January 13, 2001

I am back in ch 10, v.16 with Keil a little. I missed a lot back there, particularly wait on the Lord and Saul's changed heart. I believe there is a followup additional study in ch 16 that is unfinished.

1 Samuel 20

1) In the previous chapter, God detained Saul by prostrating him before Himself all day and all night, giving David the chance to escape.

2) The previous chapter showed us an unatrual hatred, Saul against David; this chapter shows us a supernatural love, Jonathan for David.

3) In this chapter, God begins serious work, as He moves to fit David for the kingdom of Israel.

4) This chapter reminds us that God does not move without first revealing it to His prophets.

5) This chapter warns us against presumption. Though Divine Providence delivered David from death several times thus far, David now flees for his life. In other words, we must not take God's protective providence for granted; there comes a time when we must remove ourselves from the danger.


No matter what David did, right or wrong, Saul sought to kill him. But Jonathan was confident his dad would do nothing without telling him first. However, despite Jonathan's assurances, David's concern for his life could not be so easily dismissed. He had faced the javelin and escaped with his life four times, and then the king had sent to his home to have him killed. When David avoided that effort, Saul sent men to and then he came to David's place of refuge to kill him. Though Jonathan could not believe his father was intent on killing David, there was no doubt in David's mind.

Though Jonathan was confident his father would keep him informed of his intentions concerning David, David was sure that Saul not inform Jonathan of everything because Jonathan would tell David. Jonathan accepts David's concern, and he tells David that he will do for him whatever David feels needs to be done. So David shares a plan with Jonathan to see just what Saul's intentions are toward him. (How much of this plan was for David's benefit, and how much of it was to help convince Jonathan?) The next day was the first day of new month, as the Hebrew calender was a lunar calender--the new moon started a new month. (Note that those who hold that the Anglo-Saxon race is the true Israelite race, do not follow the lunar calender.)

Evidently, Saul expected his key people to eat with him at the first of the month. So David asks leave of Jonathan to miss the meal with the king. He will hide himself, and see what happens. Maybe David's family did have a feast at home, and maybe it was expected for the family to be there, so it may have been a legitimate excuse. But David was not going there; he was going into hiding, as Jonathan checked out his father. David wants Jonathan to find out how the king responds to David's absence at the meal.

If he asks Jonathan of David's whereabouts, then Jonathan is to answer that David asked permission to go to his own father's gathering at Bethlehem. Depending upon the king's response, they will both know Saul's intentions: if Saul is unconcerned, then David is fine, but if angry, then Saul is determined to kill David. David reminds Jonathan of the agreement that Jonathan initiated. Also, David tells Jonathan that if there is evil in him, for Jonathan to kill him now and get it over with.

1) God saw to it that while David had an enemy on the throne, he had a friend in the court. And Jonathan was a friend not only in David's triumph, but also in his adversity. (Pro. 17:17.)

2) Jonathan believed his father's oath (19:6), so could not believe that his father would kill David. After all, he loved his dad, and love thinketh no evil. (1 Cor. 13:5.) But now Jonathan must chose between his father and David.

3) Knowing that David would ask nothing unlawful, Jonathan told him that he would do anything he ask him to do. And of course, the Son of David's promise is conditioned on keeping His words:

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

4) The new moon was a religious occasion for the Hebrews which called for unusual religious activities—public sacrifices and feasts.

Numbers 10:10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
Numbers 28:11 And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto the LORD; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot;
Psalms 81:3 Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day.

Saul had rejected the Lord and the Lord had rejected him, but he continued in his public religious activity.

Clearly, religious activity does not mean one is in proper relationship with the Lord God.

5) Apparently, David was from a religious family, a family that kept the new moon religious activity. But notice that though the family was religious, that did not keep the boys from acting ungodly toward David when he showed up on the battle field.

The real test of religion is what takes place behind closed doors in a family.

