Meditations in 1 Samuel 37. Covenant Friendship
1 Sam 18:1-3 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
We arrive at a significant point in the account of the rise of the heart man chosen by God to become the next king. The way ahead was going to be difficult because the head and shoulders king in control of the country is going to make life difficult for David. It is somewhat ironical that one of the primary sources of encouragement for David in the immediate days ahead is going to come from the very family of Saul, to be specific his son Jonathan.
Now we have already noted that Jonathan was of a different mould to his father. Maybe it was something to do with youth, maybe it was something more but whereas his father was somewhat indecisive Jonathan was a get up and go, a young man who took the fight to the enemy. His first mention shows this:“Saul chose three thousand men from Israel; two thousand were with him at Micmash and in the hill country of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan at Gibeah in Benjamin. The rest of the men he sent back to their homes. Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it.” (1 Sam 13:2,3) Saul had split his fighting men into two bands, led the first bigger band himself but gave the smaller band to Jonathan. Jonathan immediately took them and went and sorted out the nearest enemy outpost at Geba.
Now some may say that was a rash move because it provoked the whole Philistine army to turn out and we read of Israel, “their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.” (v.6,7) Now I would suggest that the people reflected the feelings of their king who did nothing to rouse their spirits but wrongly offer sacrifices and get into trouble with Samuel (see 1Sam 13:8-13). With the dispersing of the Israelite army Saul was left with 600 men (v.15) and the Philistines couldn’t find an army to fight so instead they sent out raiding parties (v.17,18) with one small group setting up a lookout post on the cliffs at Micmash (v.23). So it all goes quiet for a moment and it is then that we find Jonathan again stirring the pot when he takes his armour bearer to challenge this outpost that we saw in meditation number 26 entitled ‘Extending faith’. You can’t keep him down. This is the sort of young man that he is.
Now it may be all of this that endears him to David and in David Jonathan senses a kindred spirit. In the intervening period David has become harp player to Saul and then done his giant slaying thing. Jonathan would have been around during all of this and we hear nothing more of him until this point where the growing bond between the two young man comes into being and will play a significant part of what follows.
Thus we now read, “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” (1 Sam 18:1) Now what is sad is that in today’s climate there are those who claim this was a homosexual relationship but there is no indication whatsoever of this. Indeed it also shows is that such people are ignorant of the classical experience of men with men in relationships of valour where quite contrary to the modern concept where one man takes on feminine role, both the men take on an even stronger masculine role that exults in feats of valour in battle. David has just slain Goliath and Jonathan exults in this. He is a warrior just looking for an opportunity to deal a blow against the enemy and even though Goliath had been a bridge too far for him, he rejoices that that wasn’t so for David. This is the thing that unites these two young warriors.
Indeed we see more signs of this in what follows: “From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house.” (v.2) So David remains there with Saul and we will see this as the start of his promotion in the eyes of the people, but then we read, “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. “ (v.3) Note there is nothing legalistic about this, no, ‘I ought to do this for this is what men do’, but it came out of his sense of unity with David, a heart unity of two warriors and so to seal this two-way pact, “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.”(v.4) Jonathan, the prince, son of king Saul, warrior that he is seals the pact (not with a kiss as modern homosexuals would do) but by giving his signs of royal affluence, his robe and tunic to David along with his weapons of warfare, his sword and bow, one warrior to another.
Now that was all there is to it at that point and later on we will see the significance of this and so we will leave it there, but there is much more to come.