Men of the Bible Series – Jonathan (I Samuel 18:1-4)
I Samuel 18:1-4, “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. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan 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.”
Jonathan was a faithful, mighty warrior, and one of the bravest men who had ever lived. Jonathan’s victorious strategy at the battle of Michmash was successfully used in World War I at the same exact location 3,000 years later, which has been considered the most successful military tactic ever used in battle. One-night, Major Vivian Gilbert of the British army was contemplating the situation against the Ottoman forces. He remembered a town by the name of Michmash written somewhere in the Bible. He found the verses and discovered that there was supposedly a secret path around the town. Incredibly, he managed to ﬁnd that secret path, and with the British forces using this path to outmaneuver the Ottomans, the British took the town under the command of General Edmund Allenby and captured the city of Jerusalem on December 9th, 1917.
Jonathan and David were great friends, likened to brothers. Three times the Bible states Jonathan loved David as his own soul (I Samuel 18: 1, 3; II Samuel 1:26). The Scriptures suggests they could not have been closer had they been actual brothers. As a result, a close bond of friendship grew into a oneness of spirit and brotherly love, in spite of the fact that David had been chosen by God to take Jonathan’s place as the next king of Israel. Although Jonathan was Saul’s son, he knew that David was to be the next king. It was David who killed Goliath and defended the people; this was enough to earn Jonathan’s respect and trust. Yet, rather than being resentful, Jonathan poured his heart into his friend, making his life better. Decide to be the kind of friend who makes the lives of others better rather than seeking the best for yourself.
Jonathan made an unusual covenant with David (I Samuel 18:3-4). The two young men would have pledged their friendship and loyalty to one another. They would always look after the needs and welfare of one another. Jonathan acknowledged that David was to be the future king, for he gave David his own royal clothing and weapons. The royal robe and weapons were to be used only by the future heir to the throne. In effect, Jonathan was transferring the right to the throne over to David.
Jonathan came to David and put all that he had at his feet (I Samuel 18:4). He began with his robe. Jonathan's robe suggests his position, for it was the robe of a king's son, the robe of a crown prince of Israel. Jonathan also gave his garments to David. His garments speak of his possessions, the things which most personally belonged to him. Jonathan gave David his sword. His sword speaks of his protection, his right of self-defense. Jonathan put his bow at David's feet. Jonathan's bow suggests his prowess; it represented a skill he had. Finally, Jonathan put his girdle at David's feet. His girdle suggests his plans.
This was not something King Saul received well. Saul wanted David out of the picture, regardless of what God had already decided. This resulted in David becoming a hunted man. He was the number one wanted man on Saul’s hitlist. Taking his father’s side would have been easy to do, but Jonathan was “born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17). While David was running for his life, Jonathan came to him to strengthen his hand in God (I Samuel 23:16). Proverbs 10:29, “The way of the LORD is strength to the upright”. Friends that strengthen you are your true friends, and they will always point you to the LORD.
David and Jonathan are the epitome of what true friendship should be. They both wanted to please and obey the LORD. No family ties, loyalties, or blood kinship could surpass the loyalty of these true friends. The souls of Jonathan and David were knit to the death. And no fault, failure, flaw, or foulness of David could waiver Jonathan's loyalty to him or make him love him less. Psalm 119:63 instructs as to how we should choose our friendships. If a friend is anything, it is someone who knows everything about you and loves you nonetheless. Friends that love you will strengthen you, not belittle you. Friendships that have been cemented in Christian covenant have a firm foundation.
Jonathan, along with his two brothers and father, was killed in a battle with the Philistines (I Samuel 31:2-6). Upon hearing of this, a brokenhearted David heard it and was brokenhearted. He lamented the death of his dear friend, especially referring to his courage, saying he was swifter than an eagle and stronger than a lion (II Samuel 1:17-26). David could not hide his love for Jonathan and God cannot hide His love for you. He loved you so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die on a cross that He might spend eternity with you.
Points to Ponder:
PRAYER: Father in Heaven, help me to be as true and loyal as Jonathan was to David. In Jesus name, Amen!
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.