Jonathan, David’s faithful friend

1 Samuel 20:1-42. Jonathan, a true friend to David. Jonathan, David’s friend and King Saul’s son.

Jonathan and David stayed friends even though King Saul wanted to kill David so his son Jonathan could rule the kingdom.

Therefore they had to plan how David could be notified in secret whether or not King Saul was planning to kill him. And so you have the story of Jonathan shooting arrows.

Jonathan in Hebrew means: Jah has given.

Background Reading:

David and Jonathan’s Discussion

20:1 David fled from Naioth in Ramah. He came to Jonathan and said, “What have I done? What is my crime, and how have I wronged your father so that he’s determined to kill me?

2 Jonathan told him, “Far from it! You won’t die. Look, my father never does anything, great or small, without telling me; so why should my father hide this thing from me? It’s not like that!”

3 David again took an oath: “Your father certainly knows that I’ve found favor with you, and so he told himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this so he won’t be upset.’ But as certainly as the LORD is alive and living, and as certainly as I’m alive and living, too, there is only a step between me and death.”

4 Jonathan told David, “Whatever you say, I’ll do.”

5 David told Jonathan, “Look, the New Moon is tomorrow, and I’m expected to sit down with the king to eat. Let me go so I can hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father actually notices that I’m not there, then you are to say, ‘David urgently requested that I allow him to run to his hometown of Bethlehem because the yearly sacrifice for the entire family was taking place there.’ 7 If he says, ‘Good,’ then your servant will be safe. But if he actually gets angry, you will know that his intentions are evil. 8 Now, show gracious kindness to your servant because you have entered into a sacred covenant with your servant. If there is iniquity in me, then kill me yourself—why should you bring me to your father?”

9 “Nonsense!” Jonathan replied. “If I actually knew that my father intended evil against you, wouldn’t I tell you about it?”

10 Then David told Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

David and Jonathan Make a Covenant

11 Then Jonathan told David, “Come, let’s go into the field.” So the two of them went into the field. 12 Jonathan told David, “The LORD God of Israel is my witness that I’ll carefully question my father by tomorrow or the next day. And if the response is favorable for David, will I not then send word to you and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the LORD strike me dead if I don’t let you know and send you away so you may go safely. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 If I remain alive, don’t fail to show me the LORD’s gracious love so that I don’t die. 15 And don’t stop showing your gracious love to my family forever, not even when the LORD eliminates each of David’s enemies from the surface of the earth.” 16 Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David: “May the LORD punish any violation of this covenant by the hand of David’s enemies.” 17 Jonathan made David vow again out of his love for him, because he loved him as himself.

Jonathan’s Signal to David

18 Jonathan told him, “Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you will be missed because your seat is empty. 19 On the third day go down quickly and come to the place where you hid earlier. Remain beside the rock at Ezel. 20 I’ll shoot three arrows to the side of the rock as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I’ll send a servant, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the servant, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come out because it’s safe for you, and, as surely as the LORD lives, there is no danger. 22 But if I say this to the young man: ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 As for the matter about which you and I spoke, remember that the LORD is a witness between us forever.”

Jonathan Intercedes for David

24 David hid in the field. When the New Moon arrived, the king sat down to eat. 25 The king sat down at his place as before, in the seat by the wall. Jonathan stood while Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul didn’t say anything that day because he told himself, “Something has happened; he’s unclean; surely he’s not clean.”

27 But the next day, on the second day of the New Moon, David’s place was empty, and so Saul told his son Jonathan, “Why didn’t Jesse’s son come to the festival, either yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered Saul, “David urgently requested that I let him go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Please let me go because our family has a sacrifice in the town, and my brother has ordered me to come. Now, if it’s acceptable to you, please let me get away so I can see my brothers.’ That’s the reason he didn’t come to the king’s table.”

Saul’s Anger toward Jonathan

30 Saul flew into a rage and told Jonathan, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have chosen Jesse’s son to your shame and to the shame of your mother who bore you? 31 As long as Jesse’s son lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established! Now send someone and bring David to me. He’s a dead man!”

32 Jonathan asked his father Saul, “Why should he be killed? What did he do?” 33 Then Saul threw the spear that was beside him to strike Jonathan down. So Jonathan realized that his father was determined to kill David. 34 So on the second day of the New Moon Jonathan angrily got up from the table without eating because he was upset about David, and because his father had humiliated him.

Jonathan Warns David

35 In the morning Jonathan, accompanied by a servant, went out to the field for the appointment with David. 36 Jonathan told his servant, “Run, find the arrows that I’m shooting.” As the servant ran, Jonathan shot the arrow beyond him. 37 The servant came to the place where Jonathan had shot it, and Jonathan called out to him, “The arrow is beyond you, isn’t it?” 38 Jonathan called out to the servant, “Hurry, be quick, don’t stand around.” Jonathan’s servant picked up the arrow and brought it to his master. 39 The servant was not aware of anything. Only Jonathan and David understood what had happened.

40 Then Jonathan gave his equipment to the servant who was with him and told him, “Go, take these things to the city.” 41 The servant went. Then David came out from the south side of the rock,pp fell on his face, and bowed down three times. The men kissed each other, and both of them cried, but David even more. 42 Jonathan told David, “Go in peace since both of us swore in the name of the LORD: ‘May the LORD be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’”

Then David got up and left, while Jonathan went to the city.
1 Samuel 20:1-42
If you want to read to full story look it up in a Bible.

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