Opening Prayer

Loving Father, I thank you today for my new life in Christ, and for the love that gave it.

Read 1 SAMUEL 20:24-42

24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan,[a] and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.” 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 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 to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.[b]

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  1. 1 Samuel 20:25 Septuagint; Hebrew wall. Jonathan arose
  2. 1 Samuel 20:42 In Hebrew texts this sentence (20:42b) is numbered 21:1.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters … [they] cannot be my disciple.’1

Think Further

As we continue the story, a new angle of Jonathan’s costly commitment to God’s will is revealed, namely the conflict with his father. The clash of loyalties is heightened by the narrator calling Jonathan Saul’s son (v 27) and Saul Jonathan’s father (vs 32,33,34). Although Saul’s quarrel is with David, he takes it out on his son. The king’s contemptuous speech (v 30) is not intended as an accurate description of Jonathan’s mother but a way of distancing Saul from his son.

Children were meant to honor their parents and parents expected their offspring’s loyalty. Failure in this regard brought shame on the family, the force of which would feel like the humiliation of being exposed naked.2 Saul’s language is deliberately crude, making the attack even more painful. It is ironic that in his violent temper he intends to spear the very son he wants to see as king (v 33). Despite Saul’s attack on him, Jonathan walks a fine line between loyalty to his father and his friend. While he leaves the feast in anger and once again affirms his commitment to David when they part (v 42), he will remain with his father until he dies with him on the battlefield in the fight against the Philistines.3

Obeying God in opposition to family is heart-wrenching, yet Jesus’ call is clear. A girl in my church was thrown out of her home by her father because she would not give up going to church. Another friend faced antagonism from her parents, who belittled her academic abilities when she gave up her well-paid job to study at Bible college. When our Christian convictions clash with the world’s standards, whether the question is whom we marry, on what we spend our money, or what career we follow, we may face unjust accusations, emotional blackmail or scorn.


Lord, give us the strength to follow you when those we love oppose the path you have for us.

Closing prayer

Yes Lord, I need your strength to follow you always. Infuse me with that strength and enable me to always put you first.

Luke 14:26 The Hebrew of v 30 reads ‘to the shame of your mother’s nakedness’, which the NIV softens 1 Sam 31:2

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Last Updated on November 2, 2022 by kingstar

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