And the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1 KJV

The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 1Samuel 18:1 NASB

Across the pages of Holy Scripture there appear, from time to time, individuals who make short cameo appearances and then seem to fade from the big story. Despite the minor role they are afforded, their lives are worthy of consideration and appreciation.

One such individual is Jonathan, the son of Saul. We tend to overlook him because of the magnitude of the shadow which David casts throughout the books which tell of his exploits. In truth, virtually everyone pales before the giant-sized portrait of David in the books of Samuel and Chronicles. Also, since David is such a significant picture of the Lord Jesus, we might overlook the features in Jonathan which were Christ-like in his life. In point of fact, every godly believer in both the Old and New Testament must, by the nature of being godly, mirror features of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the case of Jonathan, consider just the following:

A Selfless Love

The love between Jonathan and David was a pure and moral love. It was unlike the love of women for a man (2 Sam 1:26). David described it as “wonderful” in character. What made it so wonderful? What made it so Christ-like? We are told that Jonathan loved him as his own soul. The second half of the law was summarized by the Lord Jesus as, “love his neighbor as thyself” (Matt 22:39). The only one who ever fully kept this was the Lord Jesus. Such was His love that it took Him to a cross for us.

Jonathan sacrificed all out of love to David. All his rank and glory were laid aside in love for another. “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ …” (2 Cor 8:9). Jonathan is like our Lord Jesus in his selfless sacrificial love for another.

A Steadfast Friend

Jonathan has been criticized at times for not following David out to the cave. That criticism will not be echoed here. Jonathan gets high marks for being a faithful friend. In 1 Samuel 19 and 20 he displays his friendship in sterling colors. Saul and all of his henchman are trying to bring David down, yet Jonathan speaks for him and pleads for him. So obvious is the friendship of Jonathan for David, that Saul aimed the Javelin meant for David at Jonathan (ch 20:33). Jonathan took the Javelin meant for David! He became David’s substitute out of love and friendship for David.

When later, Saul was hunting David in fields and dens, Jonathan went to him to strengthen him and encourage him (1 Sam 23:16). Jonathan was a friend who was closer to David than his brothers. He was a friend who loved at all seasons (Pro 17:17).

A Saving Intercessor

Jonathan represented David before the throne and always spoke well of him. He pleaded his cause and upheld his righteousness (1 Sam 18, 19, 20). It seems, from some of the Psalms, that there were those surrounding Saul who urged him on in his pursuit, and who fed his envy, speaking evil of David. But Jonathan was a steadfast friend and saving intercessor.

Thus, as a selfless lover, steadfast friend, and faithful intercessor, Jonathan reflected something of the beauty of the Lord Jesus, centuries before He came. In that measure, his was a lovely and beautiful life.

Consider

  1. Are there other ways in which Jonathan reflected something of the Lord Jesus Christ in his life?
  2. What are some of the things which made Jonathan’s love to David “wonderful” or “marvelous”?