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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 20

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-42

Chapter 20

Now David fled from Naioth in Ramah, he came to Jonathan, he said, What have I done? what is my iniquity? what is my sin that your father is seeking my life? And Jonathan said to him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but he'll shew it to me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? is it not so ( 1 Samuel 20:1-2 ).

David said, "Your father's trying to kill me." Jonathan says, "Ah, he's not really trying to kill you, he wouldn't do anything unless he told me first, and he hasn't said anything about it."

And David sware moreover, and said, Your father certainly knows that you and I are good friends; and so he said, Don't let Jonathan know this, lest he is grieved: but truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death ( 1 Samuel 20:3 ).

David just said, "Man, I'm living on the border of eternity. There's just a step between me and death. Your dad's after me and he's trying to kill me."

Then Jonathan said to David, Whatever you want, I'll do. And David said to Jonathan, Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I'm supposed to be sitting there at your father's feast: and I'm not gonna show up. [I want you to pick up on your dad's attitude when I don't show up.] If he says, Where's David? Just tell him, Well his family is having an annual get together in Bethlehem. [And David pleaded with me that he might go and spend this annual family affair with his family. So he didn't come. Just notice what your dad's attitude is when I don't show up, because he's really planning to kill me when I come and sit there at the table. So Jonathan was a little skeptical, but he said, Okay, we'll let you know.] But he said, What we'll do is you wait out here behind this rock, and I'll come out with my servant when I really find out what my dad's feelings are. I'll come out with my servant, and I will shoot my arrows and send him out after them; and if I call to him, and I say, The arrows are this side of you, then they've fallen short, then you'll know that it's okay, my dad is in a good mood, and he doesn't really have any intentions of killing you. But if I say to the young fellow, The arrows have gone beyond you, then you'll know it's time to flee because my dad is angry and is thinking about killing you. So Saul, the new moon, [the feast of the king,] and Abner his captain was there, Jonathan's place was there, but David's place was empty. And Saul didn't say anything the first day: he thought, Well he probably isn't ceremonially clean, [maybe he's killed somebody, has blood on his hands, go through the cleansing rites before he comes, he'll be here tomorrow.] So the next day when David's chair was empty too: he said to Jonathan, Where's David? Jonathan said, Well his family's having an annual get together it's a family gathering, and David pleaded with me that he might go, and spend this celebration with the family in Bethlehem. And Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, Thou son of the perverse woman, don't I know that you've chosen the son of Jesse to your own confusion, and to the confusion of your mother's nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse is living, you're not gonna become king after me, he's gonna have the kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die ( 1 Samuel 20:4-31 ).

So Saul of course gave forth now his true feelings. Jonathan saw what was in his dad's heart.

And Jonathan said, Why should he be slain? what evil has he done? And Saul cast his javelin at Jonathan: [You know the guy was just enraged, and so just because his son dared to ask a question, "Why should you kill him, what has he done wrong?" Saul let fly with the javelin towards his son Jonathan.] and so he knew that he had determined to kill David. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, [He was really upset with his dad.] he did not eat meat on the second day of the month: and he was grieved for David, because his father had done him this shame. So it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out in the field at the time appointed with David, and a little fellow was with him. [The little boy that chases arrows.] And he said to the lad, Run, out to the field and find the arrows which I shoot. And so as the lad ran, he shot the arrows beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond you? So Jonathan said, Hurry and gather together all of the arrows. And so the fellow gathered together all of the arrows, and he brought them back to Jonathan. So Jonathan gave him all of his artillery, and said, Take it back to town. And after the little boy left, then David came out from behind the rock where he was hiding, and he bowed himself: they kissed each other, they wept with one another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of Jehovah, saying, The Jehovah be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And they arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city ( 1 Samuel 20:33-42 ).

Now Jonathan and David had made a bond. Jonathan had realized that somehow God was gonna give the kingdom to David, and he said, "I just want you to treat my family well when you come into the kingdom, and all of my descendants. Let there be a bond between us." And David made an oath to Jonathan that he would treat the house of Saul with respect and kindness, and love. "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 20". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-samuel-20.html. 2014.
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