1 Samuel 20:1-42

Jonathan helps David

1 Then David ran away from Naioth at Ramah. He went to Jonathan and he 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 that he is trying to kill you. He would not hide this from me.’

3 But David answered, ‘Your father knows that you like me very much. He has decided that he will not tell you. He does not want to make you upset. I promise that my words are true, as truly as the Lord lives and you live. I know that I am very near to death.’

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

5 David said to Jonathan, ‘Tomorrow we have a special meal because of the new moon. I should go and eat this meal with the king. Instead, let me go and hide in the field. I will stay there until the third evening. 6 Your father may see that I am not at the meal. If he does, say to him, “David asked me to let him go to his home in Bethlehem. His family offer a sacrifice there at this time every year.” 7 Your father may say, “That is good.” If he says that, I will know that I am safe. But if he becomes very angry, we will know that he has decided to hurt me. 8 Jonathan, please show that you love me. The Lord knows about the promise that you made, to be my friend. If I am guilty of a sin, please kill me yourself. Do not let your father kill me.’

20:5Numbers 10:10; 28:11-15 tell us about the special offerings at the time of the new moon.

9 Jonathan said, ‘No, that will never happen! If I ever find out that my father wants to kill you, I will surely tell you.’

10 David asked Jonathan, ‘If your father answers you in an angry way, who will tell me?’ 11 Jonathan said, ‘Come with me into the field.’ So they went there together.

12 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘I make this promise to you, and the Lord, Israel's God, knows that it is true. Tomorrow or the next day I will find out what my father is thinking about you. If he is feeling friendly to you, I will send someone to tell you. 13 But if my father wants to hurt you, I will tell you clearly. I ask the Lord to punish me, if I do not tell you. I will help you to escape and be safe. I pray that the Lord will bless you, as he blessed my father. 14 While I am still alive, please be kind to me. Continue to love me, as the Lord loves his people. And if I die, 15 continue to be kind to my family. Even when the Lord removes every one of your enemies from the earth, do not forget about my family.’

16 So Jonathan made an agreement with David's family. He said, ‘I am asking the Lord to destroy all David's enemies.’ 17 Jonathan asked David to promise again that they would be friends. That was because Jonathan loved David as much as he loved his own life.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Tomorrow we will have the special meal because of the new moon. Nobody will be sitting in your seat, so people will know that you are not there. 19 The day after tomorrow, go back to the place where you hid the other time. Wait beside the rock called Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows towards the rock to see where they go. 21 Then I will send a boy to find the arrows. If you are not in danger I will say to the boy, “The arrows are on this side of you. Come and bring them here.” That will mean that you are safe. You can then come out from the place where you are hiding. As surely as the Lord lives, I promise that you will not be in trouble. 22 But if I say to the boy, “Look, the arrows are beyond you,” you must run away. It will mean that the Lord has sent you away. 23 But never forget the promise that we have made to each other. The Lord will make sure that we are faithful to each other.’

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

20:26Because it was a special meal, the people who came to eat it must be clean.

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

30 Saul became very angry with Jonathan. He said, ‘You stupid man! I see that you have turned against me! You have become a friend of that son of Jesse. You have brought shame on yourself. Your mother should be ashamed that she gave birth to you! 31 You will never rule as king while that son of Jesse is still alive. Send men to go and bring him to me now. He must die!’

20:31King Saul speaks about David as ‘that son of Jesse’ because he does not want to say David's name. He hates David too much.

32 Jonathan said to his father, King Saul, ‘Why must David die? What wrong thing has he done?’

33 Then Saul threw his 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 special meal. He was very upset because his father had insulted David.

35 The next morning, Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. He took a young boy with him. 36 He said to the boy, ‘I will shoot some arrows. You must run and find them.’ While the boy was running, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 The boy ran to the place where the arrow had reached. Jonathan shouted to him, ‘I think that the arrow is beyond you.’ 38 Then he shouted, ‘Hurry now! Go quickly. Do not wait.’ The boy picked up the arrow and he brought it back to Jonathan. 39 (The boy did not understand what this meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows back to the boy. He said to the boy, ‘Go now and take these things back to the town.’

41 When the boy had left, David came out from beside the rock. He went down on his knees in front of Jonathan. He bent down on the ground three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other and they wept. David wept even more than Jonathan did.

42 Jonathan said to David, ‘Go now and God will keep you safe. We have promised each other in the Lord's name that we will always be friends. The Lord will watch us to make sure that we always keep this promise. He will watch our descendants too, for ever.’

Then David left. Jonathan returned to the town.