Stuck in the Middle
1 Samuel 19:1-10
1And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. 2And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” 4And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 5For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” 6And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” 7And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.
8And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him. 9Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. 10And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.
So many times, as I read the stories God has left us about His people, I have wanted to meet these characters in person. They were men and women of faith and had intriguing stories. But, I confess, Jonathan has never appeared on my list of believers I hope to meet in heaven someday. Sure, I’ve included Paul, King David, Esther, Elijah . . . the list is long. But Jonathan has never crossed my mind – until today.
Jonathan remains faithful to both his father and his friend, even though they are enemies. While Saul has proven to be a bad king, Jonathan still tries to serve him as such. And he seems to walk that fine line between disapproval for his father’s actions and adherence to the rigors of the Fourth Commandment, by respecting Saul as his father. Saul’s actions are so disagreeable that he deserves to be abandoned by Jonathan, but it never happens. So not only is Jonathan faithful, he is wise and clever as well. I’m sure he felt like he was walking a tightrope most of the time.
Saul, in the meantime, still seeks to kill David. Somewhere in his warped imagination, I think he truly believed that if David were dead, all of his problems would be solved. The kingdom would remain in his family. What he doesn’t account for is the will of God. David is God’s choice and His will for the future of Israel. A spear isn’t going to change God’s plan. Instead, God uses this incredible friendship with Jonathan to help protect David’s life. And remember, Jonathan is protecting David so that he can be the next king, a fact which I’m sure Jonathan knows, even though that throne was supposed to go to Jonathan himself. Again, his integrity is showing and it’s brilliant.
I think that Jonathan performs this dance between David and Saul with grace because God grants that to him. Even in the toughest situation, God provides exactly what we need to face the challenges presented to us. In Jonathan’s case, that was a little creativity, a great deal of diplomacy, integrity, and faithfulness to his father and his friend. He’s an admirable guy and I’m excited to meet him.