THE PARTING OF THE WAYS?
Loving Father, I thank you today for my new life in Christ, and for the love that gave it.
Read 1 SAMUEL 20:24-42
24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan,[a] and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.” 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”
28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”
30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”
32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.
34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.
35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”
41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.
42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.[b]
- 1 Samuel 20:25 Septuagint; Hebrew wall. Jonathan arose
- 1 Samuel 20:42 In Hebrew texts this sentence (20:42b) is numbered 21:1.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThank God for the ways in which he has protected you from harm, and the people he has used. Pray for his continued protection.
One day’s absence from the feast was excusable – the laws about uncleanness were firm. But on the second day, Saul realized that the issue wasn’t ceremonial defilement – that could have been dealt with in a day. Jonathan’s story about David having to go to Bethlehem just didn’t wash with his father. So his hostility to David continued to grow. Three times he refused to use his name, calling him ‘the son of Jesse’ (vs 27,30,31). When his anger boiled over again (v 30) and he hurled his spear at Jonathan, there was no longer any question about his intention toward David (v 33). Saul’s reign was moving inexorably, if slowly, toward its end.
The following morning, Jonathan triggered the coded message to David. Having fired an arrow beyond the target stone, he told his servant boy to run further and collect it (vs 22,37). But his words were meant for David. Hidden to one side, David heard Jonathan’s voice. He understood exactly. Saul definitely did want to kill him. It was time to escape.
Even now David recognized Jonathan’s superiority (v 41). But at the same time, Jonathan reaffirmed his commitment to their covenant (v 42). Their parting was intensely emotional (v 41). They would meet again only once more (23:16-18).
Jonathan’s loyalty to David is remarkable. How can his example inspire us in our loyalty to David’s greater descendant, Jesus?
Yes Lord, I need your strength to follow you always. Infuse me with that strength and enable me to always put you first.
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