Jonathan’s Friendship, Saul’s Jealousy

Life of King David  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Godly friendship is built on commitment to God and provides lifelong encouragement.

Text: 1 Samuel 18:1-20:42
Theme: Godly friendship is built on commitment to God and provides lifelong encouragement.
Date: 06/21/21 File name: King_David_03 ID Number: OT09-18
Of the forty-two kings and queens who ruled over Judah and Israel, David was the most important. To this day, three thousand years after he lived, Jews still sing in Hebrew of “David, king of Israel, who lives and flourished.” It was David who established Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people, and the religious center of Jewish life when he moved the Ark of the Covenant there. His life is eventful, and his character is fully illuminated in the Scriptures — we witness the greatness of his life and the great failures of his life. My goal in this series is to look at the major events of his life and learn lessons from it.
Tonight we’re going to look at chapters 18-20. There are three major actors in this chapter with others playing “supporting roles.” The three principle people are Jonathan, Saul and of course David. The outline we will follow is ...
• Jonathan’s Respect
• David’s Rise
• Saul’s Rage


1. within chapters 18-20 the Bible highlights three human characteristics and the price of each
We see the price of true friendship
We see the price of true loyalty
We see the price of unremitting jealousy
a. Jonathan is the eldest son of King Saul and becomes David’s closest friend
1) David and Jonathan could have easily become bitter rivals
b. instead they became closer than brothers because both were committed to the Lord above all else
c. Jonathan will come to have a great respect for David
2. 1 Samuel 18 opens with the consequences of David’s defeat of Goliath and the routing of the Philistine army that has invaded Israel
a. we see the crowd’s reaction, Saul’s reaction, and Jonathan’s reaction
b. they lay the ground-work for the relationships that will develop in these chapters
3. let me takes these reactions backward


1. within days, news has spread throughout the region of the great victory of Saul’s army over the Philistines
a. at the center of the news is the story of a young Jewish shepherd named David and his courageous stand against the Philistine champion, Goliath
b. we all know how these kinds of stories grow and exaggerations become truth
ILLUS. Let me give you an illustration. Sergeant Alvin York was an American hero of WWI. Under his leadership York and six privates killed dozens of German soldiers and captured another 132. York personally braved German machine-gun fire killing at least twenty enemy soldiers on his own. For his heroism York won the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In 1941 Gary Cooper played Sergeant York in the movie of the same name. After the battle, as York and his fellow troopers are heading back to their own company, the story begins to circulate, and of course, becomes embellished. In one scene, based on actual events, soldiers are passing the word ...
Motorcycle Courier tells a non-com: HEY SARGE! York by and his men captured 132 Germans!
Sergeant: GUY NAMED YORK! Captured 132 Heinies all by his lonesome!
Buddy 1: How’d he do it?
Buddy 2: Musta surrounded ’em!
Buddy 3: [He captured] A whole division and a bunch of high officers!
Soldier in Dugout to Noncom Soaking His Feet: Say, Sarge, d’ya hear?
York captured the Kaiser!
1) the truth was exciting enough, but the story was continuously embellished
2) I have no doubt the same is taking place among the Israelites
2. the people even come up with a catchy little tune to commemorate the occasion
“As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7 And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”” (1 Samuel 18:6–7, ESV)
a. Israel has a new champion of their own — it was Saul the king of Israel, but now he’s been replaced in the hearts of the people by David the shepherd boy
1) David is Israel’s new poster boy
2) his picture will soon be sitting by every Jewish girl’s bed
3. the women of Israel’s new song misses the point
a. the whole point of Golaith’s death and the Philistine rout is not about David ... it is not about tactics ... it is not about personal bravery ... it is not about the underdog vs. the really, really big dog
b. the point is that Israel’s salvation is not by military might or dumb luck, but at the hand of the Lord
1) how could they have missed this?
2) the same way we miss it!
4. here is one of the most important lessons we can learn about the human heart
a. no matter how God helps us, our hearts are tempted to worship the way the victory came, instead of the God who provided the way to the victory
b. Israel should have been singing songs to God for their deliverance
1) He was their true champion
c. now, I think all cultures need heros — men and women who are champions of
their nation and the ideals of their nation
5. but appreciation for heroes becomes dangerous when it turns into worship of heroes
a. we should be attracted to our heroes, but not addicted to our heroes
ILLUS. Just withing the last month I discovered a part of our culture I was clueless about. I’ve always known about “Trekie Conventions.” These are fans of the Star Trek TV series and movies who show up at conventions to meet the stars. But our culture’s hero worship has morphed into some way weirder. It’s called Cosplay and is short for Costume Play. Think about Halloween dress up for adults on steroids and year-round. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as a comic book hero character and attending Cosplay gatherings. People who do it regularly are called ‘cosplayers’. Many Cosplayers will spend thousands of dollars on their character’s outfits. Some have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars having plastic surgery to alter their looks so that they look more like the character they are impersonating.
1) this is hero worship to the extreme
b. the issue, of course, is that all heroes have feet of clay — that is, they are fallible and will make mistakes and will grievously disappoint
c. we shall see in later chapters of 1 Samuel that this is certainly true of David
d. God has given the human race one great champion who will never disappoint us
1) his name is Jesus!

