“Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:2–4
An interesting thing happens after the victory of David over Goliath that once again demonstrates King Saul’s pride and selfishness but also reveals the depth of his son Jonathan’s character and humble greatness.
David has just returned from the field of battle. The jubilation coursing through the army of Israel must have been electric. Forty days of mockery and humiliation by the Philistine champion had been ended abruptly and dramatically by a single sling stone followed by a single stroke of Goliath’s own sword. Chagrin and shame have been transformed in to pride and rejoicing.
In the wake of this, Samuel chapter eighteen verse two tells us that, “Saul took him (David) that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.”
It’s very interesting that up until this point Saul had asked David’s father Jesse’s permission for David to serve him as musician and armor bearer, but after this event David is “taken” and not allowed to God home anymore and he refers to himself multiple times as a slave.
The Hebrew word, qal, is consistently used when the subject “taken” had no choice in whether it was taken or not. This is of course not significant when applying to an inanimate object but when applied to a person the implication is significant.
Terri Fivash, in her historical novels telling the story of David, explains Saul’s actions by placing them in the context of David refusing to pledge himself to Saul as a subordinate son. David as God’s chosen and anointed King for Israel, of course, would not have been able to take such an action with one who had been rejected by God as Saul had been.
However, I could not find any scholarly references to support Fivash’s explanation.
What ever his reason, Saul’s “taking” of David contrasts sharply with Jonathan’s actions toward David.
Jonathan covenants with David and then transfers to him all the outward tokens of his position as the eldest son, the heir, of King Saul: his robe, armor, sword, bow and girdle. Before the battle only Saul and Jonathan had possessed swords.
Saul in his out-of-control pride could not see who David was but Jonathan could. Jonathan saw that God had given David his place and he was the next King of Israel. Jonathan didn’t fight God’s choice. Instead he loved David, accepting and submitting himself to God and the one he had chosen.
Lord give me the grace Jonathan had. Help me accept the place you have for me and to not be jealous of the place you’ve chosen for another.