Jonathan helps David

Chapter 20

Jonathan helps David

v1 Then David ran away from Naioth at Ramah. He went to Jonathan and asked him, ‘What have I done? What is my crime? What have I done wrong to your father? Why is he trying to kill me?’

v2 Jonathan replied, ‘No. You will not die. My father tells me everything that he does, even the little things. So he would not hide this from me. This can not be true’.

v3 But David answered, ‘Your father knows that you like me. He decided not to tell you. He knew that you would be very unhappy. I promise that I have told you the truth. I think that I will soon be dead’.

v4 Jonathan said to David, ‘I will do anything that you want me to’.

v5 David said, ‘Tomorrow we have a special meal because of the new moon. I ought to go and eat this meal with the king. Instead, I will go and hide in the fields. I will stay there until the third evening. v6Your father might notice that I am not at the meal. If he does, you say, “David asked me to let him go to his home in Bethlehem. His whole family offer a *sacrifice at this time every year”. v7 If your father says, “That is good”, then I know that I am safe. But he may become angry. Then you will know that he wants to hurt me. v8 Jonathan, please be loyal and kind to me, your servant. God knows about the agreement that you made with me. If I am guilty of *sin, you can kill me yourself. Do not let your father kill me’.

v9 Jonathan said, ‘No, this will not happen. I will find out if my father wants to kill you. If he does, I will warn you’.

v10 David said, ‘If your father gets angry tomorrow, who will tell me?’

v11 Jonathan said, ‘Let us go out into the fields’. So they went there together.

v12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I make this promise to you and to the *Lord, the God of *Israel. Tomorrow or the next day I will find out how my father feels. If he likes you, I will send someone to tell you.v13 But my father may intend to hurt you. I promise that I will let you know this. Then I will send you away so that you are safe. May the *Lord be with you as he has been with my father. v14 The *Lord is kind to me. Please be kind to me too while I am alive. Do not let me die. v15 The *Lord will destroy all your enemies in the world. But please continue to be kind to all my family’.

v16 So Jonathan made an agreement with David. He said, ‘May the *Lord make David’s enemies responsible for what they have done’. v17 Again Jonathan asked David to promise that he loved him. Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.

In 19:1-7, Saul wanted to kill David. Jonathan spoke to Saul and Saul changed his decision. David went back to serve Saul again. So, when David came to Jonathan this time, Jonathan did not believe David. Jonathan trusted Saul, his father. Jonathan was sure that David would be safe with Saul. In the past, Saul had told Jonathan everything. But Saul knew that Jonathan and David were good friends. This time Saul did not tell Jonathan that he wanted to kill David. David and Jonathan made a plan.

Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15 tell us about the special *offerings at the time of the new moon. Saul had a special meal for three nights at this time. Saul expected all his servants to go to the meals. The important people sat in special places at the table. People would notice if David’s seat was empty. David pretended that he had gone back to his family home in Bethlehem. (People used to *sacrifice at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:3) until the *Philistines destroyed the town.) If Saul liked David, Saul would be happy about that. If he did not like David, Saul would be angry.

Jonathan, as son of the king, had power to hurt David. But Jonathan had made a promise with David (18:3-4). David reminded Jonathan about this promise. And he asked Jonathan to be loyal and kind. David deserved to die if he had not been loyal to Saul. David wanted Jonathan, rather than Saul, to kill him. But David had been loyal to Saul. Saul wanted to kill David only because he was jealous of David.

‘May the *Lord be with you as he has been with my father’ (verse 13). Jonathan knew that David would be the next king (see the notes on 18:3-4). Jonathan saw that the *Lord had given Saul success in the past. Jonathan wanted the *Lord to give David success too. In the future, David would become king. People would think that Saul’s family was David’s enemy. If a new king came from a different family, he usually killed the old king’s family. In verse 14 Jonathan asked David to be kind to him when David became king. When Jonathan referred to David’s ‘enemies’ (verses 14, 15), he knew that this would include his own father.

In verses 8, 14 and 15, the word ‘kind’ is a very strong word. It means to promise to give loyal love. It refers to the way that God promises to show his loyal love to us. David and Jonathan’s love for each other was like God’s love.

v18 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow we will have the special meal because of the new moon. No one will be sitting in your chair. People will see that you are not there. v19 Go back to the place where you hid at the beginning of this trouble. Go there the day after tomorrow. Go in the evening. Wait by the rock of Ezel. v20 I will shoot three arrows by the side of it. I will pretend that I am shooting at a certain mark. v21 Then I will send a boy to find the arrows. If you are not in danger I will say to him, “The arrows are near to you. Bring them here”. This means that you are safe. You can come out from the place where you have been hiding. v22 But I may say to the boy, “Look, the arrows are beyond you”. This means that you must go. The *Lord has sent you away. v23 Always remember the agreement that we made. The *Lord will make sure that we keep this promise’.