B. SAUL’S REACTION — Hero Hatred

1. chapter 18 is one of the best illustrations of human depravity in all the Scriptures
a. Saul’s behavior toward David reveals how every part of man — his mind, emotions, and flesh — have been corrupted by sin
1) sin so penetrates to the very core of our being that every part of our character is tainted by sin
2. Saul also hears the newest top single hit tune being sung in every Jewish community
a. Saul has struck down his thousands, BUT ...
b. rather than celebrating David’s victory over Goliath as a great victory for God’s people, and his kingdom Saul’s jealousy begin to simmer
“And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on.” (1 Samuel 18:8–9, ESV)
1) not that’s a HUGE leap in logic, isn’t it?
3. as we shall see, Saul’s suspicion toward David turns into a vengeful animosity
a. virtually all we see Saul doing in these chapters is one great conspiracy to see David dead

C. JONATHAN’S REACTION — Humbled by the Hero

“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:1–4, ESV)
1. we’re told that immediately Jonathan’s heart went out to David
a. his spirit went out to David, and he was deeply attracted to David’s heroism
1) the Bible says that Jonathan became one in spirit with David
2) in the Hebrew it literally says that Jonathan became chained to David
ILLUS. Today we would say that they were thick as thieves or two peas in a pod. Those sayings are how we describe two friends who seem inseparable ... you see one you see the other. Let me quickly say, their’s is not a homo-erotic relationship. LGBTQ supporters believe that David and Jonathan’s friendship affirms that same-sex couples are blessed by God; that they provide a role model for same-sex love. Some consider David to be bisexual, since the Hebrew scriptures also recount how he committed adultery with Bathsheba and later made her one of his eight wives. Some in the LGBTQ lifestyle honor David and Jonathan as “gay saints.”
3) and yes, that’s ridiculous and has no biblical or historical credibility
ILLUS. Frederick Buechner, an ordained Presbyterian minister and the author of more than thirty books observes, “It’s sad, putting it rather mildly, that we live at a time when in many quarters two men can’t embrace or weep together or speak of loving one another without arousing the suspicion that they are also lovers.”
2. Jonathan humbled himself, and the way he humbled himself is absolutely astonishing
a. 1st, Jonathan made a personal covenant with David
1) this covenant would be very important for David’s well-being later
b. 2nd, Jonathan sealed the covenant with royal gifts
1) he gave him his royal robe, even though he was the king to be
2) he even gave David his tunic, his sword and bow and his belt
c. what is Jonathan doing?
1) he is honoring David by giving to him the princely garments and weapons reserved for the heir to Saul’s throne
2) Jonathan is saying “You deserve to be king. You’re a better man than I”
3) a few chapters later he actually says it — Jonathan knows that David will be king and that he will be serving David
“And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.”” (1 Samuel 23:17, ESV)
4) it becomes as clear to Jonathan, as to anyone, that the Spirit of the Lord rests on David
3. Jonathan’s attitude toward David leads to one of the deepest friendships found in the Scriptures


