We first meet Jonathan when his father, Saul, becomes the first king of Israel.
Saul had reigned three years, when the Philistines became overbearing and impossible to stay at peace with.
So Saul called out three thousand men to be soldiers…..two thousand were with Saul, and one thousand was with Jonathan (1 Samuel 13:1-4).
Jonathan was a brave man, and one which believed in God.
He had a battle with the Philistines over a fort….and won. (Saul took the credit, but Jonathan was content in the victory, whoever got the credit.)
When the Philistines heard of this loss on their part, they gathered together to fight Israel, and it’s new king.
This was terrifying to Israel…..and many in the army deserted.
But again, Jonathan was the one who stepped up and gave a victory.
1 Samuel 14:6 “And Jonathan said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.”
Notice Jonathan’s faith……it was an active one…..it did not just speak of God, but acted upon what he believed….
….and this encouraged others.
1 Samuel 14:7, 13, 15 “And his armor-bearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.
And Jonathan climbed up….and his armor-bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; ad his armor-bearer slew after him.
And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling.”
The Lord honored Jonathan’s faith, and gave a victory over the enemy, in those that kept guard……and even down into the field of Philistines.
The Lord sent an earthquake to terrify the enemy, as well.
But Saul hindered the battle with the Philistines by making everyone swear not to eat! Or be put to death!
(When people fast for God’s good, the Lord blesses it…..but fasting just to twist God’s arm, so to speak, is worth nothing…..even hinders…as here)
But Jonathan was not there when the order was given. (1 Samuel 14:24-27)…and ate some wild honey he found in the field.
When Saul found out….he was going to kill Jonathan…..but the Israelites stepped in and stopped it.
Saul’s love of admiration became his downfall….and when he refused to obey God’s command….
….and let the people take spoils of war that were not to be saved….he lost his kingship.
(although it would be years before God took it from him….so much time to repent….but he died, as he lived without God.)
Jonathan was there when Goliath came and dared Israel to fight him…..and when David did just that,…..
Jonathan recognized a David’s courage was in the Lord…..
…and loved him for it. (1 Samuel 18:3)
They were fast friends and Jonathan defended David when Saul became jealous and angry over the people’s love of David. (1 Samuel 18:8-9)
…..reminding Saul of David’s loyalty to God and him….in battle and in life.
1 Samuel 18:14 “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.”
This is what Jonathan loved about David…..his love and devotion to God….and his courage because of it.
Several years passed, where Jonathan and David worked together…..for God and Israel.
Yet Saul’s jealousy raged….till he wanted to kill David.
Jonathan came between Saul’s murderous thoughts and David, several times…..always siding with David…..because he knew the Lord delighted in David.
1 Samuel 19:4,6 “And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant…..
And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not die.”
Notice that Jonathan was concerned lest the king….sin.
As I said, Jonathan was a believer in God.
Jonathan stood, so far, with the Lord and David.
But there was a day, when Jonathan had to choose between God and David, in hiding…..and Saul, in the palace, with his men.
1 Samuel 20:42 “And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, (not: I will go with you), forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.
And he (David) arose and departed; and Jonathan went into the city.”
What a difference in their direction!
The outcast David….and the son Jonathan….
….one to caves and hiding…..the other “to the city”.
I want to mention here, that it was not the throne that came between Jonathan and God…..but time and circumstances.
Jonathan did not care that David was to be king…..he would be at his right hand as he had been with his father.
It was not praise that he sought.
But the circumstances of Jonathan’s life were what stopped him.
Jonathan had a wife, but David did too….and had to leave her.
Jonathan felt an obligation to his father,…..but did not seek God’s Will concerning it…..
….he just felt that a short time would pass, and God would remove Saul….and put David on the throne…..and David would remember their covenant….and all would be well.
But it would be years….two or three years….before that happened!
And though Jonathan never entered into any chasing of David…..he never joined him and put the weight of his status with him.
This is called settling for second best…..leaning on our own understanding…..being double-minded.
(In Psalms 12:2 it is called “double-heart”)
This is what Jonathan should have done…..and so should we, for we are all warned of this:
James 4:7-8 “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, yet double minded.”
How could this happen to such a brave, and God fearing person, as Jonathan?
Time and circumstance.
When we expect things to happen in a certain time…..and they don’t
When the days roll by and we just stay in our habits…..without diligently seeking God’s Will….and Way of bringing that Will to pass.
(Perhaps he thought he could change Saul’s mind….how many times we have good reasons for doing the wrong thing!)
And how many times do these put hinderances between us and God’s Will, for us?
Jonathan should have left the palace…..taking his family to safety and followed David.
How much sooner would the kingdom have come to David…..because the king’s son had decided for God’s Way.
Yet Jonathan did not…..choosing to stay with his father…..and he died following him into an impossible battle:
Saul had brought his army into a valley…..surrounded by Philistines in the hills around! The army tried to flee up into mount Gilboa…..but were slaughtered.
What kind of leader brings his men under the enemy?
But Jonathan was there…..and fought bravely…..but died.
1 Samuel 31:3 “And the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons; and the Philistines slew Jonathan, and Abinadab, and Malachi-Shula, Saul’s sons.”
(David kept his covenant with Jonathan….and took his son into the palace with him, when he was king of Israel. 2 Samuel 9:1, 6-7, 13)
God’s Will leads us in varied and often hazardous places.
As one writer, years ago said…..”we are not called to beds of ease….but to the battlefield of life…..wherever that takes us.”
Let us keep our armor on…..and know the Lord’s Will…..and Stand with Him….wherever that takes us.