Summary: Unfortunately, Family Feuds don’t only occur on a game show...they are a reality.
Pt. 3 - Duck Dynasty
Family Feuds equal good TV. Family Feuds equal terrible life. When Family Feuds slip over into real life they are very seldom laughing matters. Family Feuds create life long limps and open wounds. Wrong words, looks, actions from family have life altering impact. Unfortunately, these feuds are common and no family is immune to them.
Today I want to look at a family feud in Scripture that I am not really sure I have ever really heard anyone talk about. I have heard others and I myself have talked about all the other drama surrounding this feud but never focused in on this part of the story. I believe this oft unexamined portion of the story may contain some of the most important family lessons.
Text: 1 Samuel 20:24-34 (Living Bible)
So David hid himself in the field. When the new moon celebration began, the king sat down to eat at his usual place against the wall. Jonathan sat opposite him and Abner was sitting beside Saul, but David’s place was empty. Saul didn’t say anything about it that day, for he supposed that something had happened so that David was ceremonially impure. Yes, surely that must be it! But when his place was still empty the next day, Saul asked Jonathan, “Why hasn’t David been here for dinner either yesterday or today?” “He asked me if he could go to Bethlehem to take part in a family celebration,” Jonathan replied. “His brother demanded that he be there, so I told him to go ahead.” Saul boiled with rage. “You fool!” he yelled at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want this son of a nobody to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that fellow is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!” “But what has he done?” Jonathan demanded. “Why should he be put to death?” Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him; so at last Jonathan realized that his father really meant it when he said David must die. Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat all that day, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
Most of us are very familiar with the tension between Saul and David. Saul fears David and the favor and preference the people have for him. However, there is a family feud that develops because of Saul’s anger toward David. Stop a second and think about the backdrop of this feud. Saul is a farmer when Israel demands a king and this unlikely farmer is chosen to be the nation’s first leader. In that moment not only is Saul’s life and station changed but his son is equally impacted. Jonathan goes from a farmer’s kid to a prince and simultaneously heir to the throne. Next in line. On deck. He is rightfully positioned to follow his father as king. However, Jonathan had something his father did not have. His father had discernment because, as jealous and angry as he was, he knew David was chosen by God to follow him. However, Jonathan differ d from his father in that he had a willingness to cooperate with God’s plan. Saul fought to the death trying to keep God from doing what He wanted to do. Jonathan could have hated David as much as Saul or maybe even more because he knew David would interrupt and deny him access to the throne. However, Jonathan believed it was a God thing and embraced it. This caused a family feud that very few talk about. You see the first real and public manifestation of it in the account we read. Jonathan protects and shields David and then when his father’s real intentions are revealed he goes one step further and publicly confronts his own dad. Saul’s response to this confrontation was his all too normal one. He throws a spear in an attempt to kill his own son. How many of you would agree you are in the midst of a family feud when a father tries to kill a son? Some of you know what that feels like. You have had family members hurl words that if they had been accurate would have killed you. Some of you have had loved ones try to murder you when you spoke up or offered an opposing view. Jonathan ducks and teaches us some powerful lessons.
1. A dissenting voice isn’t necessarily a destructive voice.
This feud is simply a result of Saul being unwilling to listen to, consider and accepting any dissenting view. We know, because of hindsight, that Jonathan was right. David was chosen but had done nothing to warrant Saul’s anger, fear or reaction. The problem was Saul wouldn’t even consider that as a possibility.