1. chapters 18-20 document David’s growing rise in influence and popularity among the people of Israel
2. after his victory over Goliath, king Saul brought David into his court on a permanent basis
a. but as we shall see, the opposite destinies Samuel had prophesied of these two men created tension that soon erupted into conflict between the two
3. in these chapters we see David’s life begin to unfold


“And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” (1 Samuel 18:5, ESV)
“So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. 14 And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:13–14, ESV)
“David arose and went, along with his men, and killed two hundred of the Philistines. And David brought their foreskins, which were given in full number to the king, that he might become the king’s son-in-law. And Saul gave him his daughter Michal for a wife.” (1 Samuel 18:27, ESV)
“And there was war again. And David went out and fought with the Philistines and struck them with a great blow, so that they fled before him.” (1 Samuel 19:8, ESV)
1. David, I think, would have been the very first person to admit that his success was of the Lord
a. but we also know that David has gifts and abilities that make him a capable leader
1) bravery in the face of dangerous foes
2) military skills in maneuver, mobility and tactics
3) strong yet unassuming
4) humble and self-possessed
5) loyalty to others — even toward those who oppose him
6) selflessness
2. David becomes a gifted military leader, and also


1. David is a remarkable example of faithfulness to a leader even though that leader comes to despise him
2. 1st, David remains a faithful servant, playing music for the king when the harmful spirit from God came upon Saul
a. 1 Samuel 18:10 tells us that during one of these episodes Saul raved within his house while David was playing
b. it’s during this episode that twice Saul chucks a spear at David
1) most folks would have turned in there resignation at this point, but David remains faithful
3. 2nd, David was given command over a thousand men
a. while this is certainly an honor, Saul does this in order to set David up for failure
1) but David had success ... and the Lord was with him
4. 3rd, Saul give David his youngest daughter as a bride, but the bridal price is the foreskins of one hundred Philistine warriors
a. again, this is Saul’s attempt to increase the amount of time David has to spend on the battlefield hoping that some Philistine soldier might get lucky and kill David
5. all of Saul’s plans fail, and David remains a devoted servant of the king despite all the palace intrigue
a. why was David so loyal to Saul after everything Saul had done to him?
b. the primary reason David was loyal to Saul was the anointing King Saul had received from the Lord
1) in other words, the Lord was the One who chose Saul to be king, and David refused to go against God’s will
c. even when David had the opportunity to kill Saul, he refrained, saying, “As surely as the Lord lives . . . the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed” (1 Samuel 26:10–11)
6. at this point in his life David really is a man after God’s own heart and God reciprocates by blessing David


1. David’s popularity makes Saul angry and jealous
a. 1 Samuel 18:9 says that after the death of Goliath and the song of the women of Israel that Saul eyed David from that day on
1) Saul is paranoid to the enth degree
b. in Saul’s mind, David’s days are numbered — it’s just a matter of how does the king achieve the shepherd boy’s death and keep his hands clean?
2. Saul attempts to kill David five times — all are unsuccessful
a. First and Second Attempts (18:10-16)
1) twice Saul hurls a spear at David as he plays his harp
b. Third Attempt (18:17-30)
1) twice Saul offers one of his daughters in marriage to David if he proves himself by fighting the Philistines
c. Fourth Attempt (19:1-10)
1) Saul attempts to enlist his entire royal court and even his own son, Jonathan, to kill David on sight
2) as a result of Jonathan’s pleas for Saul to spare David’s life Saul promises to no longer seek to kill him
“And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. ... 6 And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan. Saul swore, “As the LORD lives, he shall not be put to death.”” (1 Samuel 19:4, 6, ESV)
3) Saul betrays his word to his own son and once again attempts to kill David with a spear
d. Fifth Attempt (19:11-17)
1) Saul sends men to kill David when David leaves his house one morning
2) but through Michal, David’s wife and daughter of Saul, she tells David the plot and helps him escape
3. Saul is a man with “issues”



