... Jerusalem ... 22 Just as the new earth and the new heavens will endure by my power, so your descendants and your name will endure ... Isaiah 66 (GNT), 18 ... Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and its PALACE restored. Jeremiah 30:18 (GNT)


David and Jonathan: astounding friendship!

26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
2 Samuel 1:26 (NIV)

These are words David sang in a song for Jonathan and King Saul after they died in battle. What did he actually mean by these words?

But first, who were these people, Saul, Jonathan and David?

King Saul was the first anointed king of Israel, 1 Samuel 10:1 but after his disobedience, 1 Samuel 15, the Almighty Father choose David to be king over Israel, 1 Samuel 16:1-13. King Saul became jealous of David and didn't want him to become king after him. He tried  to kill him in several occasions. And to make matters worse, King Saul consulted the wrong people, an occultist, 1 Samuel 28. A clear example that having the trust and support of the Almighty Father just doesn't go with being busy with occultism whatever the excuse might be. Meanwhile King Saul's eldest son Jonathan became and remained friends with David. So Jonathan didn't approve of his father's actions. 

Jonathan was first in line to the throne of Israel as well as a brave and successful high ranking military officer, 1 Samuel 14. He was commander over David, 1 Samuel 20:28-29. He was his father's confident, 1 Samuel 20:2, but despite this he defied his father because of David, 1 Samuel 24:34.

David the son of Jesse was a sheppard who showed bravery while looking after the herd, and later while defeating the giant Goliath, 1 Samuel 17. He was also an artist, a good musician who played the harp and he went as such to King Saul's court on his request and entered in his service. He was good looking and an able speaker, 1 Samuel 16:14-23. David had faith in the Almighty God, 1 Samuel 17:37-47, and kept God's commends, Psalm 40:8, 1 Kings 15:5. After defeating Goliath, 1 Samuel 17, King Saul made David a military officer over a thousand men in his army, which pleased all Saul's officers and men, 1 Samuel 18:5,14-16. God was with David and he was successful in all he did. So the people of Israel and Judah loved him, and during celebrations after battle they attributed to him tens of thousands, but to King Saul thousands. So King Saul became jealous and afraid of David, and he began to try to kill David starting by throwing a spear to him, but David dodged him twice.  

Jonathan was aware that God choose David to be king of Israel and accepted his own position in this, 1 Samuel 23:17. While King Saul's actions were jealousy, 1 Samuel 18:6-9, and fear driven, 1 Samuel 18:10-16. Ultimately David flees from King Saul, 1 Samuel 21:10-11.

How and when did Jonathan and David's friendship started?

After the Goliath event, 1 Samuel 17.

1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
1 Samuel 18:1

1 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.
1 Samuel 18:1 (KJV) 

Although it is possible that Jonathan already saw David before that, when he was playing the harp for his father King Saul, 1 Samuel 16:14-23. But why after David's fight? Could it be, Jonathan saw in David someone he could trust his life with on the battle field?! The same way David's life would be safe with him. Jonathan also must have known there were more giants to fight - as David and his men in deed did later - and wanted to have the one man that single handedly killed one of them, to be on his side under his commend in battle. Both of them being soldiers, just as soldiers nowadays, knew how important it was to trust those who are member of their team with their lives.

And Jonathan being the eldest and first in line to the throne, probably was gathering his own heroes, best soldiers, around him. Smart move, being friends with the one who made sure both him and his father King Saul wouldn't loose face in front of their army and people, the Israelites. Of course Jonathan's feelings, for decisions and choices aren't only about reason, were all part of this process. But feelings of friendship are feelings of friendship and shouldn't be confused with other type of feelings.
By the way, keeping people safe and gathering heroes, something David learned through his friendship with Jonathan? For later David did the same, 1 Samuel 22:23, 1 Chronicles 11:10-47.

