Useful Bible Studies > 1 Samuel Commentary > chapter 20

Jonathan tells David to escape

1 Samuel 20:35-39

In the open country near Gibeah there was a large stone that people called Ezel (20:19). Its name means ‘departure’; Jonathan and David knew the place well.

It was here that Jonathan came to use his bow and arrows. He had a boy with him whose task was to collect the arrows. Jonathan’s actions on this day would not have surprised anyone who saw him. People would have thought that he was just improving his skills for Israel’s frequent wars. However, Jonathan had another reason to shoot his arrows in that particular place on that day.

Really, Jonathan had come to give a secret message to David. Jonathan had now discovered that Saul really was plotting to kill David. David could not return safely to Gibeah, and Jonathan had promised to warn him.

Jonathan was very careful to make sure that nobody would see David. He had arranged for David to hide near the stone. As he shot his arrows, he would shout instructions to the boy. However, really those instructions would be for David.

So, Jonathan shot one arrow a long way into the distance. He intended to do that if David was in danger. Then he could tell the boy that the arrow was beyond him. As the boy must go away to fetch the arrow, so David must go away (20:22).

However, as the boy went to get the arrow, Jonathan decided to make his message clearer. Perhaps he worried that David might not understand the message correctly. So Jonathan shouted more instructions to the boy, but really, they were for David.

‘Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!’ Jonathan shouted. The message for David was serious, urgent and clear. He must escape at once.

Next part: David and Jonathan separate (1 Samuel 20:40-41)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.