Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 20

Jonathan taught David how to rule as king

1 Samuel 20:14-17

More than anyone else, it was perhaps Jonathan who taught David how to rule as Israelís king.

That may surprise us, especially as Jonathan never became king himself. However, for about 40 years, Jonathan watched the rule of his father, King Saul. During those years, Jonathan formed his own opinions about the right way to rule a nation. It was these ideas that would make David into a truly great king.

Many of Jonathanís opinions were the opposite of Saulís opinions. Saul thought that a king should control powerfully both his people and his God. His ambition was strong and he often acted cruelly.

Jonathan, on the other hand, refused to control people by fear. God rules his people by love; Jonathan believed that Israelís king should act in the same manner. Only a relationship of love between God, the king, and the people would make Israel strong.

It was Jonathan who first made a covenant (promises to establish friendship) with David (18:3). Later, all the leaders of Israel would make similar promises to David (2 Samuel 5:1-3). When there were troubles, Jonathan made his covenant with David stronger. He agreed with David that their promises would not just last during their lives. They also made promises on behalf of their families in the future (20:42). You can read how David kept those promises in 2 Samuel chapter 9.

Of course, Jonathan did not teach David as a teacher does, but as a friend. That seems a very good way to show someone how to establish a relationship of love.

Jonathan never had the opportunity to rule Israel, but he did not care about his own ambitions. He cared much more about David, whom he wanted very much to become Israelís next king. It was David and not Jonathan who would rule Israel with a relationship of love.

Next part: Jonathanís secret message to David (1 Samuel 20:18-23)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.