1 Samuel 20

Jonathan helps David

1 Then David ran away from Naioth at Ramah. He went to Jonathan and asked him, ‘What bad things have I done? What have I done to hurt your father? Why is he trying to kill me?’

2 Jonathan replied, ‘No. You will not die. My father tells me everything that he does, even the little things. So it is not true! He would not hide this from me.’

3 But David answered, ‘Your father knows that you like me. He decided not to tell you. He knew that you would not be very happy. I promise that my words are true. I think that I will soon be dead.’

4 Jonathan said to David, ‘I will do anything that you want me to do.’

5 David said to Jonathan, ‘Tomorrow we have a special meal because of the new moon. I ought to go and eat this meal with the king. Instead, I will go and hide in the fields. I will stay there until the third evening. 6 Your father might see that I am not at the meal. If he does, you say, “David asked me to let him go to his home in Bethlehem. His father and brothers offer a sacrifice at this time every year.” 7 Your father may say, “That is good.” If he says that, I am safe. And I will know that I am safe. But he may become very angry. If he does become angry, he has decided to hurt me. And you will know that he wants to do that. 8 Jonathan, please be a good friend and be kind to me, your servant. The Lord knows about the covenant that you made with me. If I have sinned, you can kill me yourself. Do not let your father kill me.’

20:8Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15 tell us about the special offerings at the time of the new moon.

9 Jonathan said, ‘No, that will not happen. I will find out if my father wants to kill you. If he does, I will tell you.’

10 David said, ‘If your father gets angry tomorrow, how will you tell me?’

11 Jonathan said, ‘We should go out into the fields.’ So they went there together.

12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I say this promise to you and to the Lord, the God of Israel. Tomorrow or the next day I will find out how my father is feeling. If he is feeling friendly to you, I will send someone to tell you. 13 But my father may want to hurt you. I promise the Lord that I will let you know about it. Then I will send you away so that you can be safe. I pray that the Lord will be with you. I want him to be with you as he has been with my father. 14 The Lord is kind to me. Please be kind to me too while I am alive. Do not let me die. 15 The Lord will remove every one of your enemies from the earth. But please continue to be kind to all my family.’

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with David's family. He said, ‘I am asking the Lord to punish David's enemies for what they have done.’ 17 Again, Jonathan asked David to say that he loved him. Jonathan loved David as much as Jonathan loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow we will have the special meal because of the new moon. Nobody will be sitting in your chair. People will see that you are not there. 19 Return to the place where you hid at the beginning of this trouble. Go there on the day after tomorrow. Wait by the rock called Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows by the side of it. I will say that I am shooting at a certain mark. 21 Then I will send a boy to find the arrows. If you are not in danger I will say to him, “The arrows are near to you. Bring them here.” That will mean that you are safe. You can come out from the place where you are hiding. 22 But I may say to the boy, “Look, the arrows are beyond you.” That will mean that you must go. The Lord has sent you away. 23 Always remember the covenant that we made. The Lord will make sure that we keep this promise.’

24 So David hid in the field. Then it was time for the special meal because of the new moon. The king sat down to eat the meal. 25 He sat by the wall in his usual place. Jonathan sat with his face towards him. Abner sat next to Saul. David's seat was empty. 26 Saul did not say anything about it that day. Saul thought, ‘Perhaps something has happened to David that has made him not clean. I am sure that he is not clean.’ 27 The next day was the second day of the month. David's seat was still empty at the meal. So Saul said to his son Jonathan, ‘Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal? He did not come yesterday or today.’

20:25Saul ‘sat by the wall’. The king always sat in the most important place.

28 Jonathan answered, ‘David asked me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, “Let me go. My family is having a sacrifice in the town. My brother told me that I must be there. If you are my friend let me go to visit my brothers.” That is why David has not come to eat with the king.’

30 Saul became very angry with Jonathan. Saul said, ‘You have done a very bad thing and you do not obey me. I know that you are David's friend. You have made your mother ashamed. You should be ashamed yourself. 31 You will never be king while David is alive. You will never rule the people. Go and bring David to me now. He must die.’

32 Jonathan said, ‘Why must David die? What has he done that is wrong?’ 33 But Saul threw a spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. So, Jonathan knew that his father had decided to kill David. 34 Jonathan was very angry. He got up from the table. He did not eat anything on that second day of the month. He was very sad because Saul had not given honour to David.

35 In the morning, Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. Jonathan took a young boy with him. 36 He said to the boy, ‘Run. And find the arrows that I shoot.’ While the boy was running, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 The boy reached the place where the arrow landed. Jonathan shouted to him, ‘The arrow is beyond you.’ 38 Then he shouted, ‘Hurry up. Go quickly. Do not stop.’ The boy picked up the arrow and he brought it back to Jonathan. 39 (The boy did not know what this meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows back to the boy and Jonathan said, ‘Go and take them back to town.’

41 So the boy left. David came out from the south side of the rock. He went down on his knees in front of Jonathan. He put his face down on the ground three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other and they cried together. But David cried more than Jonathan did.

42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go and God will keep you safe. We promised the Lord that we would always be friends. The Lord will make sure that my family and your family will always keep this promise.’ Then David left. And Jonathan returned to the town.