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Jonathan’s Covenant with David

Scripture Passage: 
1 Samuel 20:1-42

INTRODUCTION: Christians ought to be the best friends someone can have (Proverbs 18:24). This lesson shows the value of true friendship. It also shows the qualities that make a good friend. Consider the friendship of Jonathan to David.

  • It was stronger than personal desires (1 Samuel 20:4).
  • It was stronger than family relationships (1 Samuel 20:9).
  • It was stronger than ambition (1 Samuel 20:31).
  • It was stronger than the fear of death (1 Samuel 20:3, 33).
  • It was stronger than time (1 Samuel 20:15, 42).
  1. THE PLAN TO TEST SAUL (1 Samuel 20:1-9)
    1. The Fears of David (1 Samuel 20:1-3)
      1. Wondering why Saul seeks his life (1 Samuel 20:1)
      2. Fearing deception (1 Samuel 20:2-3)
        1. Jonathan does not yet believe it (1 Samuel 20:2).
        2. David believes Saul hides it (1 Samuel 20:3a).
        3. David fears that he is near death - “there is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3b; Job 7:7; Psalm 88:3; Ecclesiastes 12:6-7).
    2. The Plan of David (1 Samuel 20:4-7)
      1. Jonathan’s willingness to help (1 Samuel 20:4); “Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.”
      2. David’s absence at the time of the new moon (1 Samuel 20:5; see Numbers 28:11-15; Numbers 10:10; Colossians 2:16)
      3. Saul’s reaction to David’s absence is the test (1 Samuel 20:6-7).
        1. If Saul asks of David’s whereabouts, Jonathan is to say he is gone to make a sacrifice (1 Samuel 20:6).
        2. Saul’s reaction will indicate David’s security (1 Samuel 20:7).
    3. The Frustration of David (1 Samuel 20:8-9; cp. Acts 25:11)
      1. He reminds Jonathan of their covenant (1 Samuel 20:8a).
      2. He offers his life if he is guilty (1 Samuel 20:8b).
      3. Jonathan reaffirms his faithfulness to David (1 Samuel 20:9).
  2. THE COVENANT BETWEEN JONATHAN AND DAVID (1 Samuel 20:10-17)
    1. Jonathan’s Promise to David (1 Samuel 20:10-13)
      1. David asks how he will receive news of Saul’s reaction (1 Samuel 20:10).
      2. David and Jonathan retreat into a field to plan (1 Samuel 20:11).
      3. Jonathan promises to get news to David (1 Samuel 20:12-13).
        1. If his life is safe (1 Samuel 20:12)
        2. If his life is in danger (1 Samuel 20:13)
    2. Jonathan’s Request of David (1 Samuel 20:14-15)
      1. That David spare his life (1 Samuel 20:14); this is an interesting request from a man whose father had the “power” and desire to take David’s life.
      2. That David not cut off his seed (1 Samuel 20:15; see 2 Samuel 9:1, 7-8)
    3. Jonathan’s Covenant with David (1 Samuel 20:16-17; cp. 1 Samuel 18:3-4)
      1. A covenant with the house of David (1 Samuel 20:16)
      2. A covenant of love (1 Samuel 20:17); “for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”
  3. THE PLAN TO INFORM DAVID (1 Samuel 20:18-23)
    1. At the Stone Ezel (1 Samuel 20:18-19)
      1. The next day was the new moon and was the time when it would be known that David was missing (1 Samuel 20:18).
      2. David would be in hiding for three days (1 Samuel 20:19).
      3. After the third day, David would go remain by the stone Ezel (1 Samuel 20:19).
    2. Shooting the Arrows (1 Samuel 20:20-23)
      1. Jonathan will shoot three arrows (1 Samuel 20:20).
      2. The sign of peace and safety (1 Samuel 20:21)
        1. If Jonathan tell the lad that the arrows are on this side of David
        2. David can return because there is peace for David in Saul’s house.
      3. The warning of danger (1 Samuel 20:22-23)
        1. If Jonathan tells the lad that the arrows are beyond David
        2. David needs to leave because it is not safe.
      4. The reminder of the Lord’s involvement in the covenant between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:23)
  4. SAUL’S DETERMINATION TO KILL DAVID (1 Samuel 20:24-34)
    1. Silent the First Day (1 Samuel 20:24-26)
      1. David’s seat is empty (1 Samuel 20:24-25).
        1. David goes into hiding as planned (1 Samuel 20:24).
        2. Saul sits down to eat meat (1 Samuel 20:24-25).
        3. Abner sits by Saul’s side (1 Samuel 20:25).
        4. David’s place is empty (1 Samuel 20:25).
      2. Saul thinks David is unclean (1 Samuel 20:26).
        1. Saul says nothing of David’s absence on the first day.
        2. Saul thinks something happened to David to keep him from the meal.
    2. Angry the Second Day (1 Samuel 20:27-34)
      1. Saul’s inquiry (1 Samuel 20:27)
      2. Jonathan responds as planned (1 Samuel 20:28-29).
      3. Saul’s accusation (1 Samuel 20:30-31)
        1. He accuses Jonathan of treachery (1 Samuel 20:30).
        2. He warns Jonathan of losing the kingdom (1 Samuel 20:31); this is Saul’s real reason for hating David.
      4. Jonathan’s reaction (1 Samuel 20:32-34)
        1. Questions his father’s reasons (1 Samuel 20:32)
        2. Dodges his father’s javelin (1 Samuel 20:33)
        3. Leaves his father in anger (1 Samuel 20:34a)
        4. Grieves for David’s misfortune (1 Samuel 20:34b)
  5. JONATHAN’S MEETING WITH DAVID (1 Samuel 20:35-42)
    1. The Shooting of the Arrows (1 Samuel 20:35-39)
      1. Jonathan shoots the arrows beyond the lad (1 Samuel 20:35-38).
      2. Only Jonathan and David understand the meaning (1 Samuel 20:39).
    2. The Meeting of the Friends (1 Samuel 20:40-42)
      1. Jonathan sends the lad to the city (1 Samuel 20:40).
      2. Jonathan and David weep together (1 Samuel 20:41).
      3. Jonathan sends David on in peace (1 Samuel 20:42).
      4. NOTE:  “the LORD be between me and thee” is the best formula for friendship that is possible on this earth.

CONCLUSION: God does not tell us to check out our friends and make sure they are being friendly toward us, but He does tell us to be the right kind of a friend to others. If we are to have friends, we are to show ourselves friendly. What makes the best kind of a friend? Are you that kind of friend to others?

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 28:13

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.