1 Samuel 18-20, Psalm 11, Psalm 59: David and Jonathan

At this point in the chronological reading, things start to get interesting. We being to read the psalms along with 1 Samuel and soon we will begin to see the shape of the Old Testament in its historical order.

Of all that I read this morning, as you can see from the various texts above, I feel compelled to comment on David and Jonathan. I grew up loving the story of David and Jonathan. They were best friends even though Saul, Jonathan’s father, was trying to kill David. And when you remember that Jonathan would be heir to the throne if not for David, the friendship moves to an even deeper level.

Recently, there has been a push to ascribe a homosexual relationship to these two men of God. This has even shown up in hollywood on the show Kings, a fictional, and modern retelling of the life of David. In the show, the Jonathan character, who’s name is Jack, is a closet homosexual.

For any Western thinker who has read 1 Samuel 18-20 for the first time in the last 20 years, I can see how they might make this sort of inference. 3 times it says that Jonathan loved David like he loved his own soul (18:1, 18:3, 20:17). They kissed and wept together (20:41). These are not things that men in our society do, unless they are related, or they are homosexual.

But there is a serious problem that undergirds this assumption. And the problem is that assuming that David and Jonathan are gay places our own current western understanding of a male relationship into the text. Our culture is not the same as the culture of Israel in 1000 bc. It is not even the same as the culture of Israel in 2011, so we can’t assume that their relationship was the same.

Reading the Bible in this way is called eisegesis, which simply means, putting your own ideas into the text. What we want to strive for exegesis, which is discovering what the Bible actually says.

So, in the case of Jonathan and David, we could say that one thing we learn from them is that good, solid godly friendships are important, especially among men. They provide accountability, support, love, companionship, and mutual encouragement in faith. This is the relationship that they had and it is one worth emulating.

This relationship is especially important when we consider what Jesus says to His disciples:

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Jesus calls us his friends, and the evidence of that friendship is that He died for us, because He loves us. The friendship of Jonathan and David, arguably the greatest friendship in the Bible, gives us a glimpse of the type of love that Jesus extended to us when He made us His friends through the cross. That love is sacrificial and undyingly faithful.

So we rejoice in the friendship of David and Jonathan because it serves as an example of the types of friendships we should build with other believers, and it points us toward the self-sacrificing friendship of Jesus Christ, who gave up everything so that we might inherit everything in Him.

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