Rather than write a short, stand-alone article, I intend to write a series of articles which explore the relationship between David, of David and Goliath fame, and Jonathan, the son of King Saul.
Many who have written of David and Jonathan’s relationship (scholars and non-scholars alike) have read into the biblical story their own cultural proclivities and biases. That helps no one. As a lawyer and past litigator, I was trained to put my personal views in a box and delve into each new case afresh. I want to do that with you, the reader. I do not, however, want to bog you down in references, bibliographies, footnotes and/or endnotes. I would like instead to strike a more conversational tone. On this subject, like so many in modern society, we need to talk respectfully with one another.
For those possible nerds like myself who do like to follow the rabbit hole of citations and scholarly articles, I refer you to Bruce L. Gerig’s 2012 work entitled “Jonathan and David: A Love Story and Survey of Commentary Interpretations, Textual Evidence, and Historical Background.” Gerig’s work is thorough, balanced, and well-sourced in each chapter. I will rely extensively on Gerig’s handiwork.
In this series we will get to know both David and Jonathan a little better by reviewing at least four biblical passages. They are:
- “When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:1-4)(New Revised Standard Version);
- “As soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. He bowed three times, and they kissed each other, and wept with each other; David wept the more. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants, forever” (1 Samuel 20:40-42);
- “Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan. He said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? (1 Samuel 20:30); and
- “Jonathan lies slain upon your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women” (2 Samuel 1:25b-27).
By The Rev. Mark Andrew Jones, BSG
St. Nicholas Episcopal Church