I Samuel 18:1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.

I Samuel 19:1 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.

2 But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself:

3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee.

4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good:

5 For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?

6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.

7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.

I Samuel 20:12 And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee;

13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father.

14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:

15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.

17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, 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 arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

I Samuel 23:16 And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.

17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.

18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.

MEMORY VERSE: How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.  —II Samuel 1:25-26

CENTRAL THOUGHT: David and Jonathan exemplified true, faithful friendship and all the elements we find in our friendship with Christ—covenant, steadfast devotion, intercession, self- forgetting service and loyalty.


Samuel 18:1 “Was knit”: was bound up; the same term was used to describe Jacob’s love for Benjamin (Genesis 44:30). “Knotted, tied together firmly by indissoluble bonds” (Pulpit Commentary). “As his own soul”: as himself, similarly to what Christ taught—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” “The friendship of David and Jonathan was the effect of Divine grace, which produces in true believers one heart and one soul, and causes them to love each other. This union of souls is from partaking in the Spirit of Christ. Where God unites hearts, carnal matters are too weak to separate them. Those who love Christ as their own souls, will be willing to join themselves to him in an everlasting covenant” (Matthew Henry Commentary).

I Samuel 18:3 “Made”: literally, cut; to make an alliance or bargain; originally, by cutting flesh and passing between the pieces. “Covenant”: treaty; alliance; league.

I Samuel 20:41 “Fell on his face”: as related by Josephus, “Did obeisance and called him the savior of his life.” Exceeded”: David wept more. “Was completely mastered by his
grief” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).


Jonathan, oldest son of King Saul, heard and observed David, youngest son of Jesse, speaking to his father concerning the victory God gave him over Goliath, champion of the Philistines. I Samuel 18 tells us that the soul of Jonathan felt an affinity with David, so that he loved him and made a covenant with him. As per common cultural elements of a covenant in that era,

Jonathan’s covenant included gifts of his royal garments and weapons.

From then on Jonathan pledged undying loyalty to David. Their mutual courage (Jonathan had just previously won his own victory over the Philistines) and zeal for Jehovah, His cause, and His law; and Jonathan’s acknowledgement that God had chosen David, and not himself to succeed Saul as Israel’s king, cemented them together in a bond stronger than that of biological brothers.

David desperately needed a divinely-appointed protector, and Jonathan became that protector. He reasoned and pleaded with his father to lay down his quarrel with David. Over and over he alerted David of his father’s rage and plans to take David’s life. David swore before God of his innocence of ambition to be king; he repeatedly refused opportunities to take Saul’s life. He constantly regarded as a sacred, personal code the admonition, “Touch not mine anointed.” In answer to Jonathan’s entreaty, David vowed to show everlasting kindness to Jonathan’s family, which promise he afterward kept when he sought out Jonathan’s crippled son, Mephibosheth, and made him part of his family and royal household. With great emotion, David made obeisance to Jonathan as they parted after Jonathan warned him of Saul’s intense anger.

Jonathan refused to be envious at David’s future ascendancy to the throne. In their first covenant, he gave David his weapons, symbolic of his recognition that the kingdom really belonged to David. At their last meeting, he acknowledged, “Thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee.”

Our memory verse includes a small portion of the emotional ode David wrote after Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle. In view of David’s lament in this passage, there are attempts by some religious writers to interpret the relationship between these two friends as romantic and sensual. They are ignoring the facts that both David and Jonathan were, first of all, believers in Jehovah, and adherents to His laws. In truth, the cause of Jehovah is what united their hearts in the first place. Since homosexual relationships were strictly forbidden by God, it is unthinkable that their relationship was of that nature. Also, their covenant of loyal friendship, with its lavish bestowal of gifts, was well within the customary practices of the times. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had all made similar allegiances and covenants with confederates in their day. David’s statement that Jonathan’s love to him was “wonderful, passing the love of women,” serves to establish that the nature of their love and mutual covenant was different from the relationships each had with women.

