“When the lad had come to the place where the arrow was which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried out after the lad and said, ‘Is not the arrow beyond you?’ And Jonathan cried out after the lad, ‘Make haste, hurry, do not delay!’ So Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows and came back to his master.” 1 Samuel 20:37–38
While King Saul was prophesying at Naioth in Rama David and Jonathan met to discuss what was to be done about his anger toward David. Jonathan attempted to assure David that he was reasonably safe because he felt sure that his father would discuss any plans he made against David with him before he did anything. But David felt that Saul would probably hide his plans from Jonathan because he knew that he and Jonathan were friends. So they devised a test to find out Saul’s attitude forward David and a signal for letting David know the results.
The test was this: the next day was the beginning of the feast of the new moon and David would not attend. When Saul noticed David’s absence and asked about it Jonathan would say that David’s eldest brother had commanded that he attend the new moon celebration in Bethlehem and that he, Jonathan, had given him permission to go to Bethlehem. If Saul’s response was that that was ok then this meant that he had no evil intent toward David and David was safe, however, if Saul became angry then they would know that Saul wanted to kill him.
The signal to tell David the result was this: David was to hide at a certain field and Jonathan and an arrow boy would go to that field to practice archery. After Jonathan had shot a few arrows he would send his boy to collect them and when the boy got to where the arrows were, if all was well, Jonathan would call to him that the arrows were closer and that he should come back toward him, but if Saul was angry and all was not well Jonathan would call out that the arrows were further away and that the boy should go farther.
The next day everyone but David met for the new moon and Saul, assuming that David had become ceremonially unclean and was purifying himself, didn’t ask about it, but on the second day when David was absent he did inquire as to why David was missing. At this Jonathan gave the answer that he and David had planned and Saul blew up, called Jonathan terrible names, accused David of trying to take Jonathan’s rightful place as king and promising to kill him if he gets the chance.
Jonathan tried to intercede for David and for his efforts Saul threw a spear at him.
The next day Jonathan and an arrow boy went out to the field he and David had chosen for the signal and Jonathan gave the sign that told about Saul’s anger toward David.
David and Jonathan would always love one another like brothers but they would never again be able to spend any time together and they would only see each other once after this.
Sometimes being God’s chosen means that you have to make sacrifices. God’s plans don’t always harmonize with the plans of others. But God will make a way for his chosen to fulfill his purpose. Are we willing to do our part? Jonathan fulfilled his chosen task which helped David begin the next part of God’s preparation for him to become the next King of Israel.