v24 So David hid in the field. The time came for the special meal because of the new moon. The king sat down to eat the meal. v25 He sat by the wall in his usual place. Jonathan sat opposite him. Abner sat next to Saul. David’s seat was empty. v26 Saul did not say anything about it that day. Saul thought, ‘I expect something has happened to David. Perhaps he is not clean’. v27 The next day was the second day of the month. David’s seat was still empty at the meal. So Saul said to Jonathan, ‘Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal? He did not come yesterday or today’.

v28 Jonathan answered, ‘David asked me to let him go to Bethlehem. v29 He said, “Let me go. My family is having a *sacrifice in the town. My brother told me that I must be there. If you are my friend let me go and visit my relatives”. That is why David has not come to eat with the king’.

v30 Saul became very angry with Jonathan. Saul said, ‘You are wicked and you do not obey. I know that you are David’s friend. You have brought shame to yourself and to your mother. v31 You will never be king while David is alive. You will never rule the people. Go and get David now. He must die’.

v32 Jonathan said, ‘Why must David die? What has he done wrong?’ v33 But Saul threw a *spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. So, Jonathan knew that his father really wanted to kill David. v34Jonathan was very angry. He got up from the table. He did not eat anything on that second day of the month. He was very unhappy because Saul had not given David honour.

Jonathan had to find a secret way to give David the news. Jonathan probably often practised with his bow and arrows. He wanted to become more accurate when he fought battles. Jonathan took a boy who went to find all the arrows. But he did not want the boy to know about David. The boy would not suspect that Jonathan’s message was for someone else. David had to wait near a big rock. The name ‘Ezel’ means ‘to go away’. Jonathan expected that David would be safe. If he was not safe, Jonathan knew that David had to leave. The *Lord, not Jonathan, would send him away. Also, the *Lord would help David to keep his promise to Jonathan. 2 Samuel 9 and 21:7 describe when this happened.

Verse 25 says that Saul ‘sat by the wall’. The king always sat in the most important place. Abner was the son of Saul’s uncle and the leader of Saul’s army (1 Samuel 14:50 and 17:55). He was very important so he sat next to the king. David should have gone to this special meal instead of going to visit his family. The *Israelites had to be ‘clean’ when they *sacrificed or had a special meal (Leviticus 7:20-21). This means more than clean clothes or a clean body. Leviticus chapters 11-15 describe what made a person not clean.

In verse 27, Saul called David ‘the son of Jesse’. He probably said this to insult David.

In verses 30-33 Saul was very angry with Jonathan. The *Hebrew words that Saul used were insulting and not polite. Saul was angry because Jonathan was David’s friend. And Saul knew that David would be king instead of Jonathan. In chapter 15 God refused Saul as king because Saul did not obey him. Therefore, Jonathan would not become king after Saul. But Saul wanted Jonathan to be the next king. So Saul was trying to kill David. Then Saul became so angry with Jonathan that he tried to kill him too. Jonathan was angry about this. Jonathan realised that David was not safe near Saul. And Jonathan was sad about how his father had dealt with David.

v35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. Jonathan took a young boy with him. v36 He said to the boy, ‘Run and find the arrows that I shoot’. As the boy ran, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. v37 The boy reached the place where the arrow landed. Jonathan shouted to him, ‘The arrow is beyond you’. v38 Then he shouted, ‘Hurry up. Go quickly. Do not stop’. The boy picked up the arrow and brought it back to Jonathan. v39 (The boy did not know what this meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.) v40 Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrow back to the boy and said, ‘Go and take them back to town’.

v41 So the boy left. David came out from the south side of the rock. He kneeled in front of Jonathan and put his face down on the ground. He did this three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other and cried together. But David cried the most.

v42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go and God will give you peace. We promised the *Lord that we would always be friends. The *Lord will make sure that my family and your family will always keep this promise’. Then David left. Jonathan went back to the town.

Jonathan knew that he had to get the news to David quickly. Jonathan shouted, ‘Hurry up. Go quickly. Do not stop’. This message was for David, not the boy. Saul would certainly kill David if he did not leave that place. Jonathan wanted to see David so he sent the boy away. First, David greeted Jonathan as the king’s son. David gave respect and honour to him. Verse 41 describes how David did that. Then David and Jonathan greeted each other as friends. They loved each other. They were very sad that they had to separate. David was most sad. He had to run away to save his life. In verse 42 ‘peace’ includes safety (see verses 7, 14 and 21). Jonathan knew that God would keep David safe. They talked again about the promise that they had each made to the *Lord. The promise was for them, and for their families. David and Jonathan trusted God with this promise whatever might happen in the future. David and Jonathan met only once more before Jonathan died (23:16-18).