The Children's Bible
Jonathan's Love For David
hen David went and found Jonathan and said, "What have I done? What is my guilt, and what is my sin in the mind of your father, that he is seeking my life?" Jonathan replied, "No, no! You shall not die. You know that my father does nothing great or small that he does not tell me, and why should my father hide this from me? He surely will not." David answered, "Your father well knows that you are fond of me, and he is saying to himself, 'Do not let Jonathan know this that he may not be grieved.' But as surely as Jehovah lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death."
Then Jonathan said to David, "What do you wish me to do for you?" David answered, "To-morrow is the festival of the New Moon and I ought to sit at the table with Saul, but let me go and I will hide myself in the field until evening. If your father misses me, then say, 'David asked permission of me to run to Bethlehem, his native town, for the yearly sacrifice is there for all his family.' If he says, 'Good,' then it is well with your servant; but if he gets angry, then you will know that he is planning to harm me. Now show kindness to your servant, for in the presence of Jehovah you have made a solemn agreement with your servant. But if I am at all guilty, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?" Jonathan said, "That shall never be! If I learn that my father is planning to do you harm, I will tell you."
Then David said to Jonathan, "Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?" Jonathan answered, "Jehovah the God of Israel be witness that about this time to-morrow I will find out how my father feels. If he feels kindly toward you, then I will send and tell you. Should my father wish to do you harm, God do to Jonathan whatever he will and more too if I do not tell you and send you away that you may go in peace. May Jehovah be with you, as he has been with my father. And if I am yet alive, O may you show me kindness like that of Jehovah himself! But if I should die, you must never cease to be kind to my family. And if, when Jehovah destroys all the enemies of David from the face of the earth, the family of Jonathan should be destroyed by the family of David, may Jehovah punish the crime by the hand of David's enemies." So Jonathan renewed his solemn promise to David, because he loved him; for he loved him as much as he loved his own life.
Then Jonathan said to him, "To-morrow is the festival of the New Moon and you will be missed, for your seat will be empty. On the third day, when you will be greatly missed, go to the place where you hid yourself when my father attacked you, and sit down beside the heap of stones. I will shoot three arrows on one side of it, as though I shot at a mark. Then I will send the boy, saying, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I call to the boy, 'See, the arrows are on this side of you; pick them up!'--then come; for all goes well with you, and as surely as Jehovah lives, there is nothing to fear. But if I call to the boy, 'See, the arrows are beyond you,' then go, for Jehovah sends you away. And as for the promises which you and I have made, Jehovah is witness between you and me forever."
So David hid himself in the field; and when the festival of the New Moon came, Saul sat down at the table to eat. He sat on his seat, as usual, by the wall, and Jonathan sat opposite, and Abner sat beside Saul; but David's seat was empty. Saul, however, did not say anything that day, for he thought, "It is an accident."
But on the next day when David's place was again empty, Saul said to Jonathan, "Why has not the son of Jesse come to the table, either yesterday or to-day?" Jonathan answered, "David asked permission to go to Bethlehem, for he said, 'Let me go, for we have a family sacrifice in the town, and my brother has commanded me to be there. Now if you approve, let me go away that I may see my family.' Therefore, he has not come to your table."
Then Saul's anger was aroused against Jonathan, and he said to him, "Son of a rebellious slave girl! Do I not know that you are making the son of Jesse your friend to your own shame and to your mother's shame? For as long as the son of Jesse lives, neither you nor your rule will be safe. Therefore, send now and bring him to me, for he is doomed to die."
Then Jonathan answered Saul his father and said, "Why should he be put to death? What has he done?" But Saul flung his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father had made up his mind to put David to death. And Jonathan rose from the table in hot anger and ate no food on the second day of the month, for he felt hurt because his father had insulted David.
The next morning Jonathan went out into the field to the place agreed upon with David, and a small boy was with him. He said to his boy, "Run, find now the arrows which I shoot." As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy came to the place where the arrow which Jonathan had shot lay, Jonathan called to him, "Is not the arrow beyond you? Hurry, be quick, do not stop!" So Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and brought them to his master. But the boy knew nothing about the signal. Only Jonathan and David understood.