David and Jonathan

Open Your Bible

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

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.


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.”

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47 thoughts on "David and Jonathan"

  1. Abigail Woodall says:

    I am really struggling with this study today. We have a roommate who has not been paying rent since February. It was an issue earlier this year, then the COVID pandemic hit and the problem has gotten worse. I feel angry when I see him going out with friends to spend his days hiking, gaming, or cycling, then claiming to not have any luck with finding work. I am struggling to find the line between being compassionate during difficult times and not being taken advantage of. I do not want to handle the situation in a way that does not bring glory to the Lord. I am praying for wisdom in how to handle the situation with grace and kindness.

  2. Audrey Flores says:

    I am about to enter a season of rest. Which for me is as exciting and nerve racking as today’s reading!! I mapped out my season and couldn’t believe that at my lowest The Holy Spirit has me write depending on God underneath a drawing of me. I find David’s faith here incredibly inspiring. It didn’t matter if he was in caves, hiding, suffering tragedies/ trauma. David knew and fully trusted God. Not once does he hesitate. I can’t wait to be humbled greatly so I may get to that crazy type of faith.

  3. Krystyn Carey says:

    I want to make decisions with this kind of moral clarity!

  4. Micahlee says:

    There are so many changes and decisions happening in my life right now. I am graduating college and getting married and moving out. It’s going to be a year of transition and I hope that I can find the rhythm that is spoken about in today’s reading.

  5. Shelby says:

    The reading for today, was SPOT on. Fabulously written by Mrs. Kim Thomas, as well.

    The waves during this section of 1 Samuel are overwhelmingly stressful, makes my heart go out for David not knowing ultimately what he did wrong to Saul yet he trusts that God will provide! Such faith is admirable. What mostly intrigued me was the deeper study of Matthew 10:34-39. Throughly reading it multiple times; it describes the struggles we will have with our own family. In verse 34 it states “Don’t assume that I came to bring peace on earth.” The way I took it was: God does not promise that today is the best life you will ever have, it will actually be the roughest/toughest/miserable/trialing due to the sin nature and how well we can fight it off. Ultimately the ‘best’ life we will be given is that after we fight our tribulations and enter the kingdom of Heaven. Continuing on into v35, it reflects Micah 7:6 and correlates with the separation of the closest earthly ties we can have (our own family). Verse 37 signifies the love of family is no account to take precedence of the love of Christ; Christ’s love is the closest and stronger we (should) given then to our families. Vv 38-39, meaning to follow the Lord–bringing your own cross to Him and acting in this sin-infested world such as Christ, as we seek to desire and be like Jesus we shall find Him.

    It moved me because researching deeper into this passage and seeing Saul react to Jonathan (the rough harsh way he did about now not giving him kingship), it still hurt Jonathon yet he leaned onto faith of God and David to build him up and get him through. It opened by eyes and basically said to me that family will hurt the hardest hurt but God will not hurt you.

    For instance, a family is strongest together when God is the foundation. Deut. 11:1, “You shall therefore love the Lord your God and keep his charge, his statutes, his rules, and his commandments always.” My family fell apart because my parents felt as if their childhood church attendance was enough to carry them throughout life and they “paid their dues” luckily I was able to intermittently go with my mom’s parents. My parents didn’t focus on God together and lost sight of one another’s heart, trending into a dysfunctional, alcohol, abusive, marriage. My sister fell into the pattern of such life, she became a splitting image of my dad; drinks, hangs out with the wrong crowd, drugs, and wants to party all the time and has unhealthy relationships. I pray so much for her as I took an entire different route (obtained my Bachelor’s in Nursing at age 22 and became an ER nurse at age 23). She won’t talk to me because she views me as my dad does ‘worthless, waste of time, not part of the family, Bible thumper, goodie-goodie, etc’ after my dad kicked me out of the house when I was halfway through my senior year of high school for being too involved in school (when she was in 8th grade). She is 4 years younger than me and it makes me sad that she chooses the route that she does but she doesn’t want to see life how I do and doesn’t speak to me because of it.

