1 Samuel 20:18–26
Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. And when you have stayed three days, go down quickly and come to the place where you hid on the day of the deed; and remain by the stone Ezel. Then I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target; and there I will send a lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I expressly say to the lad, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; get them and come’—then, as the LORD lives, there is safety for you and no harm. But if I say thus to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you’—go your way, for the LORD has sent you away. And as for the matter which you and I have spoken of, indeed the LORD be between you and me forever.”
Then David hid in the field. And when the New Moon had come, the king sat down to eat the feast. Now the king sat on his seat, as at other times, on a seat by the wall. And Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, but David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him; he is unclean, surely he is unclean.”
Jonathan doesn’t want to believe that his father now wants to kill David. Saul swore an oath against that.
So Saul heeded the voice of Jonathan, and Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be killed.” — 1 Samuel 19:6).
Nevertheless, Jonathan takes David’s claim seriously and devises an elaborate plan to protect David while he sorts through what’s going on. That’s good, but what’s up with the arrows? Why can’t Jonathan just talk to David later? Why does he set up a bizarre code to communicate the results?
Jonathan realizes that David might be right. That leads to a disturbing chain of deductions. If David is right, then Saul hasn’t been telling everything to Jonathan; he’s been keeping secrets. Thus, Saul’s next move could be anything, and it’s likely to be deceptive. Having Jonathan followed is a real possibility, especially if Saul gets upset over Jonathan’s excuse for why David isn’t at the feast.
All trust between Jonathan and Saul has been lost.
Imagine how painful this is for Jonathan. His father is being unreasonable and, now, untrustworthy.
Everything used to be pretty awesome. First his dad gets anointed king. Then this huge, horrible enemy is knocked off by David. Next David marries his sister. Then Jonathan and David become best friends.
But then, bolt out of the blue, Jonathan’s father goes nuts and wants to kill David. Fortunately, Jonathan talks him out of it and Saul pledges that David shall live. For a moment, it looks like the dream is alive.
But no. It was all a lie. Worse, it looks like Saul doesn’t trust Jonathan—and, of course, Jonathan can’t trust Saul either.
The family is divided. That hurts.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.