Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 19-21
Today’s Reflection: 1 Samuel 20:30-32
30) Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31) For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32) Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?”
Background: After young David restored the honour of Israel’s army by killing the giant warrior Goliath (1 Samuel 17) he was brought before king Saul, and met the man who would become his ally and greatest friend: Saul’s eldest son Jonathan. The bible tells us that upon their meeting, Jonathan immediately took to the brave youngster and that he loved him as his own soul (1 Samuel 18:1). But what’s even more amazing is that something inspired Jonathan to give David his sword and armour (something David had refused to accept from Saul, in 1 Samuel 17:38-39). As the heir to the throne, Jonathan’s gift both foreshadowed the passing of the kingdom from his family to David and that Jonathan was content to see his friend rule over Israel, even at his own expense.
Betrayal or truth? Saul had received the prophesy, given to him by Samuel, that another would replace him and take his throne (1 Samuel 13:13), so David’s rapid ascent as a warrior and celebrated figure in Israel quickly attracted Saul’s rage. But Jonathan always defended David without question, even as David’s fame eclipsed his own (remember that Jonathan was a war hero in Israel as well, 1 Samuel 14:1-23). When finally it became clear to Jonathan that Saul was determined to kill him, even Saul’s warning that David was a threat to Jonathan assuming the throne of Israel would not deter him from protecting his friend. Jonathan made the pledge to be against David’s enemies, recognizing that would ultimately put him at odds with his own father. Rather Jonathan was willing to accept God’s will, only asking that he and his house have a place in David’s kingdom (1 Samuel 20:14-16). By being willing to give up the throne he had been groomed for and by betraying his wicked father, Jonathan showed himself to be the most loyal of friends and faithful to God’s true purposes.
True Bromance: Much has been made of the friendship between David and Jonathan—including the unfortunate inference from texts like this one that there was something more than friendship to their friendship.
2 Samuel 1:26 – I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.
But recently in our own culture there has been a rediscovery of the importance and value of deep, meaningful friendships between men—some through popular movies and TV shows which colloquially refer to these relationships as ‘bromance’. Such relationships between female friends have long been common, but for men who tend to be less open about sharing their feelings and struggles with each other, close relationships with other men are still somewhat rare. And yet, all of the sociological and psychological knowledge at our disposal tells us the importance of having friends you can rely on, even warning of the medical consequences of keeping important issues bottled up. Even if married and in a wonderful loving relationship with a woman, there are certain subjects men can only talk about with other men who can understand the uniquely male perspective. Every man could use a true friend like Jonathan, someone who will look out for our welfare, and even be willing to sacrifice their own ambitions in favour of God’s will for us.
Proverbs 17:17 – A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
Proverbs 18:24 – A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.