    Just because you were born into this family, doesn’t make you family.. I have heard. I don’t have a relationship with my dad or sister. My mom I do a little as she lives in a nursing home from a bad fall a year ago and she’s intermittently confused; she had apologized for all the bad things she did and said that she should have never treated me abusive as she did.. after that I felt healed from everything. My dad doesn’t show remorse and my sister just doesn’t appear to care.

    Everyday as I lean more heavily on our gracious Lord. I realize that I’m better with the positive people in my life and ever so grateful for the Lord providing me my grandparents who saved my life by introducing Jesus.

    1. Melissa says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this. Although my story isn’t the same, I can relate to not feeling wanted or guided by at least one parent whose love and attention I so desperately wanted. Thankfully, his heart is slowly softening and his drinking/drug use has become less common. I think it goes to show that although the devil aims to kill and destroy, Jesus can make absolute beauty out of our ashes. If it wasn’t for this rocky family life, I don’t think I would have realized how much I needed Jesus or how much He adores and loves me. I pray that your dad and sister would know how much He loves them, too. I also pray for the hurt you have felt over the years and continue to feel.

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Shelby, this is Abby from the SRT team. Thank you so much for being willing to share your story here. We will be praying for you and your family in the midst of all of this. If you haven’t already, we would also encourage you to seek out and talk to a local pastor, counselor, or trusted mentor about these things. Being in community with other believers and having someone to process all of this with can often make a world of difference. We are so glad to have you as part of this community!

    3. Kim Thomas says:

      Dearest Shelby, I pray you will know the deep joy of belonging that comes from being chosen, kept, loved and known as a daughter of God the Father. And I also pray that you will find a sense of “chosen” family among close friends with whom you can share your life and the dailyness of shared memories. The Lord be with you dear one.

  6. Tiesha says:

    As I began to read about the waves moving forward without any hesitation because that is what they were made to do; a huge gulp I take. 1- it’s amazing that I read this after I have been going back and forth about pursuing nursing. It’s something I never thought was in God’s plans for me; I mean I’ve been in the field for almost 15 years and the last 10 as a CMA. I know the work and huge sacrifice this will need at 40yrs old! Is this really what You want God?
    Why can I not just do as the waves continue to do and faithfully without any questions.
    The pure love that Jonathan shows David in 1Samuel 20:4-42 and his promise, wow!
    I asked God to direct me and I will follow. Where’s my promise? Why do I feel stuck?

    1. Shelby says:

      If you are going back and forth with Nursing.. maybe you should shadow a couple nurses to see if nursing and the different specialties to find your calling. I’m an ER/Trauma nurse in Detroit and it’s amazing, grant it very challenging and emotionally tugging.. but the hope of positively influencing maybe one patient out of the hundred or so I encounter daily is worth it. I too have been seeing waves regarding if I want to do something on the side of nursing with Christ (sharing His word or helping other women with struggles).

      Your promise will come and it slowly is tenderizing your heart. God will open doors and close doors. Be specific in your prayers. You may feel stuck because sometimes we don’t want to jump and make a big change because we ultimately are comfortable where we are. Shadow a nurse; call to a hospital/nursing home/school and ask to shadow a nurse on whichever floor you are intrigued by (Surgical ICU, Cardiac ICU, Neonatal ICU, Medical ICU, Neurology ICU, ER, Rehab, Med/Surg, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Neurology, etc). Take a small step/taste and see if it sparks that desire in you.

      Whichever you decide, you will do amazing!