6) Note the many "holidays" given in the Old Testament that worked at keeping the families closely united. Though the "family holiday" was an excuse to protect David, it was not questioned by Saul.

7) The ‘excuse' was a lie. David, a man after God's own heart, "did not look upon prevarication as a sin." (Keil) And thus lies were commonly used in the Old Testament to protect the innocent. The command is "Thou shalt not bear false witness," not "Thou shalt no lie." And the false witness' intent was to harm the innocent.

8) Far from asking Jonathan to do wrong in his behalf, David tells Jonathan to slay him his self if there is evil in him.

No honest man will urge his friend to do a dishonest thing for his sake. (MH)

Vv. 9-23

V. 9, rather than joining with his father in harming David, Jonathan assures David that he would tell David of any evil intentions on his father's part. Jonathan had to know about his father's attempts on David's life; evidently, he saw those attempts simply as fits of madness, with no lasting threat. As any good child should do, he was very hard to convinced of his father's evil intentions; he refused to believe bad about his dad, until he was faced with the situation himself.

Moreover, David did not ask Jonathan to fight for him, but simply to be his friend.

V. 10, if you cannot tell me of the true intents of the king, who will? Or what will you do if your father speaks bad about me?

V. 11, Jonathan takes David to a place of privacy, the field, where they can safely talk about the matter, and decide what to do. Even the palace walls had ears. (Ecc. 10:20.)

V. 12, Jonathan agrees to sound out his father's true intentions concerning David, though those intentions were already clear to David. I suppose Jonathan is the one who had to be convinced of the danger. Jonathan his assuming Saul's intentions are good toward David until proved to him otherwise.

We should think the best of folks until it is proved to us otherwise, particularly of our own family.

V. 13, Sounding out his father, if evil is found toward David, which David already was convinced of, then Jonathan would warn David, and send him away.

The LORD do so... Jonathan swears by the Lord that he will be honest and truthful about the matter, even though it is his own father he must turn against. Certainly, there was an agreement with David, but Jonathan here is telling David that he will side with right and good, even though he must side against his own father, the king.

O Lord God of Israel—Jonathan called God as his witness. God is our witness whether we call on Him or not.
The Lord do so...—Jonathan called on God to be the judge as to whether or not he kept the promise.

Vv. 13-15, Jonathan makes a choice. He tells David that if the king is intent on killing David with no reason, then Jonathan knows the kingdom is to be given to David, and not to him. Jonathan speaks as though David were already on the throne. Confidant that David will not harm him when he becomes king, Jonathan wants the same guarantee of safety for his children. It would have been a normal practice for a new king to kill all those who might have a physical claim on the throne, e.g., all of Saul's decedents. So Jonathan wants a promise from David that he will do nothing like that as the Lord removes all threats to David's throne.

Kindness of the Lord... We should be willing to pass on the kindness of the Lord that He has shown to us.

When the Lord hath cut off all the enemies of David, and Jonathan knew that his own father was one of those enemies.

Jonathan has no problem with the thought that he is not in line for the throne, and even that the Lord was going to remove his own father, showing the very unusual character of Jonathan. How many heirs to an earthly throne could be gracious as was Jonathan here? If he would have sided with his father, he could have been king. Jonathan speaks to David with the assurance that David will be king, and that he, Jonathan, would be dead. So he gets a commitment from David that he will show kindness to his family as king. I believe David broke this covenant with Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 19:26ff.

Notice that Jonathan looked upon David as the king of Israel, though David was now fearing for his life; "so did the penitent thief upon Christ (Luke xxiii. 42)." (Trapp.) Though not visible today, we must look upon Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

V. 16, the covenant now expands beyond just the immediate, David, and to the house of David. David is making an agreement that his posterity must honour.

The Lord require... The Lord was the witness, and evidently, Jonathan called on the Lord to use David's enemies to chastize either David or himself if either broke the covenant.

