Bible Readings for August 28th
Although the story of Saul is tragic, narrating the slow descent of a man who seemed to start off his reign so well, Saul’s legacy nevertheless includes one very bright point: his son Jonathan. Jonathan’s life, however, also involves tragedy, since the sins of Jonathan’s father, Saul, have meant that Jonathan himself would never become king over Israel. Nevertheless, Jonathan’s deep humility and integrity leads him to pledge eagerly to David all the support he can offer here in 1 Samuel 20.
The critical background information to understand the friendship between David and Jonathan is found in 1 Samuel 18, where we first read that David and Jonathan loved each other with the deepest of friendship, so that their souls were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1). There, we find that Jonathan, despite being the prince of Israel and the heir apparent to the throne of Israel, nevertheless swore a covenant with David out of his deep love for his friend (1 Sam. 18:3).
Here in 1 Samuel 20, the two friends not only renew their covenant (1 Sam. 20:16), but Jonathan pledges to protect David from the wrath of Saul once again. What is interesting, though, is that Jonathan demands in return that David pledge to protect Jonathan’s house (that is, his family) in the event that Jonathan will die. Jonathan seems to understand that for David to become the next king, Jonathan might die. This is not a source of bitterness for Jonathan but a source of joy, so that Jonathan prays, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies” (1 Sam. 20:16) when he makes his covenant with David.
It is obvious to us that David’s story foreshadows the story of Jesus, since Jesus is the Son of David and since the New Testament explicitly draws many comparisons between the events of David’s life and those of Jesus’. But, we should not allow David to eclipse the glory of Jonathan in foreshadowing Jesus as well. In Jonathan, we see a prince willing to die to uphold the covenant God has sworn to David and to protect David from the wrath of his own father—and all of this happens even though Jonathan is the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. In Jonathan, then, we see an uncommon level of humility—the same kind of humility modeled by Jesus Christ himself, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8).
Therefore, let us have the same mind—that is, the same mind of humility modeled by Jonathan and ultimately by Jesus himself—among ourselves, looking not to our own interests but to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.