One of my favorite relationships in the Bible has to be the bromance between David and Jonathan. They might not make sense together as they came from very different upbringings. Before we dive into their relationship let us establish some context: Jonathan was the son of the first established King of Israel, King Saul,and David was a shepherd boy who would come to replace King Saul. If you aren’t so familiar with David let me give you some highlights… He was the young man who brings down a giant who mocks his people group. David does not defeat this warrior through fierce combat, instead he defeats him with the unexpected: a slingshot and one stone. I definitely recommend you read it in 1 Samuel, it is a classic underdog story.
Though I do love David’s story, I want to discuss a different topic today…
Living out the fullness of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross requires us to lay down our privilege.
In Ephesians 2:14 we read Paul’s declaration against the hostility between different groups: “For He Himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility. Paul is saying that in his death, Jesus broke down what we as humans have divided. There are so many things that divide us today, but how do we bring ourselves into unison with others in the Church (other Christians) and beyond.
One way is to recognize the differences between us which leads us to recognizing our privilege.We hear this word so often now that we’ve become desensitized to its meaning. Privilege according to Merriam-Webster is defined as, “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage or favor; such a right or immunity attached specifically to a position or an office.” Jonathan is the prime example of being privileged, he is the son of a King with special rights and special positioning. Though he grew up from a privileged space, Jonathan’s life exemplifies how to lay down our privilege.
Throughout 1 Samuel 18-20 we see Jonathan laying down his privilege by:
One: Declaring David of equal royal position
Two: Moving over from his personal position of power
Three: Not accepting the established rule of law.
Declaring of equal positioning
In 1 Samuel 18 verse 1 and 4 it reads: “ After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.
Jonathan handed over a visible marker of power through his tunic. Today in age we give over similar tokens, we give of what we have to others when we donate. But what resonates more powerfully with me is that Jonathan handed over his sword, bow, and belt – his protection and power. These three articles were used to guard his life and to keep himself and his family in power. I don’t think many of us would be willing to hand over our substantial security blankets. Do you find protection and power in your job title, 401k, stocks, guns, degrees, cars, borders, or being around people that look and sound like you?
To declare others as being of equal positioning, you have to recognize the differences between you and others. Then you have to not just give of what you are comfortable sparing, but of those articles which sustain you in your position of difference which are connected to what gives you security and power.
Moving over from your position of power
It’s not enough to see someone as equal to you. Are you going to uphold that view even if it means you are displaced from your privilege? Jonathan was adamant on loving and protecting David and he took it so far putting his position in the line of fire. 1 Samuel 20:30-31 “Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse (David) to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!” I don’t know how to read the original text from which this was translated from, but Saul sounds pissed. Saul was made at Jonathan because he had been planning to kill David, so that he would remain as king, but now David was gone and his plans were foiled. Earlier in the story we can see that Jonathan had not believed David when he said he feared for his life and it was not until Jonathan saw his father lash out that he knew David was telling the truth. This part of the story teaches us two things: Firstly, we have to position our hearts to believe in the circumstances an individual is in. Secondly, we have to be willing to be dispositioned to let others rise up. Sometimes to make room at the table of power you won’t be able to just scoot over and add a seat – you might have to give up a seat all together.
Not accepting established rule as truth
Justice and unity cannot be found in man or in the construction of man’s government. In 1 Samuel 20: 35 – 42 we read how Jonathan gave a message to David to run away and evade King Saul’s death sentence. King Saul’s objective was to kill David so that him and his family would remain in power. Jonathan was essentially aiding a fugitive, going against the accepted status quo and established authority of the land. Why did he do this? I can’t help but think back to how the bible describes Jonathan’s love for David and the verses in Mark 12:30 -31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Jesus gave us commandments that is higher than any other commandment, which supersedes the laws created by man. Our charge as followers of Christ is to bring our present day laws, policies, and culture up against these two commandments.
- Loving the Lord God with all of our mind and strength. Some questions that you might ask yourself are: Do I love this established rule or potential rule more than God’s truth? Do I find more security in the things around than I do in God’s protection of me?
- Loving your neighbor as yourself. Do I prefer an established rule because it benefits me? Am I listening to the needs of those around me?
I believe that Jonathan loved God and was in tune with God’s purpose for the David. And his love for David allowed him to step aside and stand up against his father’s laws to carry out both of these commandments.
Jonathan loved God and saw the positioning of David as higher than his own. He loved David as himself and acted that out by declaring him as an equal, laying down and moving aside from his power, and abiding by God’s purpose and justice as above that of imperfect human authority.