1 Samuel 20 Commentary

First Samuel 20 Commentary


There are few chapters as deeply emotional as this one. The intense hatred by Saul is only paralleled by an opposite and rarest of friendly bonds. Jonathan and David have set such a high bar of friendship that one is tempted to think of it as a model representing the cross. Only quick reaction saves Jonathan from Saul’s ever-ready spear – all on behalf of a loved David. And as Saul puts it, by shielding David, Jonathan is risking his own throne. But who cares? Not Jonathan. He wouldn’t mind taking the second slot, only if the first is taken by his best friend.

The two friends communicate their emotions in an honest and plain manner. We admire their openness. They plant their commitment to each other in their common faith. The LORD God would watch over them. Friendships that are rooted in the LORD are to be admired.

This chapter is personal. It is emotional. It is so detailed that you suspect we are hearing from one of the participants. You would imagine this material came from the mouth of King David as he narrated the story to one of the Recorders at the palace. We hear of how the two planned to keep David informed of the ‘mood’ at the palace.

David is a hunted man. Jonathan eventually meets David and communicates the bad news in person. They embrace. They weep. David weeps more; probably because the news is fresher for him than for Jonathan. They again promise to keep the bond beyond themselves. It becomes a family situation. So Benjamin would always live under the protection of Judah for generations. Judah would always mean Judah (David) and Benjamin (Jonathan).

We are reminded of another similarly very emotional chapter in the book of Genesis. Joseph had threatened to imprison Benjamin because of the ‘stolen’ cup. Judah had stepped forward and offered himself to be imprisoned so that the beloved of Jacob could return to his father in one piece.

There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Haven’t we just seen a ‘type’ of this love, albeit imperfect?

“And do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” Accordingly, David did have rest at one point. His throne was firmly established. From this position of rest, he is able to reflect on the goodness of the LORD. The love of Jonathan is that special gift from the LORD that David remembers. It is probably when he brings Mephibosheth to the palace that he finds the chance to explain this love story we have read about to a Gad, a Nathan, or one of the Recorders at the palace. They probably needed to know why an unknown and lame person sat at the king’s table.

David bows down before Jonathan three times. We shall never see David do this again to a mortal, but he must honor the friendship and the man who has given him so much. David would live many years after this moment, as Commander-In-Chief, but another Jonathan, he never had. We pray the LORD makes us a Jonathan to someone in real need. Amen

More resources visit http://www.lovingscripture.com

Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: