Summary: A beautiful figurative illustration of the grace of God shown through David’s Godly love for his friend, Jonathan.
A Picture Of The Grace Of God
1 Samuel 18:1-4, - "And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that [was] upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle."
In this simple yet profound story of the love and grace of Israel’s first great king, we find an incomparable preview of the story of God’s infinite love for us. Here we see portrayed in a beautiful figure the grace that brought His love down to man. We see in David’s action a clear metaphor of the loving act of God’s Son Who died on the cross for our sins.
The Biblical story is quite clear. David and Jonathan had a very special relationship. This relationship is expressed in their beautiful covenant. It seems God brought all this to pass. It would not be natural in any ordinary sense for Jonathan to love and befriend David. Jonathan was the son of Saul, the King. Saul clearly despised the sweet psalmist of Israel. He destained the shepherd boy who was a man after God’s own heart. We can see all the evil emotions of jealousy, envy and hatred at work in Saul’s life. He set out to hunt, harass, harm and hurt the one who would become his successor. His ultimate goal was to kill and destroy him.
Jonathan had every personal and selfish reason to join his father’s deadly campaign against David. He knew that David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next King of Israel. He would have known this meant, if David survived Saul’s vendetta, he nor his descendents would never sit upon the throne of Israel. It would be reasonable to assume that Jonathan at least sensed that David’s survival meant that he would probably be removed from the line of succession in a violent and tragic way.
Yet Jonathan chose to love man His father had chosen to view as an enemy. Such love could not be defined in ordinary terms. The sort of love that knit the souls of these two great men together is clearly a love that must be shed abroad in the hearts of man by an infinite loving God. Only God could constrain sinful man to love in such way. Such love is unconditional. No strings are attached. No reward is expected. Reciprocation is not required. It is clearly beyond man’s capacity to understand such love, much less love in this manner. We see here a wonderful illustration of God’s kind of love. The kind of love that drew our Savior to the cross. The cords of this kind of love bound Him there as He cried out, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me..." This kind of love held Him there to the bitter end when He cried out, "It is finished..."
Let us look at this timeless story that so clearly portrays the love and grace of God for man and draw some obvious parallels:
Mephibosheth was a helpless cripple. He was crippled by a fall that came about in an attempt to flee from the expected judgment of the new king, David. The crippled youngster was an enemy of David by virtue of his birth. I was the custom of the time to slay all the royal family when a new dynasty came into power. This custom can be seen throughout all of the history of Western and Eastern civilizations and continues even until today. In a practical way common sense dictated it. Descendents of a previous lineage automatically became enemies of the new ruler. Their very existence could always be viewed as a threat to the throne.
In II Kings Chapter Eleven we have a terrible and tragic illustration of this. When king Ahaziah was slain by Jehu, his mother, Athaliah, wanted to be queen. She immediately had all his children, her own grandchildren, slaughtered. Or so she thought. But a nurse hid one child. His name was Joash. Some six years later, through some real palace intrigue, her grandson was placed on the throne and she was executed. This story demonstrates why the custom of destroying ones perceived future enemies seemed a practical necessity to new rulers. It also shows the depths human depravity can reach. When people are motivated by the desire for power, the greatest corrupting influence of all, there is not limit to their evil deeds. It has been truly said, "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.."