His name means: "Yahweh Has Given"
His work: The firstborn son of King Saul, Jonathan was a capable warrior and military strategist.
His character: Jonathan demonstrated remarkable capabilities for friendship, selflessness, and loyalty.
His sorrow: Although the rightful heir to the throne of Israel, Jonathan never became king. He also had to deal with the mental and emotional pathology of his father, King Saul.
Key Scriptures: 1 Samuel 14; 19; 20
A Look at the Man
By his own foolishness, Saul put his children in impossible situations.
His youngest daughter, Michal, was married to David, a man Saul openly hated. And his son, Jonathan, was David's closest friend.
Because of her father's unrestrained jealousy, Michal was forced to lower David from an open window to protect him from Saul. And Saul's irrational rage against David forced Jonathan to take sides against his father, the king of Israel.
As their friendship unfolded, we can assume that David confided in Jonathan about his anointing to be the next king of Israel. He would have told Jonathan about the prophet Samuel's visit to his father's home in search of Saul's replacement. Imagine the two-pronged disappointment that would have devastated a smaller man than Jonathan. First, he would have been greatly displeased with the news of the Lord's message to Samuel about his father. "I have rejected Saul as king over Israel." Second, it would mean that he, the oldest son of the king, was not going to be the successor to the throne.
There is no record of Jonathan being devastated with this news. Because he trusted God, he knew that Samuel never would have anointed David as the heir to his father's throne if he hadn't been divinely appointed.
The account of Jonathan is the story of loyalty at many levels. First, he was loyal to his father. At no point did Jonathan complain to David that his father was a deranged madman. In the midst of terrible conflict, Jonathan was steadfast in his respect for his father, even dying with him in battle.
Second, Jonathan was loyal to David. He had legitimate reasons to envy the successor to his father's throne, but he loved him instead. Like David, he was a capable leader and victorious warrior. But he refused to set himself against David, even though his father did everything he could to push him in that direction.
Finally, Jonathan was loyal to the living God. Even though he could have complained that his father's actions spoiled his own future, he trusted God's sovereignty. Whether through verbal confrontations with his father or delivering bad news to his friend, Jonathan was a man of impeccable integrity.
Some people imagine David's friend Jonathan as a milquetoast wimp looking to find esteem through his friendship with a man much greater than he. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jonathan was a strong man, a mighty soldier, and a successful leader. And it is from this position of influence that Jonathan introduces us to the greater power of loyalty.
Reflect On: 1 Samuel 20:11–17
Praise God: For blessing our loved ones through us.
Offer Thanks: For God’s faithfulness from generation to generation.
Confess: Any failure to believe that God intends to use you to extend his blessings to the next generation.
Ask God: To make you the kind of person whose righteousness blesses others.
Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.
At no point did Jonathan complain to David that his father was a deranged madman...