True friends desire that their children follow in that friendship. (MH)

V. 17, Jonathan made David swear again that he would protect his family. Because he loved him... Because the friendship between the two was so strong, Jonathan wanted it to extend down through the following generations.

Question: How much of an oath from our "fathers" must be followed?
Answer: I would say that if the oath was a godly oath, as given here, then the following generations are responsible. I just did an article about the 2000 election and the Mayflower Compact. The oath made hundreds of years ago is still in effect; and the enemies of the cross are the ones enforcing the oath. (See Win2000, Two Americas.)

On the other hand, the people of Judah were determined to fulfill the oath their fathers made to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and God pronounced a strong curse against them, and destroyed them from off the face of the earth, leaving only a small remnant.

Vv. 18-23, the plans are made as to how Jonathan will discover the king's true intentions toward David, and how he will get the message to David without anyone knowing.

V. 22, the Lord hath sent thee away from your exalted place at the king's side, from your place with family and friends, from your place of security, from the nation you love, from your place of service for the Lord, from his inheritance (26:19) and from our own wife. The king is trying to kill David, but both Jonathan and David recognize that the Lord is controlling the whole situation.

Note that from all outward appearances, Saul's rejection of the Lord and resulting madness is the cause of David's problems, but that is not what Jonathan says. The Lord is working all of these things to form in David what is needed, so he will be a faithful king over God's people.

Vv. 24-34, the plan is made, now they work the plan. David hides himself in the field, and Jonathan went to the king's meal. (As mentioned, Saul, though with murder in his heart, was careful to keep up his religious observances.)

V. 25, mention is made of a changed seating arrangement. Jonathan, evidently, normally sat by the king's side, then Abner, the general of the army; and then David. But Jonathan changed seats with Abner, leaving an empty seat where David sat. It appears Jonathan was expecting something to happen, so he kept out of the king's reach.

Note that no matter what the honour might be, there are times when our place should be empty. How many folks place themselves in danger of life and limb because they want to be in a place of honour?

V. 26, David's seat is empty the first day, but the king makes no comment, thinking David was defiled in some way, e.g., touched a dead body. Or better yet, Saul was hoping something bad had befallen David.

First, of all people to consider someone defiled—Saul was the most defiled person at the table with murder in his heart: hypocrites.

Second, shame on us when we rejoice at the though that some evil has befallen our enemy.

Third, he is not clean. Note that uncleanness will prevent our eating at the King's table. We should clean ourselves daily, or as needed. Uncleanness is to keep us from the Lord's table.

Saul knew David would be at this religious feast unless prevented by something important. Do we have that kind of reputation, that we will be in the house of the Lord or in His service unless prevented by something important? Moreover, as heads of families, we should see that all under our authority are where they should be when they should be.

V. 27, however, when David's seat was empty the second day, the king asks Jonathan why the son of Jesse is not there. David was the king's son also. By refusing to use his name, he speaks contemptuously of David.

Note the anti-Christian crowd works hard at replacing names with numbers. I must admit that numbers are probably easier to use in the computer system, but they certainly depersonalize a person.

Vv. 28, 29, Jonathan tells the prearrange story to the king, that David ask leave of him to go home for a family sacrifice. Jonathan evidently adds a little to the story, that David's brother commanded him to be there.

There is no reason to doubt that David did go to his father's house in Bethlehem for a feast, but I doubt his brother commanded he be there, though his brother might have sent an invitation to him. Although it is not above probability that the brother did indeed command David's presence.

V. 30, Saul's anger was kindled, and he lets loose a bitter, railing tirade against Jonathan, calling him everything he can think of that is mean and low down. He accused Jonathan's mother of being a harlot, and thus him an illegitimate bastard. Saul certainly had no cause to speak so reproachfully against his son and against his wife, Jonathan's mother.

Or, you are as contrary to me as is your mother. (Geneva)

Out of control anger says and does many evil things. "Be sure brain is engaged before putting mouth in gear."

Chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion. That is, shows his confusion by choosing David over the throne. Or shows that he is not the king's son, but a bastard, because he is not willing to do whatever it takes to secure the rightful throne for himself.

But Jonathan shows his character by choosing to follow after that which is good and right over that which would bring him great wealth and power, king. With the victory over the Philistine, Jonathan saw that God's hand was on David. His agreements with David were based upon his faith that God was going to exalt David, and his submission to the will of God. However, the wicked will do all they can to tell us that the choice is between people rather than between right and wrong. They despise a firm line that makes decisions for us.

Many times the spiritual ties with others is far stronger than the blood ties of a family, especially if the family is not in the promise, saved.

Note that as parents, we do not have the right to expect our children to share our passions and to have our personal likes and dislikes, though we should expect them to like the things of the Lord.

Saul probably knew of David's anointing, yet he still tried to stop the hand of God.

V. 31, Saul talks like he is protecting Jonathan's interests in the throne, but he is not—is concern is strictly for himself. He shall surely die, but he won't. God is in control of the situation.

There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand. (Proverbs 19:2.)

Verse 31. Thus he grossly mistakes the cause of Jonathan's loss of the kingdom, which was not David's art, but Saul's sin; and vainly endeavours to prevent God's irrevocable sentence. (Poole.)

Matthew Poole rightly observes that the problem was not David's art of subverting Jonathan or of quietly taking over the kingdom from Saul. The problem was Saul's sin that he would not confess and make right.

How like our fallen nature to defend it with all our might by blaming others for our problems. Saul placed the blame everywhere, his son and David, except where it belonged—his own rebellion against God.

We might note here the evil that is done by many parents in order to establish their children into something they desire for them.

Vv. 32, 33, Jonathan defends David, which only makes his father more angry. His madness led to his attempt to kill his own son.

Note the many instances of child abuse today.

V. 34, Jonathan's own father had publically humiliated him by treating him as a rebel and a traitor. (Trapp.) So Jonathan left the table.

Jonathan was in a fierce anger because of his father's false accusations against the innocent, David. He was also in a fierce anger because of his father's unjust accusations against him, and no doubt about his mother also.

1) Though angry, he did not strike back nor speak angrily back to his father. His spirit was under control, so he just got up and left the table. No wonder he and David got along so well; both had good spirits.

2) Done him shame by taking this private matter public. Disagreements will arise, even among family members, but they should be kept private. Though we should have our spirit under control, there will be angry words. We should at least have enough character to keep them private, and not drag others into our problems with others.
Vv. 35-42.

No doubt it was with great sadness he went to David according to their previous agreement. He acts as though he is going out to "relax," and just do some shooting. (I like to just shoot, an activity the gun control group finds objectionable.)

36, He shot an arrow beyond him:

God also shoots sometimes sharp arrows at his children, yet not to wound them, but to warn them that the will of Saul—the devil—is their utter destruction. (Trapp.)

Vv. 37-39, the lad did not know what was going on as Jonathan spoke to David through him, telling him what he should do.

There is no need to let others know our business, unless it is absolutely necessary.

V. 40, Jonathan sends the lad home, so he can talk with David freely.

Vv. 41, 42, we can only imagine what this final meeting was like. David fell on his face, with reverence due to a prince. Note that it is Jonathan who reminds David of the covenant, showing again his confidence that God was with David and had departed from his own father.

And they part in great heaviness, with a covenant binding them together.

Finally, note that the covenant made with the Son of David is good though we do not see Him.

Though David was blameless, Saul's wrath was against David, and he was intent on killing him. Saul's son, Jonathan, because he love David and had made a covenant with him, did what he needed to do to protect David.
Note one that the FATHER'S wrath is against us because of sin. However, because of the everlasting covenant, the Son did what He needed to do to protect us from the Father's wrath. He died for us.
Note two that though we are not present with the Son at this time, He is still with us because the everlasting covenant. (Jer. 32:40, Heb. 13:20.)

February 13, 2001