    2. Sheryn says:

      I am currently in nursing school…my 2nd career after being a public safety dispatcher (answering 911) for over 19 years. I first became an LVN and after 4 years as an LVN, I am now back in school to finish my RN. Never once have I questioned that God wanted me to be here, since I have dreamed of being a doctor since I was 12. But life got in my way and it took me this long to get back into it. Additionally, the things I suffered in my past have allowed God to steer me into the path I am now on…the path of Forensic Nursing… so I can help victims of violence and abuse. I am excited to be able to serve others in this way! I am a single Mom so working and going to school is not easy – but God has helped me every step of the way and I absolutely know without a doubt that He wants me here. Email me if you wish, and we can support each other in this adventure!! [email protected]

    3. Kim Thomas says:

      I’m sure there will come a moment of peace when you will “know that you know” what you should do. Feeling stuck comes before moving out! Keep praying, talking with wise people, researching, and taking the next right step. By the way, I went back to seminary in my 50s…you can do this!!

  7. Karen From Virginia says:

    My heart is easily sad because of the season I am in (grieving the loss of my sister) and normally sensitive so I’m struck my the killing of the priests and their families as they wore the linen ephod. Because they stood with God, they were innocently killed. Then it makes me think of brothers and sisters in Christ today all over the world who are innocently killed, tortured, starved, kept from their community all because they acknowledge their Christian faith. I want to be found ready to be found faithful and compassionate towards those who are suffering for the Lord.

    1. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Karen, this is Abby from the SRT team. Just wanted to say we’re so sorry to hear about the loss of your sister. We will be praying for you and your family during this difficult season. We are so glad to have you in this community.

  8. Martha says:


  9. Tochi Heredia says:

    “They do not pause several hundred feet out to decide whether or not they should move forward.” Man, this hit close to home.
    I have always been indecisive, even as a child I went back and forth with everything no matter how small it was. This year has been a huge one for decision making and choosing sides.

    For instance, my extended family has been striked by pain and anger so me and my mom, the only Christians in our family, tried to remain neutral. Suffice to say, it totally backfired. More recently, I felt that I needed to be honest with my cousin and speak the truth in love, but this provoked that my cousin and I are not speaking anymore, and she is like a sister to me. I was instantly overcome by regret, worried I had made the wrong decision.
    But I’ve come to a conclusion: all these decisions that we’ve been making have been to glorify God and protect my aunt who’s suffering from the aftermath of a stroke. If God, in his great scheme of things, is using us to protect my aunt and pursue her heart, it’s all worth it. All the pain, loss, and rejection.

    I appreciate if you could pray for me, my mum Sylvia, and our family. I’m also facing decisions about my move to England, and I need wisdom to make the right ones.

    1. Laine says:

      Praying for you in all of this.

    2. She Reads Truth says:

      Hi Tochi, this is Abby from the SRT team. Thanks so much for sharing. We will definitely be praying for your family, and lifting you up in prayer as you make these difficult decisions. If you haven’t already, we would encourage you to seek out a spiritual leader or counselor in your community who you can speak to regarding these things. Praying for wisdom and community that can encourage you during this time! – Abby

      1. Tochi Heredia says:

        Thank you for the encouragement, Abby. I actually accepted to meet my pastor’s wife for coffee today :)

  10. Adrienne says:

    Asking for prayer for wise decisions. We have one grandchild that is 2 months old. We watch her two to four days a week. I am 70 with fibromyalgia and my husband is 72. He does most of the work around the house. Our granddaughter is going to a relatives house on my daughter in laws side on the days we aren’t caring for her. My heart is broken because it is an hour drive each way. Then she goes into a home with 5 children. Ages 4 months to 7 years old. I need to hear from God on what we should do. I can’t imagine taking care of 3 infants at a time.. Thank you for reading and praying. Sorry for writing so much. Love

    1. Tochi Heredia says:

      Prayerful over you, Adrienne. May the Lord bring clarity and provision for whatever decision you guys make.

      1. Adrienne says:

        Thank you

    2. Renee says:

      Praying for you

      1. Adrienne says:

        Thank you

    3. Karen From Virginia says:

      I’m praying. Heart breaking.

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

  12. 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.

    7. Audrey Flores says:

      Needed this thank you♥️♥️

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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