1 Samuel 20:1-23 Our Loyalty Towards God is All That Matters
1 Samuel 20:1-23
David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. “What have I done?” he exclaimed. “What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?” 2 “That’s not true!” Jonathan protested. “You’re not going to die. He always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. I know my father wouldn’t hide something like this from me. It just isn’t so! 3 Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan- why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD and by your own soul!” 4 “Tell me what I can do to help you,” Jonathan exclaimed.
5 David replied, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I’ve always eaten with the king on this occasion, but tomorrow I’ll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day. 6 If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice. 7 If he says, ‘Fine!’ you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, you will know he is determined to kill me. 8 Show me this loyalty as my sworn friend- for we made a solemn pact before the LORD- or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don’t betray me to him!”
9 “Never!” Jonathan exclaimed. “You know that if I had the slightest notion my father was planning to kill you, I would tell you at once.” 10 Then David asked, “How will I know whether or not your father is angry?” 11 “Come out to the field with me,” Jonathan replied. And they went out there together. 12 Then Jonathan told David, “I promise by the LORD, the God of Israel, that by this time tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, I will talk to my father and let you know at once how he feels about you. If he speaks favorably about you, I will let you know. 13 But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the LORD strike me and even kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father.
David, in trying to come to grips with the turn of events escapes to Samuel at Ramah and later turns to his best friend Jonathan. In order to get to the bottom of Saul’s intentions, David entrusts his life into Jonathan’s hands as he seeks to confront Saul once more. Jonathan is caught in the dilemma of friendship towards his good friend against the best interest of his father. Jonathan must now come to a place where all that matters is his loyalty towards God.
What have I done? – David, now a fugitive of the king touches base with Jonathan while trying to come to grips with the dramatic turn of events: What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me? David did not see it coming thinking that Jonathan’s earlier arbitration would have cleared the air. Even Jonathan himself finds it hard to accept that his father would renew his attack on David without first informing him as before: You’re not going to die. He always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. Hence, David had to resort to an oath in order to substantiate the credibility of his story: But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD.
Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival – Jonathan, upon seeing the seriousness of the situation asks David, “Tell me what I can do to help you”. In order to decipher if Saul is determined on killing David or if he was temporary under the influence of the evil spirit, they decide to test Saul’s response to David’s absence at the new moon festival celebration. If Saul is nonchalant over David’s excuse of absence: If he says, ‘Fine!’ you will know all is well. But if Saul loses his temper, then it is clear that Saul is set on killing David. Jonathan makes a solemn pack with David not to betray him should Saul turn ugly: Show me this loyalty as my sworn friend- for we made a solemn pact before the LORD… But please don’t betray me to him! Jonathan, now convinced of the urgency of ascertaining Saul’s intentions concerning David, solemnly undertakes to pass on the information: But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the LORD strike me and even kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live.
May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father – Jonathan recognizes that David is God’s choice to be the next king, something that Saul himself will be forced to admit (see 1 Samuel 24:20). However, what is most significant and sublime concerning Jonathan is the way his decision embodies wisdom, truth, selflessness and loyalty towards his father. While resisting becoming his own contender to the throne, and being branded as traitor to his own family, he chooses to help David escape. Nevertheless, Jonathan remains at his father’s side knowing full well that Saul’s dynasty will eventually come to a dreadful end.
- The believer must be patient to allow critical foundations to be built so that he could advance to the next stage of growth – Believers must be patient to follow God’s plans and timing and never to run ahead of Him. Many believers having received God’s calling, got ahead of themselves and suffered many unnecessary setbacks along the way. They could not see the value of building the necessary foundations leading to the destination. David’s brief stint with Samuel at Ramah would have reignited his calling to be king of Israel. Despite having this added assurance of his eventual succession to the throne, David did not take advantage of Saul’s aggression to retaliate and increase his prominence within Israel. He asks for Jonathan’s help in seeking clarification to resolve this crisis and perhaps to return to Saul’s side.
This particular stage of David’s life is critical in assessing his foundations of character and wisdom: Is he acting in the best interest of the nation or is he selfishly ambitiously? Does David honor God in recognizing Saul’s divine appointment and authority as king? Does David seek to divide or to unite the country? These questions must be answered and proven before David can move forward on the journey of his kingly call.
- Trustworthiness is the primary virtue and growth foundation of a person – Trustworthiness is the track record of one’s ability to deliver what he has promised. God has shown Himself trustworthy in bringing rain and sunshine to all regardless of their moral condition (see Matthew 5:45). Based on the trustworthiness of God, we can plan and have confidence of the future. Trust between people and government, between husband and wife, trust among employees and even among friends is the foundation of all things; trust makes the world go round. David gained the trust of Jonathan that enables him to obtain guidance within Saul’s court, exposure to politics and credibility before the population at large. Before a man can rise up, he must first gain the trust of the people around him. The biblical word for trustworthiness is faithfulness. If a man has proven himself as trustworthy and faithful in small things, he will be given charge over greater things. Jesus says concerning faithfulness,
He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. Luke 16:10
Yet again Jesus says,
His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:23
- When you are caught between a rock and a hard place, where you will not be able to satisfy everyone, choose to satisfy God. The believer’s utmost concern is to please God in every of his decisions. Nevertheless, we could still appeal to people’s preferences within limits as long as the truth is not compromised. We may not always be loved and welcomed for our decisions, but we will always be respected for our righteousness and justice. Only by making decisions that are based on the principles of truth will we bring lasting prosperity into our community. Jonathan’s decision to save David, thus depriving himself a place at the throne and risks incurring the wrath of his father is commendable. Jonathan is truly David’s equal; a man who is also after God’s own heart.
- Are you always being bothered by the preferences and wants of people around you? Perhaps, you have an unrealistic expectation that if you are wise enough, everyone will be pleased. Seek to follow the voice of truth in your spirit, and all things will eventually work out fine.
- Do you have a tendency to over promise and under deliver? People are not pleased until you deliver what you have promised. Promises only raise people’s expectation, which will work against you if you do not deliver them. Hence, one would rather be less generous in commitment and yet consistently delivering beyond expectations.
Dear Lord, I recognize that only decisions based on the truth can bring abundant life. Help me to be bold and firm in making decisions that pleases you. As I resolve to deliver on every promise that I make, give me confidence to excel in all my commitments. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.