In chapter 20 we see that King Saul has broken his own vow he made in chapter 19 that he will not kill David. His enmity towards David has grown so strong that when Jonathan spoke for David, he turned his anger towards his own son, insulted him and his own wife horribly.
Amidst this conflict between his own father and his best friend, Jonathan chose to side his best friend, even to his own loss. In fact, both Jonathan and Saul knew very well that David would be established and took over his kingdom.
“For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom.” (1 Sam 20: 31)
And Jonathan, knowing that the LORD has left his father and be with David, said this to David, “And the LORD be with you as He has been with my father.” (1 Sam 20: 13)
Jonathan saw what was going on. He saw that his father was becoming more and more irrational and power-crazy. He knew that God would avenge for David and his father would soon lose his kingdom, perhaps putting his family’s lives in danger as well. Therefore, he said this to David:
“And you shall not only show me the kindness of the LORD while I still live, that I may not die, but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever, no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” (1 Sam 20: 14, 15)
Note that Jonathan is not incapable to succeed his father. This young man had many honorable traits that made him so different from his father, in fact, much better than the father.
He could have made a great king too. Once he went on a crazy mission with ONLY his armor bearer to the camp of the Philistines and killed 20 of them. God worked with him and caused great trembling and confusion among the Philistines, which led to the Israel’s victory after that.
He did this with a simple yet marvelous faith. “It may be that the LORD will act for us; for nothing can hinder the LORD from saving by many or by few.” (1 Sam 14: 6)
When this mighty warrior met with the young shepherd, David, who defeated a horrible Philistine giant in the name of the LORD, his soul was knit to David’s, and loved him as his own soul. He gave him his best; his robes, his armor, his sword (note that only he and his father had a sword), his bow and his belt.
David’s gain is Jonathan’s loss; he would get what Jonathan never would, though Jonathan had done nothing wrong to deserve this. Yet, Jonathan remained as faithful to David as ever, even to a point of almost losing his life by the spear of his own father.
It is truly not easy to find a soul-mate who is as crazy (fearless) as you, who shares the same interest as you, who would fight with you for the kingdom, more so a friend who selflessly defends you, and comforts you by reminding you of God’s abidance and protection.
“Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and mine, forever.” (1 Sam 20: 42)
That reminded me of Paul and Titus. “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (2 Cor 7: 5,6)
Even a great warrior could tremble in fear. Even a mighty hero needs comfort. David must have received great comfort from Jonathan.
Such a beautiful and precious friendship, such an honorable and selfless friend. Yet, sadly when they clinged onto each other and wept, little did they know that this would be their last meeting. Some time later, Jonathan died tragically in the battle together with his father.
David would never meet another friend like Jonathan again, and so would Jonathan. Jonathan would be missed so much by David. Even David’s fellow warrior or closest people could betray him; e.g. When Joab killed Abner, he said, “I am weak today, though anointed king; and these men, the sons of Zeruiah, are too harsh for me..” (2 Sam 3: 39).
The friendship between Jonathan and David makes me ponder, am I Jonathan? or am I unconsciously, Saul?