Memo 1047: A Conflicted Friend
We have established the last few weeks that Saul was indeed intent on killing David and everyone seemed to know it except one person: his son Jonathan. Let's look at how that played out in this week's Memo to see how this impacted David and his anointing to be king.
David went to his friend and asked the reason for Saul's hatred:
Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?” “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!” But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death" (1 Samuel 20:1-3).
Jonathan didn't want to believe that David's depiction was true, but at least he agreed to investigate and pass on what he found to his friend. He and David concocted a plan that would inform David if it was safe to come back or if he had to flee. We then read,
Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David. Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David (1 Samuel 20:30-34).
Saul's venom spilled over into his relationship with his son and Jonathan had no choice but to recognize the reality that his father was a murderer. Jonathan kept his word and sent a message to David to run for his life, having said before he had his encounter with his father, "But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever" (1 Samuel 20:22-23, emphasis added). Jonathan saw God's hand in the matter that perhaps God was behind David's dilemma but that has always led me to ask one question about this matter.
Jonathan knew his father was a madman. He knew he was to serve as David's second-in-command. Jonathan loved David and had made a covenant of love and friendship with him. All that being true, the question is: Why did Jonathan choose to stay with his crazed father?
A COSTLY ERROR
Of course, we can only conjecture an answer, but in my mind, Jonathan made a fatal mistake. Perhaps he could not break free from his family's gravitational pull. Maybe he felt he would do more good in the court than on the run with his friend. My own sense is that he enjoyed life close to the throne and prided himself in being able to read his father's moods, which clearly he could not. Jonathan was conflicted concerning his role and place, and his decision to stay with his deranged father cost him his life in a battle fighting next to him, and David never had a second-in-command, for Jonathan died a premature death, falling short of God's revealed will for his life.
How about you? Do you have relationships like Jonathan did that are keeping you from engaging and fulfilling your purpose? Do you know where you are supposed to be, or who you are to be with, but you can't seem to break out of the orbit of your current world? Or maybe you are like David who wanted to stay with Saul and Jonathan but "the Lord has sent you away"? Jesus was clear that no relationship can or should be a priority over the will of God. David acted on this and prospered, Jonathan did not and failed. You may have to make the same choice between a relationship that has strong emotional bonds but has you tied down or being free to do what God wants you to do. As we learned in this lesson, that choice may be the difference between life and death. Have a blessed week!