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The exceptions when they're okay.

1 Samuel 20:1–8

Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and went and said to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”

So Jonathan said to him, “By no means! You shall not die! Indeed, my father will do nothing either great or small without first telling me. And why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!”

Then David took an oath again, and said, “Your father certainly knows that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”

So Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.”

And David said to Jonathan, “Indeed tomorrow is the New Moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king to eat. But let me go, that I may hide in the field until the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission of me that he might run over to Bethlehem, his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’ If he says thus: ‘It is well,’ your servant will be safe. But if he is very angry, be sure that evil is determined by him. Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. Nevertheless, if there is iniquity in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?”

David flees to Jonathan and asks for help figuring out why Saul is trying to kill him. But Jonathan knows even less than he does and denies that it’s even true. “It is not so!”

But it is true, and David takes an oath about it. Then he explains that Saul would keep this a secret from Jonathan because he knows of their friendship. Jonathan, undoubtedly in shock, is no help trying to solve the puzzle of what’s up with his dad. So, he just caves and says, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.”

Then David devises a scheme to discern Saul’s heart. He will miss the new moon feast and Jonathan will give an excuse to Saul as to why David’s not at the dinner table.

Saul’s reaction will tell Jonathan everything he needs to know.

The plan is for Jonathan to lie to his father. Is that okay?

Well, there are two more cases that raise the same issue: the Hebrew midwives lying about their failure to kill the male Hebrew newborns (in Exodus 1:15–21) and Rahab lying to the messengers from the king of Jericho (in Joshua 2:3–7).

Notice that all three cases involve life or death issues. The Hebrew midwives lied so they could keep the sixth commandment. Jonathan is keeping Saul from breaking it. The spies were following God’s orders.

It seems that, in the rare cases when they conflict, the sixth commandment takes priority over the ninth.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday ones are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to the DEEP click here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, can be downloaded here:

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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