And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. — 1 Samuel 20:17
A plaque on my living room wall says, “Friendship is a priceless gift that can’t be bought or sold. Its value is far greater than mountains made of gold. If you should ask God for a gift, be thankful if He sends, not diamonds, pearls, or riches, but the love and trust of friends.” Each time I read that, I am reminded of the many friends that God has blessed me with. I can remember my next-door neighbor whose granddaughter was a good friend to me during the younger years of my life. When my family moved, I was delighted to meet a family who not only had two boys, but also had one girl who was nine years of age — I was ten years old at the time. Marie and I were best friends for the next five years. When I was fifteen years old, my family moved once again, and this time it was to the United States. A few weeks after taking our residence here, I went to high school. There, Sue, a very friendly junior who took an interest in students of different cultures, was kind enough to show me around and help me with my English. She was a Godsend. Later, at church, there were many others who extended their friendship to me. In fact, a friend that I met long ago gave me the plaque that I quoted. Looking back, it seems that God was always faithful to bring the right person to be my friend when I most needed friendship.
David also had a friend when he really needed one. He had some unusual circumstances take place in his life. He went from taking care of sheep to being anointed king over Israel. Imagine such a change! A lot of events were to take place in David’s life before he sat upon the throne, and God was faithful to bring Jonathan along at that time to help him through the difficult days ahead.
Jonathan, King Saul’s son, loved David. The Bible says, “Jonathan loved him as he loved his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). That is quite a friend! God knew that David needed just that type of a friend. God is so good. I remember a time when a friend gave me his car to drive to work, and he took the bus! I could not imagine that, but he insisted, so I did! The worst part about that kind gesture is that I wrecked his car twice, and he was still kind to me and had it fixed and gave it back to me! I was flabbergasted. I used to ask myself, how could someone be so good to me? Well, I did not let that one pass me by — I married him. He is still kind to me to this day, after seventeen years of marriage.
Though David and Jonathan’s relationship was unusual, given the circumstances, it withstood great challenges. The element that made it possible was that they both loved God. Jonathan, though loyal to his father, recognized that God’s plan included David being the next king. From a human standpoint, that must have been difficult to deal with, however, Jonathan loved God and he submitted to His plan. This made it possible for him to extend his friendship to David at a time when David needed it most.
Today, the same elements can be present in our friendships. When God is at the center of our lives, we can extend ourselves to others in acts of kindness. As Christians, we have experienced God extending His love to us each day. That makes us the most qualified individuals to spread kindness to others. We must look for ways to do just that each day.
David found himself in Ramah, fleeing Saul’s attempts to kill him. Naioth was not a city, but the dwelling place of a particular school of prophets. Likely, it was a temporary village set up adjacent to Ramah, where Samuel lived. The Bible tells us that David “dwelt” there; how long he remained with Samuel is unknown. While David was there, Saul sent three sets of messengers to Ramah to capture David. Finally, Saul went himself. When he arrived in Naioth, Saul was overcome by the Spirit of God, as his messengers had been. He removed his outer garments — his armor and royal robes — and lay all that day and night, singing and praising God. In this manner, God showed His power over the hearts of men — even the king — and provided David with time to make his escape.
Ramah was about four miles from Gibeah where David returned to talk to Jonathan, while Saul was looking for him in Ramah. Jonathan was David’s loyal friend and David wanted to share with him the fact that he thought Saul was out to kill him.
Each new moon marked the beginning of a new month, when the Law required the people to offer burnt sacrifices unto the Lord. It was a religious holiday, and the Jews were very careful to observe it. Though God had rejected Saul, he continued to bring sacrifices to God in a public way. It was also customary for him to eat publicly on this occasion along with his family and chief officers. David knew this and requested of Jonathan to be excused from this assembly. He knew that if Saul indeed had it in his heart to kill him, his displeasure would show and it would be revealed to Jonathan that indeed Saul was in definite pursuit of him.
After devising the plan to test Saul, David and Jonathan went into a field where they laid out their plan before God. Verses 8 and 16 describe their covenant. In verse 8, it is called a “covenant of the Lord,” and verse 16 speaks of a covenant Jonathan was making with the house of David to protect his seed. A covenant was a binding contract of two or more persons who have agreed to its terms. It is usually created by deed in writing, sealed, and executed. In this case, it was a verbal agreement between two friends whose utmost desire was to do God’s will and to be true to their friendship. Their covenant was witnessed by God, whose presence they implored, and who would be the final executor of its terms. In their covenant, they agreed to be honest in their communication with each other regarding what would transpire in David’s absence.
At the feast, when Saul angrily made it known that Jonathan was a traitor for letting David leave, Jonathan knew that David’s life was in danger. According to their agreed upon signal, Jonathan shot the three arrows beyond the place where David was. David knew that this meant to leave and the two friends parted after much grief and tears — Jonathan back to his father and family and David away from it.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reign of Saul
B. The decline of King Saul and the rise of David
2. David in exile from Saul
a. His flight to Samuel at Ramah (19:18-24)
b. The plot to ascertain Saul’s motives (20:1-42)
(1) The plot formulated (20:1-23)
(2) The intentions of Saul revealed (20:24-34)
(3) The separation of David and Saul (20:35-42)
A friend you can trust is of great value in time of need. God has extended His love to us, so we must show kindness to others. By being true and loyal to God, you will be the friend that God intends for you to be to someone in need.