Monday, August 20, 2007

David and Jonathan

I'm still working my way through Dale Ralph Davis's excellent series of books on Joshua - 2 Kings. I've rationed myself to one chapter per day so that I actually get space to think about stuff. Often he'll just put a paragraph in on an idea, and actually someone could take that idea and spin it off and write a book about it or something. This is, I think, one of those ideas.

The friendship between David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel is a remarkable one. Jonathan is the heroic and godly heir to the throne - his father Saul is king. But Saul is a bad king - largely because (unlike Jonathan) he never really got the idea of trusting God. So God has said that Saul's family will lose the kingship, and it will pass instead to David. Not surprisingly, Saul doesn't like the idea and spends a lot of his time trying to get rid of David.

Jonathan, then, is in an interesting position. On one hand, he is eminently suitable for the kingship. He is the eldest son of the king; he has just the sort of character one would want in a king. But David is God's anointed (which is the key idea in Samuel). How will Jonathan respond? Will he seek to be king himself, or will he submit himself to God's anointed king at the cost of being king himself?

In a lot of ways, this is a similar situation to ours. We might well appear to be capable of running our own lives. We might even be good at it. We have, it seems, every right to be king. But God has said that we cannot be the rightful kings of our own lives. We need to submit to another - to God's anointed - to Jesus.

We see this clearly in 1 Samuel 20, which is where it all comes to a head.

Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse [i.e. David] to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!"
1 Samuel 20:30-31, NIV

Saul is desperate to keep the kingship. He ends up losing it and his life. Jonathan is willing to give up his kingship to David, and after he dies, his disabled son ends up eating at the king's table.

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