Day 15

David and Jonathan

from the 1 & 2 Samuel reading plan


1 Samuel 20:1-42, 1 Samuel 21:1-15, 1 Samuel 22:1-23, Psalm 34:1-3, Matthew 10:34-39

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 20:1-42, 1 Samuel 21:1-15, 1 Samuel 22:1-23, Psalm 34:1-3, Matthew 10:34-39

I don’t know if it’s because I’m the daughter of a Navy Captain, or because my heart beats to the rhythm of the tides, but I feel most settled at the ocean. Recently, on an early morning walk, I remembered a line from a poem I wrote in sixth grade: “the waves jump up and hit my face / in and out, like fancy lace…” Relentless and submissive, joyful and with full abandon, the waves come and serve themselves to the shore. They do not pause several hundred feet out to decide whether or not they should move forward.

If only making decisions came so easily for me.

Granted, it’s their ontological design, so there’s that. But I still long for a simple, clear confidence of direction when making difficult decisions—especially relational ones that cause me to choose one loyalty over another. Or when things are simply inconvenient and I know the consequences will be costly. I confess I find it easier to hover out from the shore rather than risk crashing on the wrong one.

I admire the clarity of mind Jonathan displays in 1 Samuel. Early on, he’s presented with a tangled, messy, relational situation, yet Jonathan honors his commitment to David without hesitation, promising, “Whatever you say, I will do for you” (1 Samuel 20:4). Boom. I can almost hear the splash and feel the spray on my face.

In that split second, Jonathan has committed to protect his friend David from his own father, King Saul. In doing so, he helps to preserve a kingship, which ultimately results in the Messiah’s arrival and our own salvation rescue. Jonathan couldn’t have known the long-range significance in the moment, or what the ultimate cost of such a commitment would be (1 Samuel 31). But he did know the next right thing to do, and he did it with moral clarity and a clear conscience.

My decisions aren’t usually life-and-death, and the accompanying narrative is not nearly as dramatic. But when it comes to decision-making in my own life,  I’ve experienced the tension between relational loyalties and moral clarity in more ways than I can count.

Take the other night—a somewhat trivial, but practical example. We were sitting in our courtyard, as our neighbor’s two small dogs continued to bark… at 11 o’clock… pm.

It’s not a new issue for us; there have been conversations, requests, and reminders. We could’ve very easily called the police to come issue a citation. It would even be morally appropriate to do so. But I happen to know our neighbor is an older, divorced woman who lives alone, and those two dogs are her family. I also know she would nearly die if the police showed up at her door. So after hesitating for about 20 minutes, I texted her a kind but firm request that she bring her dogs inside since it was so late. She did, and the next day she sent me a heartfelt text of apology.

Long-range significance? I’m not sure, except that she knows we pastor a church and pray for her regularly. But I do know it’s better to extend grace and compassion—overlooking my own temporary inconvenience—rather than risk whatever potential kingdom fruit may come from our relationship.

Many decisions cost far more than this small disturbance in our neighborhood. But even in the small things, God is teaching me about His presence in all things. When my choices are guided by what will bring glory to God and grow fruit for His kingdom, the decisions come more easily, and with quicker clarity. As Jesus Himself tells His disciples in the last part of Matthew 10:39, whenever we lose our life for His sake, we will find it in Him.

Perhaps there is a rhythm to be found here yet—like the waves.

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Kim Thomas is a painter, author, and the Curate at The Village Chapel in Nashville, Tennessee, where she and husband Jim call home. Together they were called to start the church in February of 2001. Her undergrad studies were in art while her graduate degree is in theological studies. Kim has written 5 books and paints in the Japanese medium of Nihonga. The abstract work allows for a slow interaction between artist and materials. When asked how would you describe an ideal day… “Words and images without words—that’s a perfect day’s work.”

Post Comments (44)

44 thoughts on "David and Jonathan"

  1. Let me be more like the waves. Let me relentless and submissive- and even joyful. This is my prayer.

  2. churchmouse says:

    There is so much movement in these passages that it is almost dizzying. David and Jonathan go back and forth with their plan. David is constantly evading Saul. Doeg is exacting his espionage. David is feigning insanity for survival’s sake. David is hiding in a cave – with 400 desperate, discontented men as followers. David leaves his parents in one city and is on the run yet again. Saul is doing his own moving – sending messengers to the priest Ahimelech. Finally someone stands still – Ahimelech takes a stand for the truth – and loses his life. 85 priests are also slaughtered. Doeg destroys the city of Nob. A lone survivor flees to David. Whew…. It. Is. Dizzying. And unfair. And the emotions are all over the place. This is life in God’s will? Yes. It is. In all its dizziness. God’s hand was behind it all. The depravity and paranoia of Saul is revealed in all its ugliness. David’s life was meant for greatness but it was not without fear, danger, tragedy, sorrow, loneliness and hardship. Yet David was able to proclaim “You will be safe with me.” Ah.. Really, David? Because your life is not looking like a walk in the park. No it most certainly wasn’t – but David was a man after God’s own heart. God had a purpose. David knew the promise. And David trusted God to deliver. May I be as David in remembering God’s purpose and promises for me. When my days are tough, may I trust that I am safe with Him. He is with me when I’m panting on the run from the pursuit by the enemy. He is with me when I’m alone without family support. He is with me when I’m in the dark cave. He is with me when I’m surrounded by some unusual characters. He is with me when life is unfair. He is with me… And I am safe. Safe enough to take just the next right step. I know He is already going on ahead. I just keep on following. Safe. With Him. Always safe.