1. there are two models of friendship in the Old Testament
a. one is female — Ruth and Naomi
b. one is male — David and Jonathan
1) their friendship is the more remarkable since these two men have competing interests
a) Jonathan is the heir apparent to the throne of Israel
b) yet, David has been anointed by the Prophet Samuel to fill that position when Saul is gone
2) yet, their potential competition does not stand in the way of their friendship
2. there are many characteristics of friendship found in the Bible, but let me give you the ones found in these chapters
a. Deep Friendships Are Transparent Friendships
1) this is what is meant when we read the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David
2) they got below the superficialities of friendship
3) they shared their deepest hopes, their deepest fears, their deepest aspirations, and their deepest motives
b. Deep Friendships Are Vulnerable Friendships
1) when a friendship is as transparent as was David and Jonathan’s that makes the individual vulnerable to the other
ILLUS. It’s getting a call from a friend who chirps Hi. How you doing? And you honestly answer, Awful, can I tell you about it? And you tell your story knowing you’ll get both understanding and confidentiality.
a) most of us have been socialized not to reveal vulnerability
1) particularly men ... particularly men of my generation
b) we’re supposed to have it together, and, if we don’t, to keep it to ourselves
c) and let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t want to see are friends being vulnerable, because if they admit that they ain’t got it all together then we may have to admit that we don’t either
2) an old adage states, A true friend is someone who know everything about you and still loves you
a) there is a lot of truth to that
c. Deep Friendships Stand Times of Testing
1 Samuel 20:35–42
1) Saul’s admiration for David after the Goliath incident quickly turned to fear and loathing spurred on by the evil spirit that came upon him
2) Jonathan is caught squarely in the middle — seeking to maintain loyalty to his father, the king, but also maintaining loyalty to David whom his father is attempting to kill
3) he seeks to be a reconciler between the two even though that attempt ultimately fails
4) through it all Jonathan and David remain intensely loyal to each other
3. that leads to the second lesson ...


1. Jonathan and David’s friendship is severely tested by Saul’s determined evil
a. both young men are determined to remain loyal to Saul, if for no other reason, he is the king and God’s anointed leader of Israel
2. in chapter 20 they hatch a plan to determine, once and for all, Saul’s intentions toward David
a. Jonathan makes a covenant with David, and confirms it with a vow
“And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the LORD take vengeance on David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” (1 Samuel 20:16–17, ESV)
1) Jonathan knows that his own father is David’s enemy
2) yet it is not Jonathan who will take vengeance on David’s behalf, but he will let God accomplish it in his own time and his own way
b. in order to communicate his father’s intentions Jonathan arranges for archery practice (1 Samuel 20:18-23)
3. it is now that we witness the full derangement of Saul
a. when Jonathan explains why David has not joined them for dinner, Saul explodes in anger — not at David, but at Jonathan
1) Saul dishonors his son in front of the royal court
2) calls him, in the language of our day, an S.O.B
3) accuses him of taking David’s side against him
4) and then proceeds to hurl a spear at his own son
4. if Jonathan is going to remain a loyal son, and a loyal friend, he’s got to say goodby to his friend
a. David will go on the run from Saul and Jonathan will disappear from the narrative until the end of 1 Samuel when he and father are both killed fighting the Philistines
b. Jonathan’s story is as interesting as is David’s story — he walks a tightrope and remains loyal to a friend, and loyal to a father who hates that friend


1. Saul is a deeply insecure man and that insecurity leads to envy, envy leads to jealousy and jealousy leads bitterness and wrath
a. jealousy that leads a spouse to defend their marriage is a rational emotion
b. jealousy that leads to paranoia can take on a wicked presence in our life
1) this is what happens to Saul
2. jealously is a natural, instinctive emotion that everyone experiences at one point or another
a. technically however, what Saul is experiencing is not jealousy, but envy — he covets what David has
ILLUS. When you "covet thy neighbor's wife," you are resentful that your neighbor has her, and you don't.
3. the Bible tells us that we are to have the perfect kind of love for each other that God has for us
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).
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