Watching your back

1 Samuel 20 SCC 03/01/15

I should have changed the title to ĎTrusting God can seem like a lost causeí Jonathans Faith



1. David was wondering if he had done something wrong that had provoked Saulís hatred v 1. Each of Davidís questions emphasizes the unjust threat upon his life. Jonathan assured David that he had done nothing wrong but Jonathan did not understand the intensity of Saulís hatred for David. He was in a state of denial v 2.

NB: Perhaps you have questioned God this way. Walking with God is sometimes confusing. We need to learn, as David, that when we try to follow God faithfully some people will oppose us simply because we want to do Godís will. Their antagonism is not the result of our sinfulness but theirs.

NB: sometimes God use meanspiritedness latent in a person to antagonize us. We are undeserving of it but God shapes our character by it. That is more important than not.

2. There are several oaths and strong affirmations in this chapter v 3, 12, 13, 16, 17, 23, 42. The one that David made in verse 3 is very strong. He believed correctly that he was in mortal danger, and he tried to make Jonathan see this. Jonathan was open to anything David wanted to suggest to prove his point v 4.

3. The new moon was the occasion David used for a ruse v 5. David would normally have been present at the kingís table since he was one of Saulís high-ranking military commanders. However, David evidently believed that Saul would try to kill him again if he ate with the king. Hiding in a field seems to be an extreme measure. Why could David not have gone home to Bethlehem or stayed with friends who would have kept his presence secret from Saul? Perhaps David trusted no one but Jonathan now. When issues flare it is easy to see danger lurking everywhere. It can be overwhelming.

4. Apparently Davidís family held a reunion on one of these holidays each year v 6. David did not go to Bethlehem but hid in a field. At the beginning of his period of flight from Saul, David resorted to trickery as well as trust in the Lord. As this trial wore on, he learned to trust God more completely, as we shall see. His trials purified his character.

NB: An aspect spiritual maturity is the capacity to depend more and control less. Immaturity needs to control.

5. David proposed his test v 7 to convince Jonathan that Saul really intended to kill David. The covenant to which David referred was the one he and Jonathan had previously made v 8. David appealed to it and asked Jonathan to kill him himself if he must die rather than allowing Saul to do it. Jonathan refused to kill David but promised to tell him if Saul responded angrily as David predicted he would v 9. Jonathan then suggested a plan by which he could communicate with David without revealing Davidís location v 10-11.



1. Jonathan appealed to the Lord in an oath showing the seriousness of the situation v 12-13. He prayed that God would be with David as he had been with Saul, namely, as Israelís king v 13. These verses indicate clearly that Jonathan believed David would someday be king and subdue his enemies, including Saul v 13-15.

PT: The faith required to believe my best interests are served when your best interests means I lose is a mark of maturity. This is Jonathanís moment to shine.

He had come to appreciate the Lordís loyal love and now called on David to deal similarly with his descendants in the future. He secured a promise from David that when he reigned he would protect Jonathanís family. Loving kindness v 14-15 is a covenant term of commitment v 16, 42.

2. Previously David and Jonathan had made a covenant that Jonathan would yield the throne to David and support him. Now David promised not to kill Jonathanís descendants after David became king even though common to kill descendents of past royal house. Jonathan called on God to require an accounting for antagonism at the hands of Davidís enemies v 16. This was the second vow that David had made after the one in which he pledged his love for Jonathan personally v 17.

NB: Who would have thunk David is spared by the very one he is replacing as king. Jonathan decides not to fight God. When we accept what god has for us we can be content he is in charge.


1. Saul would miss David at his feast not only because his seat would be vacant but also because warriors normally expressed their support for their king by eating with him at important meals v 18. Davidís absence would have raised a question in Saulís mind about Davidís commitment to him. David had hidden himself on that eventful day v 19. The shooting of arrows was probably just a practical way to signal David. Jonathan reminded David of their agreement as they parted v 23.

2. Jonathan was a man who gave to David more than he received; and in doing so he showed how different he was from the typical king described in whose sole function was to take.

PT: Life has its givers and its takers. You can afford to be magnanimous when you understand God determines your portion. Takers do not know God. They believe he is stingy. Givers experience the benevolence of God to them and can afford to be magnanimous. Jonathans an example of such.

Jonathan was supremely a giveróand David, though destined to become a king, persistently declined to take anything away from Saul. He patiently waited for God to give him the crown.



1. Saul concluded at first that David missed the meal because he was unclean. His continued absence required an explanation. Saul looked to Davidís friend to provide that. Saul hated David so much he could not bring himself to even use his name v 27, 31. The son of . . . was a mild insult. By insulting Jonathanís mother Saul was intensifying his insult v 30. Various translations have Saulís epithet, ďYou bastard!Ē. ďYou son of a rebellious slut!Ē ďYou stupid son of a bitch!Ē Jonathan had chosen David as his friend to his own shame v 30. David would take Jonathanís place as the king.

NB: When you want what God wants it may seem to others like youíre an idiot. The reason is they live temporally and so no time to lose anything. You focus eternally and losing here gains there. Think about the derogatory condemnation of his dad. The HS inspired Paul to write Ďfathers do not exasperate your children so they lose heartí Col 3 or Ďfathers do not provoke your children to angerí Eph 5. Evidently shoving a fathers weight around can be a real problem. Listen, your kids never asked to come into the world. Who are you to lord it over them? How about fathering them?

2. Jonathan had chosen David to the shame of his motherís nakedness in that Jonathanís conception and birth were useless if David replaced him. Jonathan would fail to achieve the purpose for which he had been born, in Saulís way of thinking v 31.

NB: Saul perceived David as a threat to his continuing dynasty, not just to his personal rule. Clearly Saul was rejecting and opposing Godís will that his reign and his dynasty would not endure. Saul said he would kill David so David could not do what God had said He would do.

3. Jonathanís ambitions were not the same as Saulís (Amen). He wanted Godís plans to succeed more than he wanted to become Israelís king.

NB: when you want what God wants more than what you want then you have progressed toward spiritual maturity. You are no longer a spiritual boy, which most ministries only produce today. Ministry today influences males to stay of trouble but not how to grow up.

Therefore he interceded for David again v 32. Saul, exasperated by what he interpreted as Jonathanís selfless folly, tried to execute Davidís advocate v 33. This brush with death finally convinced Jonathan that David had been right about his dadís intentions. It also convinced him to get out of the kingís presence. Jonathan departed in hot anger because of Saulís attitude.



1. The next morning Jonathan proceeded to communicate Saulís intentions to David in the way they had previously planned v 35-40. God permitted David and Jonathan to say good-bye face to face. David gave proper respect to Jonathan as the kingís son even though they were best friends v 41. They parted reminding themselves of the commitments they had made to each other and to their descendantís v 42. David and Jonathan decided not to see each other again for their mutual protection.

2. This chapter reveals that both Saul and Jonathan realized that David was the Lordís anointed who would one day replace Saul. However, their responses to this inevitable situation were opposite because their desires were opposite. Saul wanted to see his own plans fulfilled, but Jonathan wanted to see Godís will done. Jonathan faced a terrible tension since Saulís attitude divided Jonathanís loyalty. He solved this problem by putting Godís will first. He submitted to the domestic authority of his father and to the civil authority of his king by obeying Saul except when obedience to Saul conflicted with obedience to God.



1. Performing the will of God can often be personally costly.

2. Performing the will of God can be personally threatening.

3. God is not a God of safety. God took risks and gambles.