2336. The Love Of Jonathan, And The Love Of Jesus

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No. 2336-39:565. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, September 29, 1889, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, November 26, 1893.

Your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women. {2Sa 1:26}

1. David was a poet; and when he found that his best-beloved friend had fallen by the arrows of the Philistines, he wept greatly, and then he cheered his heart by writing the very fine elegy, {a} which in subsequent years was called “The Song of the Bow.” Even if David’s lamentation is judged according to the canons of literary taste, it must be placed among the first of poetic compositions. So David tried to keep his friend’s memory alive; the song was meant to be a memorial to him. Such friends as Jonathan are not common; and when we have had them, we must not forget them.

2. It is sad that, in these days, friendship is proverbially a frail thing. Friends are like swallows, that are with us in our summer-time, and gone when the clouds of autumn begin to gather. When a man has a faithful friend, let him grapple him to his side with hooks of steel; and when he loses him, let him know that he has lost what will be very hard to replace, and let him not forget his friend though he is buried beneath the sod. True friendship likes to create memorials of the departed. We keep mementos of the loved ones we have lost, we like to think of the happy days of communion we have had together, and we will not allow the cherished name to be blotted out from the memory of men.

3. When I thought of this subject, I said to myself, “I shall see many tonight who are lovers of the Lord Jesus Christ; I shall be face-to-face with thousands who love him as they love their own soul.” I believe that is my happiness now. Well then, beloved friends, let us who love Christ keep him always in memory. If you can speak of his name, do not be silent. If you can make melody, in honour of Jesus, in the great congregation, take down the minstrel’s harp, and lay your fingers among the strings, and bring out sweetest music to his dear name so that thousands may hear; but if you have a feebler instrument, sing or play to the two or three, and let those who love you know that you love your Lord best of all. Or if your tongue fails you, use your pen to let men know who Jesus is. Say, with the psalmist, “My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the King.”

4. What shall we do to keep Christ’s name before the sons of men? Let us be inventive, and often make the winds and waves to bear the story of his life and love for those who do not know it. I would whisper in the ear of someone, “If you love Jesus, how is it that you are never at his table?” If there is any way of keeping him in memory, which is better than every other, it is the one which he himself has chosen, “Do this in memory of me.” How do you excuse yourselves, you lovers of Christ, who have never kept up this feast of love? This is one of his dying requests, “Meet and remember me”; and yet, though you say that you love him, and I will not challenge the truth of what you say, you have never yielded obedience to his loving request, and come to eat the bread and drink of the cup which are the memorials of his broken body and his poured-out blood. David, you could sing of Jonathan, though there was no law that you should do so; what will you say of some who love the Christ of God better than you loved Jonathan, and yet have never remembered him in the way in which he asked to be remembered, but have cast behind their back the sweet forget-me-not of the table of communion?

5. Let that stand as a preface. May the Lord put our hearts in tune now while we think about two things! The first is the small type, Jonathan’s love for David; the second is the infinite antitype, Christ’s love for men. Perhaps it will be sweetest tonight if each one of us can say, “Christ’s love for me. He loved me, and gave himself for me.” That expression will be in harmony with the words of the text, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

6. I. First, then, we have to think a little about JONATHAN’S LOVE FOR DAVID.

7. Jonathan’s was an exceptional love, because of the purity of its origin. Jonathan loved David out of great admiration for him. When he saw him come back with the head of Goliath in his hand, he loved him as a soldier loves a soldier, as a brave man loves another brave man. He felt that there was the right kind of metal in that young man; and though Jonathan was the king’s son, and heir-apparent to the throne, we find that he “stripped himself of the robe that was on him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his belt.” He felt that such a hero, who could so trust his God, and so risk his life, and come off so victorious, deserved his utmost love. It did not begin in self-interest, it did not begin in relationship; but it began in the likeness that Jonathan saw between his own nature, and that of David. It was one brave man loving another brave man.

8. Jonathan’s love proved also to be most intense. It is said that “he loved him as his own soul.” He would at any moment have sacrificed his life to preserve the life of David; in fact, I do not doubt that Jonathan thought David’s life was much more valuable than his own, and that he was quite willing to expose himself to peril so that David might be preserved. Jonathan’s was a very intense love. May we see more of this kind of love among Christian men! May they love each other for Christ’s sake, and because of the love of God which they see in each other, and may they be intense in their affection!

9. Jonathan’s love was very selfless; because, as I have said, Jonathan was heir-apparent to the throne, but David had been anointed king by Samuel. The kingdom was to be taken from the house of Saul, and given to the house of David. Very naturally, the young prince Jonathan might have felt first envy, and then hatred of David, who was to supplant him; but instead of that, he said to him one day, very touchingly, “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.” He meant to be his friend, and his helper, taking joy in seeing David wear the crown which might have adorned his own brow. Happy Jonathan, to be able to put himself in the background like that, and to feel that, if David was first, it was what he himself desired. That friendship, in which a man can set himself aside for the sake of another, is not yet so common that we can peddle it in the streets.

10. Jonathan’s was a love which bore up under all opposition, for he soon found that Saul, his father, in his black heart, hated David. He could not bear the thought that another man should take the place which he coveted for himself, though he did not himself deserve to keep it. He wished to see David dead; and because Jonathan took David’s part, Saul was extremely angry, and made Jonathan’s lot hard to bear; yet Jonathan did not break his friendship, he clung to David through good report and through evil report. Jonathan was faithful to his father, and very obedient to him; but still he would not give up his friend David, and he would sooner be in jeopardy of the javelin of Saul than end the friendship that existed between himself and God’s chosen servant.

