“And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, and David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean. And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to-day? And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem:…Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.” (1 Samuel 20:25-28, 30-33)
King Saul was told by the prophet Samuel that because of his sin, he was through being the king. However, Saul wouldn’t give up the kingdom. He rebelled against God, and as a result, was miserable. By the way, if you rebel against God, you’re going to be miserable, too. David had been anointed king, killed Goliath, and became a national hero. But Saul thought David wanted to usurp the kingdom which made him want to kill David so he kept a javelin handy. He tried to kill David with it at least twice. Jonathan convinced Saul once not to kill David and didn’t think he’d try it again. Yet David suspected that Saul wouldn’t tell Jonathan his true plans. Jonathan was caught between love for God, friendship with David, and a desire to do right and his loyalty to Saul.
At his dinner table with Abner his general by his side, Saul sat by the wall with his javelin nearby. Why did he sit by the wall? Well, if you go into a restaurant on duty for lunch, don’t you sit where you can watch just in case some low-life comes in to rob the place? And if you’re off duty, especially with your family, you’re also (hopefully) armed. But you don’t sit in the corner at home, put your gun on the dinner table, or ask your partner to forsake his own family and sit at the dinner table with you. Preparation is one thing; paranoia is another. You need to be reasonable, and Saul definitely was not being reasonable.
David was supposed to be at Saul’s for dinner but asked Jonathan to tell Saul that he had another engagement. Saul noticed David’s absence the first night, but said nothing. The second night Saul asked where David was. Jonathan told Saul that he’d let David go to his other engagement. When Saul heard that, he flew into a rage. He told Jonathan that he’d never be king as long as David were alive, and demanded that David be brought to be killed. Jonathan never wanted to be king. He wanted God’s will, and argued with his father in David’s defense. Saul furiously threw his javelin at Jonathan, but missed.
Jonathan had battlefield courage to face danger, and moral courage to stand up for right. As a cop, you need both kinds of courage, too. God can provide you grace to face danger, and moral courage to stand for right against those who would do wrong, and to put up with the fallout afterward. Psalm 37:3 says, “Trust in the LORD, and do good.” God is also pleased when we do right: “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness.” (1 Chronicles 29:17).
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Brian Miller 1/18/2018
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