Sabbath, May 7, 2016

“Jonathan, by birth heir to the throne, yet knowing himself set aside by the divine decree; to his rival the most tender and faithful of friends, shielding David’s life at the peril of his own; steadfast at his father’s side through the dark days of his declining power, and at his side falling at the last–the name of Jonathan is treasured in heaven, and it stands on earth a witness to the existence and the power of unselfish love.”
–Education, p. 157.

David and Jonathan’s friendship

1. After David’s victory over Goliath and his conversation with King Saul, what relationship was formed between Prince Jonathan and David? How far did their friendship extend?

1 Samuel 18:1, 3 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…. 3Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.

“After the slaying of Goliath, Saul kept David with him, and would not permit him to return to his father’s house. And it came to pass that ‘the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’ Jonathan and David made a covenant to be united as brethren, and the king’s son ‘stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.’ David was entrusted with important responsibilities, yet he preserved his modesty, and won the affection of the people as well as the royal household.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 649.

2. As King Saul changed completely and became so jealous and suspicious of David that he tried many times to kill him, what was Jonathan’s opinion of David?

1 Samuel 19:1, 2, first part And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. 2But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David:…

“Saul, however, did not long remain friendly to David…. The demon of jealousy entered the heart of the king. He was angry because David was exalted above himself in the song of the women of Israel. In place of subduing these envious feelings, he displayed the weakness of his character, and exclaimed. ‘They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?’

“One great defect in the character of Saul was his love of approbation. This trait had had a controlling influence over his actions and thoughts; everything was marked by his desire for praise and self-exaltation. His standard of right and wrong was the low standard of popular applause. No man is safe who lives that he may please men, and does not seek first for the approbation of God. It was the ambition of Saul to be first in the estimation of men; and when this song of praise was sung, a settled conviction entered the mind of the king that David would obtain the hearts of the people and reign in his stead.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 650.

Informing and protecting a friend

3. What confidential information did Jonathan provide to protect the life of his friend? Knowing the risk of mortal danger, would we protect our brethren like this? How can one see God’s providence in such complex circumstances?

1 Samuel 19:2 But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself.

“It was the providence of God that had connected David with Saul. David’s position at court would give him a knowledge of affairs, in preparation for his future greatness. It would enable him to gain the confidence of the nation. The vicissitudes and hardships which befell him, through the enmity of Saul, would lead him to feel his dependence upon God, and to put his whole trust in Him. And the friendship of Jonathan for David was also of God’s providence, to preserve the life of the future ruler of Israel. In all these things God was working out His gracious purposes, both for David and for the people of Israel.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 649.

4. In conversation with his father, how did Jonathan openly defend David, presenting an objective and positive picture? Who in heaven performs a similar work of intercession for every guilty sinner?

1 Samuel 19:4, 5 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to theeward very good: 5For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?

“Jonathan revealed the king’s intention to David and bade him conceal himself while he would plead with his father to spare the life of the deliverer of Israel. He presented before the king what David had done to preserve the honor and even the life of the nation, and what terrible guilt would rest upon the murderer of the one whom God had used to scatter their enemies. The conscience of the king was touched, and his heart was softened. ‘And Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain.’ David was brought to Saul, and he ministered in his presence, as he had done in the past.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 652.

Defense against unjust accusation

5. But as it became more and more dangerous for David every day, what earnest appeal did he make to his friend, Jonathan? What solemn pact did they make?

1 Samuel 20:1, 13-17, 23 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?… 13The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father. 14And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not: 15But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. 16So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies. 17And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul…. 23And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.

“His heart was wounded within him, and he longed to see his friend Jonathan once more. Conscious of his innocence, he sought the king’s son and made a most touching appeal. ‘What have I done?’ he asked, ‘what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?’ Jonathan believed that his father had changed his purpose and no longer intended to take the life of David. And Jonathan said unto him, ‘God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will show it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so.’ After the remarkable exhibition of the power of God, Jonathan could not believe that his father would still harm David, since this would be manifest rebellion against God. But David was not convinced. With intense earnestness he declared to Jonathan, ‘As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 654.

6. What further noble defense did Jonathan make in favor of David? Have we done something similar when a brother or sister was unfairly accused? In a heart-rending farewell, how did these two close friends entrust their lives and their children to God forever?

1 Samuel 20:31, 32, 41, 42 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. 32And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?… 41And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. 42And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

“Jonathan again made intercession for his friend, pleading, ‘Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?’ This appeal to the king only made him more satanic in his fury, and the spear which he had intended for David he now hurled at his own son.

“The prince was grieved and indignant, and leaving the royal presence, he was no more a guest at the feast. His soul was bowed down with sorrow as he repaired at the appointed time to the spot where David was to learn the king’s intentions toward him. Each fell upon the other’s neck, and they wept bitterly. The dark passion of the king cast its shadow upon the life of the young men, and their grief was too intense for expression. Jonathan’s last words fell upon the ear of David as they separated to pursue their different paths, ‘Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed forever.’ ” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 655.

Friendship of true brothers in Christ

7. As what did David consider Jonathan? What relationship should exist among brothers in Christ? In this sense, how can Jesus’ followers be recognized?

2 Samuel 1:26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. 

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

John 15:15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

“The friendship of Jonathan for David was … of God’s providence, to preserve the life of the future ruler of Israel.” –My Life Today, p. 210.

“You have the Pattern, Christ Jesus; walk in His footsteps, and you will be qualified to fill any and every position that you may be called upon to occupy. You will be ‘rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.’ You are not to feel that you are a bondslave, but a son of God; that you are highly favored in that you have been regarded of so great value that God has made you His by paying an infinite ransom for your freedom. Jesus says, ‘I call you not servants;… but I have called you friends.’ When you appreciate His wondrous love, love and gratitude will be in your heart as a wellspring of joy.” –Fundamentals of Christian Education, pp. 303, 304.

For further study

1 Samuel 23:16-18

2 Samuel 1:26; 9:1

Proverbs 17:17

For reflection

How would you define the relationship between David and Jonathan?

• How can their example be a blessing in your experience?

• What are the qualities of a true friend?

• What other example of an ideal relationship is reported in the Bible?

• Who wants to be our best Friend? 

The hut in flames

The only man to survive a shipwreck landed on the beach of a small, uninhabited island. He earnestly pleaded with the Lord to help him; but as he stared at the horizon day after day, it remained empty. Finally he decided to build a log cabin for protection from the rain and then placed all his possessions in it. One day, after wandering around the island in search of food, he returned to the hut and found it engulfed in flames, with smoke rising to heaven. The worst thing was that he had lost everything. He was astonished, sad, and angry. “God, how could You do this to me?” he lamented.

However, the next day he awoke to the sound of a ship approaching the island. The crew had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” the man asked them.

“We saw your smoke signal,” they replied.

It is easy to be discouraged when things go wrong, but God works in our lives despite the pain and suffering. David lost the esteem and love of Saul and nearly lost his life several times. But the Lord had a solution and gave him the friendship and love of Jonathan, a deep, sincere love that remains a wonderful example to this day. The next time you face a misunderstanding or conflict and your hut catches on fire, it may be a sign that the grace of God is coming to your help. –Adapted from the web page Giorno per giorno col Signore (Day by day with the Lord).