We see in Saul and Jonathan a great contrast between two people in their attitude opposite David. This speaks of the relationship that every human being has with Christ. It is for or against Him. The relationship to Christ is all-determining for the present and the future. The separation that that triggers runs through families (Lk 12:51-5351Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;52for from now on five [members] in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.53They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”).
Saul speaks openly for the first time about killing David (verse 11Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, greatly delighted in David.). It is no longer during an attack of anger, but deliberate. He does it in the presence of Jonathan and all his servants. In this company David has only one friend, Jonathan. The servants seem to symbolize the silent majority. They are neither for David nor against him. They do not have their own opinion but go along with the party that offers them the most benefits. There is a certain esteem with them for David, of which Saul is also aware (1Sam 18:5,225So David went out wherever Saul sent him, [and] prospered; and Saul set him over the men of war. And it was pleasing in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.22Then Saul commanded his servants, “Speak to David secretly, saying, ‘Behold, the king delights in you, and all his servants love you; now therefore, become the king’s son-in-law.’”), but they do not speak openly for him, like Jonathan.
Jonathan is “greatly delighted in David”. Saul seems to have forgotten that. He will think that Jonathan is as afraid of his position as he is and will therefore benefit from killing David. But Jonathan informs David of the intentions of his father and urges him to exercise caution. He also informs him that he will let him know what his father really intends to do. He does not urge David to flee, but seeks an opportunity to return to his father’s court. Despite all the difficulties that is still David’s place.
In what Jonathan says in verses 4-54Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds [have been] very beneficial to you.5For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the LORD brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw [it] and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by putting David to death without a cause?” of David, we can almost hear the Christian speak of a fellow believer and of Christ. It is good to be a friend who speaks well of a friend. Above all, it is good to speak well of the Lord Jesus before the ears of the world.
The first thing Jonathan says is that Saul, as king, should not be tempted to sin against David. He may only kill David if sin is found in him. But, Jonathan testifies, David hath not sinned against the king. On the contrary, he has done what is good for him. Jonathan reminds his father of David’s victory over Goliath, putting his life at risk (cf. Jdg 12:33When I saw that you would not deliver [me], I took my life in my hands and crossed over against the sons of Ammon, and the LORD gave them into my hand. Why then have you come up to me this day to fight against me?”). That victory the LORD has given, and has benefited all Israel. Saul saw it himself and rejoiced.
Jonathan’s testimony to Saul shows how much David is a servant of the LORD and not just of Saul. David is hated without cause, as was and is the case with the Lord Jesus. The natural man can sometimes admire the Lord Jesus for His deeds. But if he doesn’t choose Him, he actually hates Him and also all who are in connection with Him.
Jonathan concludes his plea with an appeal to Saul’s common sense. There is no reason to kill David, he is innocent. Therefore Saul must refrain from killing David, otherwise he will shed innocent blood.
The heart of Saul is getting soft and he reassigns David, just like before. It characterizes David that he returns to the court of Saul. This can only be done by someone who lives with and for the LORD and not for the eyes of men. There is no resentment or revenge on his part. Despite all the injustice done to him and the permanent threat of death, David returns to perform his humble service with an intractable king.
Every time we find such moments of the becoming soft of the heart of Saul (1Sam 24:77David persuaded his men with [these] words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on [his] way.; 26:2121Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will not harm you again because my life was precious in your sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool and have committed a serious error.”). Each time it turns out to be only a transient condition and not the conviction of his heart. His jealousy for David remains and with it his hatred and his attempts to kill him. David remains for him the competitor of his throne, from which he does not want to renounce.
David escapes the sword of Saul four times in this chapter alone. First through the intervention of Jonathan. Next time by his own speed to dodge the spear Saul throws at him (verse 1010Saul tried to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he slipped away out of Saul’s presence, so that he stuck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night.). The third time by the help of Michal (verse 1212So Michal let David down through a window, and he went out and fled and escaped.) and the fourth time by the protection of Samuel (verse 2323He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah.).