David and Jonathan (20:1–42)
24–29 On the first day of the New Moon festival, Saul said nothing about David’s absence. He only thought to himself that David must have become ceremonially unclean80 and thus be unable to partake in the meal (verse 26).
But on the second day when David didn’t appear, Saul thought there must be some other reason; most forms of ceremonial uncleanness lasted only a day. So Saul asked Jonathan why David was absent (verse 27), and Jonathan gave him the answer that he and David had agreed upon (verse 6).
30–33 Saul responded with great anger. He warned Jonathan that if David continued to live, he would usurp the throne and Jonathan would7 never become king (verse 31). Then, when Jonathan again tried to defend David, Saul threw his spear at him-his own son! (verse 33). Finally Jonathan fully realized that his father intended to kill David.
34–40 Jonathan left the table at once; on that second day, neither he nor David ate at the king’s table.
The next morning Jonathan took a small boy with him and carried out the plan he and David had worked out earlier (verses 18–22). Jonathan shot his arrow on the far side of the boy, the prearranged signal that David must flee. Jonathan only shot one arrow, instead of the three he had planned. As soon as the boy had fetched the arrow, Jonathan sent him back to town so that he and David could meet together privately. Jonathan feared it might be their last meeting; as it turned out, they would meet only one more time before Jonathan’s death (1 Samuel 23:16–18).
41–42 Jonathan and David then shared together a brief farewell. David bowed before Jonathan three times as a sign of submission and respect. Jonathan reaffirmed their sworn friendship and also the covenant they had made, both between themselves(verse14)and between their descendants (verse 15). Then David left—to become a fugitive. He must have wondered how God was ever going to make him king.
In these past few chapters, David has given us an example of how to behave when we are persecuted. He didn’t retaliate, he kept close to God, and he remained humble. Jonathan, for his part, has given us an example of true friendship. He was willing to give up his throne—even his life—for his friend David (John 15:13). He truly loved David as himself (1 Samuel 18:1; Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31).