And when it was completely clear that King Saul wanted to kill David,
… 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?” ...
… 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. ...
… 41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.
1 Samuel 20:1-41

Jonathan choose to make a covenant with David and David's house!

Jonathan was the one who took the initiative to make this covenant, not David.

3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18:3-4


16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD call David’s enemies to account.” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. …
… 42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
1 Samuel 20:16-42

Jonathan kept reassuring David that they would remain friends and that he accepts the choice God made to have David as king of Israel instead of his father. A parallel of this is God's friendship with Abraham in which he also kept reassuring Abraham of their friendship and his promises made to him, Genesis 12, 15, 17.

16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” 18 The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.
1 Samuel 23:16-18

Was King Saul and Jonathan safe with David?

Yes, even though King Saul at first was determined to kill David, 1 Samuel 22:23. David had the chance on several occasions to kill King Saul and there for have Jonathan his successor killed, but he didn't do this, 1 Samuel 24. He didn't want to kill God's king, 1 Samuel 24:7-8.
And David despite everything promised King Saul, when he finally recognized David as the one to be king by God's choice, that he would always spare Saul's family, 1 Samuel 24:22-23. In doing so David kept as far as he was concerned both of them and their offspring safe.

King Saul and his tree sons including the eldest, Jonathan didn't die at the hands of David, 1 Samuel 31 and 1 Chronicles 10.
David's reaction to their death, 2 Samuel 1. He sang a lament in the memory of King Saul and Jonathan, 2 Samuel 1:17-27. And David did kill those who harmed King Saul's descendants, 2 Samuel 4.

As for David, he went on and became by the grace of the Almighty Father a great king renowned to this day, 2 Samuel 5.

72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
Psalm 78:72

So, what did the friendship of Jonathan and David ultimately resulted in?

Jonathan's friendship protected and saved David's life. And Jonathan was probably the first of the elite to recognized David as the one to be king which must have been both an encouragement and a comfort to David. The Almighty Father showed his grace through their friendship.  

The reach of this friendship went on for decades. For example, Shimei's life, a descendant of Saul, was spared by King David, 2 Samuel 16:5, because of David's promise to Jonathan's father King Saul. Although later Shimei was killed because he did disobey the orders of King Salomon, 1 Kings 2:8-9, 1 Kings 2:36-46.

And Mephibosheth, 2 Samuel 4:4, a descendant of Jonathan was treated well by King David, 2 Samuel 9. Although later he did disown Mephibosheth in favour of his servant Ziba, because he stayed in Jerusalem hoping he would be restored to the throne of King Saul instead of leaving while King David was fleeing Jerusalem.


What did David's words in 2 Samuel 1:26, I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women, actually meant? And Jonathan's reason to become friends with David that he became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself?

Not, that Jonathan and David belonged to each other in body and spirit, Malachi 2:14-16, nor became one flesh, Genesis 2:23-24. For their covenant of friendship was before the Lord God, 1 Samuel 20:8, meaning in accordance with all God's laws. That is the way Jonathan the senior officer who initiated their friendship wanted it. And David, who was positioned under the command of his senior officer's called Jonathan his brother. David, a poet trying to find words to express his love for and gratitude to his friend Jonathan whom against all odds kept him safe for so long.

What does biblical scripture say about to love another? Yeshua Messiah/ Jesus Christ in answering the question,
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

said it like this,

37... “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 [a:Deuteronomy 6:5, b: Leviticus 19:18]

So love God Almighty above all with all that is in you, and your neighbour who ever that may be as yourself!

Whichever interpretation one would want to give to David's words in 2 Samuel 1:26, one thing is sure, who ever trusted David was safe with him. Even King Saul who wanted to kill him was. And, David himself experienced first hand what it meant to be safe with a friend whom truly protected him with his life. And he kept people as safe as his friend Jonathan kept him! 

To this day, their friendship sets an example and is an inspiration to many.

God bless you,

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Author: © Mrs A. vd Laan-LeitoPosted in: King David