He had everything to lose. Everything.
As Saul’s son, Jonathan was the presumed heir to the throne in Israel’s newly-founded monarchy. The title. The throne. The crown. The power and prestige. The responsibility. The joy. All would be his.
But that’s not quite the way things worked out.
Saul’s heart turned from the Lord, so the prophet Samuel was sent to anoint the next king (1 Samuel 15). And he didn’t go looking in Saul’s household. Instead, a shepherd named David had the office conferred upon him. But years passed between David’s anointing and Saul’s death. Saul’s jealousy of David flared hot.
His jealousy of a threat to his throne makes sense. But what’s most interesting to me is who wasn’t jealous: Saul’s son, and David’s best friend, Jonathan.
Saul made repeated attempts on David’s life over the years. But Jonathan’s friendship toward David was unwavering. One man’s divine appointment was the other’s earthly loss. I marvel at the relationship of these two men. I crave such friendship.
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
— 1 Samuel 18:3 ESV
1 Samuel 20 later records an instance of Jonathan’s protection of David when Saul sought his life. Another man might have betrayed David’s confidence and claimed the throne for himself.
What would you have done?
Maybe the better question is “What do you usually do?” After all, aren’t we faced with analogous choices almost daily?
- Do you passively undermine a co-worker’s (or boss’s) success by turning work in late or sloppy?
- Do you simply remain quiet when faced with an opportunity to recommend someone for an opportunity?
- Do you defame another in gossip, thereby gaining socially from his/her loss of good reputation?
We do it all too often, friends.
We need to be more like Jonathan.
I think it was Jonathan’s faith in God that liberated him from jealousy. He wanted what God wanted for Israel. And for David. Even if it was his own loss.
But how? From where did Jonathan draw this fortitude?
The scriptures record a deep mutual affection. But I think it’s more than that. (After all, our emotions are fickle!) I suspect Jonathan knew how much he, himself, was loved by God.
When we have a deep and abiding sense of our preciousness in God’s eyes–and a firm trust in the goodness of His plans for us–we are free to love others wholeheartedly and without concern for whether their gains come at our (perceived or real) expense. We’ll be able to labor in a way that promotes the success of others. We’ll seek to bring them good not harm. And we will love them well, in both thought and deed.
Without security in how much God loves us, we simply cannot love others as He intends.
When has someone shown this kind of love to you?