The First Book of Samuel

Chapter 20

David consults with Jonathan for his safety, 1-10. Jonathan and David renew their covenant by oath, 11-17. Jonathan's token to David, 18-23. Saul, missing David, seeks to kill Jonathan, 24-34. Jonathan affectionately takes his leave of David, 35-42.

1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, "What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father that he seeks my life?" 2 And he said to him, "Far be it from you. You shall not die. Behold, my father will do nothing, either great or small, but that he will show it to me. And why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so." 3 And David swore moreover and said, "Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes and he says, 'Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he should be grieved.' But truly as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death." 4 Then Jonathan said to David, "Whatever your soul desires, I will even do it for you." 5 And David said to Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new-moon, and I should not fail to dine with the king. But let me go so that I may hide myself in the field until the third day at evening. 6 If your father at all misses me, then say, 'David earnestly asked leave of me so that he might run to Beth-lehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.' 7 If he says, 'It is well,' your servant will have peace. But if he is very angry, then be sure that evil is determined by him. 8 Therefore, you shall deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is in me iniquity, slay me yourself. For why should you bring me to your father?" 9 And Jonathan said, "Far be it from you. For if I knew certainly that evil is determined by my father to come upon you, then would I not tell it to you?" 10 Then David said to Jonathan, "Who shall tell me? Or what if your father answers you roughly?" 11 And Jonathan said to David, "Come, and let us go out into the field." And the both of them went out into the field.

12 And Jonathan said to David, "O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about this time tomorrow, or the third day, and behold, if there is good toward David, and I then do not send to you and show it to you, 13 May the LORD do so and much more to Jonathan. But if it pleases my father to do you evil, then I will show it to you and send you away so that you may go in peace. And may the LORD be with you as he has been with my father. 14 And you shall, while I yet live, not only show me the kindness of the LORD so that I may not die, 15 But also you shall not withdraw your kindness from my house forever, not even when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David 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.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, "Tomorrow is the new-moon, and you will be missed because your seat will be empty. 19 And when you have stayed three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself when the business was in hand, and you shall remain by the stone of Ezel. 20 And I will shoot three arrows on its side, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And behold, I will send a boy, saying, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I expressly say to the boy, 'Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,' then come, for there is peace to you, and no hurt, as the LORD lives. 22 But if I say to the young man, 'Behold, the arrows are beyond you,' go your way, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as to the matter which you and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever."

24 So David hid himself in the field. And when the new-moon had come, the king sat down to eat food. 25 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. 26 Nevertheless, Saul did not speak anything that day, for he thought, "Something has befallen him, he is not clean. Surely he is not clean." 27 And it came to pass on the next day, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, "Why does the son of Jesse not come to eat, neither yesterday, nor today?" 28 And Jonathan answered Saul, "David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Beth-lehem. 29 And he said, 'Let me go, I pray you, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away, I pray you, and see my brothers.' Therefore, he does not come to the king's table."

30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of the perverse rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. And now, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die." 32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, "Why shall he be slain? What has he done?" 33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him—by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to slay David. 34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food on the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David because his father had done him shame.

35 And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little boy with him. 36 And he said to his boy, "Run, find the arrows which I shoot." And as the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 And when the boy had come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the boy and said, "Is the arrow not beyond you?" 38 And Jonathan cried after the boy, "Make speed, hasten, do not stay." And Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39 But the boy did not know anything. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40 And Jonathan gave his arms to his boy and said to him, "Go, carry them to the city." 41 And as soon as the boy was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another until David exceeded. 42 And Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring forever.'" 43 And he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.


Matthew Henry Commentary - 1st Samuel, Chapter 20[➚]


[v.3] - "I have found grace in your eyes" - Reference, 1st Samuel 18:1.

[v.13] - "But if it pleases my father to do you evil" - It seems as if Jonathan was speaking to God previous to this statement, as this statement and the rest of what Jonathan says is directed to David.

[v.17] - "he loved him as he loved his own soul" - Reference, 1st Samuel 18:1, 3.