    1. Gina Glennon says:

      Great insight. Well said.

    2. Shelley says:

      Love your thoughts on this passage … He IS with us!!!
      David’s life was meant for greatness but it was not without fear, danger, tragedy, sorrow, loneliness and hardship. Amen!

    3. EarlyBird says:

      Amen, sister!

    4. GramsieSue says:

      Perfectly stated. He is with us! He will never leave us! Love you, Sister ❤️

    5. Cecilia says:

      Oh you perfectly capture how I felt reading these passages & bring it home beautifully & is super helpful to me today. Thank you.

    6. Cecelia Enns Schulz says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Each day he carries us in his arms.

  3. Laura says:

    Not only does Jonathan go against his father, he gives up all rights to his future kingship. “For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, you shall not be established nor shall your kingdom. So now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” (1 Samuel 30:31). Jonathan must have been a man filled with humility, and he must have had great trust in what the Lord was doing. He realizes what being friends with David means for himself, yet he does not hesitate in doing so.

    1. Tori Rose says:

      So true!

    2. aprilinsydney says:

      Also a man of his word, as Jonathan unequivocally honoured his covenant with David.

  4. JessMC says:

    It’s hard to read about Saul’s continued downfall. As he withdraws more and more into his anger, pride, envy, wrath etc it’s sad and easy to see why he is where he is because I’m reading from an outside perspective. But can I see these things in my own heart? While reading about Saul I find myself asking these questions….
    Where is the pride in my own heart?
    Where do I find myself envying others?
    I find myself reflecting on this because none of us are immune to the schemes of the devil. It’s easy to see these things in others but ignore them in our own lives.
    Just last night I found myself envying someone for an insignificant reason. That envy quickly spiraled into anger and frustration. The Lord quickly revealed to me my sin and my heart was broken with repentance. I’m thankful for the Lord’s intervention in my life and His continued grace. I feel like he gave me a real example of how I need to be strong against the schemes of Satan by filling my heart with the voice of scripture reminding me that I do not want to dwell in the darkness of envy and pride but the light of freedom and grace!

    1. Shelley says:

      Amen sister!

    2. Emily B. says:

      As I get older, I find it easier to not simply dismiss Saul as a sinner/”bad guy” but to see how his decisions reflect a heart that has wandered further and further away from God. I can see how I can fall into the same trap as Saul, and suddenly he’s not such a villain anymore. Thank you for sharing how God’s working in you through these passages.

  5. Rebekah DeLibro says:

    Betrayal in any sense is devastating and I feel for Jonathan and David in this passage. The Lord put the right decision into Jonathan’s heart and he saw it through knowing that his father was a corrupt and jealous king. When I read Matthew 10:34-39 that we are to acknowledge and love the Lord our God above all others. It makes me think of a man who I grew up listening to his story of being a son of two holocaust survivors. As a young teen he met a christian woman that taught the neighborhood youth about Jesus on her doorstep. He became a christian himself and his Jewish parents disowned him and he has become an amazing speaker, champion and servant of the Lord because he chose the path of acknowledging and following God. I know he was scared and unsure giving up his life and love from his parents but he did it without hesitation even though he didn’t know what God had in store for him. It is humbling and all of us may not be tested in this way but I hope I would also proclaim my love for the Lord over all others if faced with this in life.

  6. Kathy says:

    All I can say is, “Wow!” I am completely blown away by this devotion this morning. School has just started back and one of my prayers this year is that I will have His eyes, His ears, and His heart. So much of what is said this morning fits into that prayer.
    “It is better to extend grace and compassion – overlooking my own temporary inconvience – rather than risk whatever potential kingdom fruit may come from our relationship.”
    “Even in the small things, God is teaching me about His presence in all things.”
    Ya’ll, I am sitting here speechless with the awesomeness of God!
    Be blessed, sisters!

  7. Kari says:

    Oh my goodness what a clearly written, meaningful beauty. This one is being saved in my notes! Exactly what I needed to hear right now. Thank you so much!!

    1. Kathy says:

      I agree, Kari. I’m putting quotes from this on post-it notes to put on my desk at school.

  8. Miranda says:

    What a perfect message for this season of my life. Thank you for your obedience in sharing what God shows you.

    1. Kari says:

      I agree!!

      1. Kerrie says:

        This is so good and as I read Im brought to the words David knew what God had promised and that gave Him comfort. I at times struggled with not having that clear of calling. David knew he would be King so he knew he would survive the enemy and the cave. Reading this again, i realized the calling and confidence we all have even if we’ve not heard the specific thing we will do for God as clearly as David is do what God has said to do. Serve others. Think of them higher than yourself, be selfless (Jonathan was selfless), genuine love like the love of Jesus is demonstrated here by Jonathan. He gave up the throne and his family for the one who was the true King. Beautiful

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