—Angela Gellenbeck


  1. By what action did Jonathan and David pledge their allegiance to each other?
  2. How did Jonathan show he was not envious of David?
  3. What was David’s promise in his covenants with Jonathan? Did he fulfill it in the future?
  4. How did Jonathan show he knew David’s future place as Israel’s king?
  5. Name the qualities in both David and Jonathan which made them devoted to each other.


A God-given friend is one of life’s greatest blessings. David’s friend, Jonathan, was in the unique place as protector, confidant, encourager, and source of wisdom, help and admonition to David in some of the most difficult years of his life. We can learn much from this godly, faithful man!

Jonathan’s offer of faithful friendship, made sure by a covenant, reminds us of Jesus’ vow of love for us, that He was laying down His life for us and would never leave us or forsake us. We too, in our vows of “eternal trueness” to our brothers/friends/fellows in the household of God, are to be willing to lay down our lives for one another. While we may not have to be killed in the place of a friend, we will have daily opportunities to show selfless love to others by giving up our time, helping do an unpleasant, repugnant task, protecting a brother or sister’s reputation, or supporting one another in fasting and praying.

Jonathan, motivated by his reverence to God and the knowledge of His will and order, gave up his hopes of personal honor and kingship and supported David. Jesus gave up the glories and honor of heaven to give us the privilege and honor of reigning with him. We give up earthly honor and fame to suffer with Him and His people. We yield our preferences, tastes, hopes and dreams to help others.

—Angela Gellenbeck


It was a sunny October day in Fresno, CA during the fall of 1988, and a shy eighth-grader, having attended private, Christian schools up to that point and struggling to adjust to public school life for the first time, was waiting for the school bus to arrive and head home. Standing under a tree—alone—and watching students and teachers pass by, he was startled when his Algebra teacher walked past and casually stated to him and another youth standing nearby and waiting for the same bus: “That’s nice, there are two Christians standing next to each other.” The young man thought to himself, “What? Did I hear that right? Another Christian?!?” Working up the nerve to approach the other boy, but too excited to pass up the opportunity, he cautiously asked, “Are you a Christian?” The other boy nodded, and a friendship was born.

As you might have guessed, I am the shy, young man in that story, and I later learned that our math teacher and my friend attended the same church, which was probably the impetus for his statement. Either way, Tim and I became good friends and were pretty much inseparable during our eighth and ninth grade school years. However, when I moved to Sacramento, CA in 1990 I feared that our friendship would end. I completed high school and began attending a university nearby, and was I surprised to learn just a couple of weeks into my freshman year that my old friend was attending there as well. He had looked me up by calling my parents, as he had remembered my mother’s very unique first name and there was obviously only one person with her name in the phone book! Our friendship was re-established, and as roommates our 2nd and 3rd years of college, we built a friendship to last a lifetime.

In many ways, I’ve often looked at our friendship similarly to that of David and Jonathan. We have similarities, but there are obvious differences, too. He’s very tall, I’m of average height. He’s white, I’m black. He’s the youngest of eight children, I’m the oldest of seven. The basis of his Christian faith is Calvinism while mine is Arminianism, and in college we had many lively debates over our differences! However, our mutual respect for each other’s walk with God, along with the understanding that we both know our friendship is God-given, has allowed us to overcome our differences and support each other during the most difficult times of our lives. His experiences with church persecution helped me when I went through similar experiences. We both supported each other in waiting to find the companion God had for us, and he served as the best man at my wedding a few years before I stood up for him at his. In all of our ups and downs in life, whether they be family illnesses and deaths, political, economical, or ecumenical upheaval, we’ve been able to strengthen our friendship and grow in maturity, too. We pray for each other, accept each other’s counsel and wisdom, and listen when the other has something that needs to be expressed. Truly, “no pow’r of earth or hell, withal, can rend us from each other.” In such a polarized world, it is a wonderful blessing to have such a friendship as this!

—Fari Matthews