11. And this love was very active, for you know how he pleaded for David with his father. He went out into the field, and took counsel with David. He arranged plans and methods for David’s preservation; and, on one occasion, we find that he “went to David in the woods, and strengthened his hand in God.” Yes, his love was not a matter of mere talk, it was real, practical, active; it was a love which never failed. When the arrow of the Philistine went through the heart of Jonathan on Mount Gilboa, it struck the name of David that was inscribed there.

    He loved him long, and loved him well,
       And loved him to the death;

so that David could truly say, “Your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women.”

12. Now, dear friends, do you not think that, when we read a story like that of Jonathan and David, it should stir up in us the desire, not so much to have such a friend, as to be such a friend as Jonathan was to David? Any man can selfishly desire to have a Jonathan; but he is on the right track who desires to find a David to whom he can be a Jonathan. There is great joy in life with real friendship on both sides. Some people expect friendship to be always heaping its treasures on them; but true friendship has two hands, and two feet, and two eyes. You cannot have a real friendship that is all for taking, and never for giving. David loved Jonathan as Jonathan loved David. May that blessed Spirit of God, who teaches us to love even our enemies, help us to cultivate sanctified friendships, and to be willing to help those who are our brethren in Christ in time of need!

13. I shall say no more on that part of my subject; but I hope it will rebuke some who are no friends at all. Oh, how often have we met such! They are very friendly when their legs are under your mahogany; but they are not so friendly when you have no mahogany, and have hardly any table left. They think all the world of you while you can be a ladder by which they climb the wall of prosperity; but when they are on the top of the wall, they too often say that they never saw that ladder in all their lives, and you may take it away. We continually see that kind of thing among men of the world. May it not be so among Christians! May we be true to all who are our friends, as we would be generous even to any who are our foes, if such people are in existence!

14. II. But I want now to talk about something more sweet, and more sure. THE LOVE OF CHRIST FOR ME, Using the first person pronoun, because it is in the text: “Your love for me was wonderful.”

15. I hope that many here will be helped to use that same pronoun for himself or herself. I do not wish to preach tonight; I want rather to be a kind of soldier, just to go through the exercises so that others may do the same. I am to speak of love which I trust many feel, which I hope they may feel even more than the speaker does; and let it be the ambition of every one of us to love Christ more and more. Let us think of Christ as present here tonight, for so he is, according to his promise, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” There he stands. With closed eyes, faith perceives him, and she cries, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

16. I think that we feel this most when we see our Saviour die. Sit down at the foot of the cross, and look up. Behold that sacred brow with the thorny wreath on it. See those blessed eyes, red with weeping; notice those nailed hands, that once scattered blessings; gaze on those bleeding feet, which hurried on errands of mercy; watch until you can peer into that gaping side, how deep the gash, how wide the breach, see how the water and the blood come streaming out! This is the Lord of life and glory, who dies amid derision and scorn, suffering the Just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Oh, if you can picture Christ on the cross, and believe that he died for you, you will be led to cry, “Your love for me was wonderful, surpassing the love of mothers or of wives. Your love for me was — I cannot describe what it was — it was wonder-ful — as full of wonders as the heavens are full of stars, or as a forest is full of leaves. Your love, as I see it in your death, was wonderful.” Do you picture David saying this as he thinks of the body of Jonathan pierced with the arrows of his enemies, “Your love for me was wonderful?” Will you not stand so tonight, in imagination, over your Saviour’s body, as you see it wrapped in spices, and laid in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea? Before the stone is even rolled to the cave’s mouth, will you not look on that mangled form, and say, “In very truth, your love for me was wonderful?”

17. Beloved friends, sometimes we feel as if our love for our departed ones would know another great flood-tide if they could come back again. You have lost — no, I will not harrow up your feelings, — you have all lost those most dear, and your sorrow was great as you laid them in the grave; but if tonight, when you reached your home, you should find, sitting in that room of yours, the beloved one has come back, I think that your love would suddenly leap up into an ecstasy, and it would be greater than it ever was before. “Has my husband returned to me? Has my spouse come back to me? Has my mother, my child, been restored to me?” Oh, what a feast of love our souls would have if there could be such a reunion in our bereaved households! Well, remember that he who died for us rose again.

    “He lives, the great Redeemer lives,”

lives with our love still within his heart, lives to love us as much in his eternal glory as he did in the shame and spitting while he was on earth. Come, give your love room and space tonight, as you remember him as dead, but rejoice in him as living.

18. I think, also, that we sometimes feel the greatest love for dear friends when we find others doing them despite. When David found that Jonathan’s body had been dishonoured by the Philistines, that they had taken away the bodies of King Saul and his sons to hang them on the wall of Bethshan, then he was severely troubled, and his love broke out again in sighs, and cries, and tears. And I must say tonight that I love my Lord all the more because of the insults others heap on him. When I have recently seen books written against his atoning sacrifice, when I meet men, calling themselves Christians, who speak lightly of the sacred expiation, and even of the divine Person of the great sacrifice, my heart first burns with indignation against the traitors, — true successors of Judas, — and then my soul cries, “My Saviour, by the dishonour that they put on you, I love you all the more. By the shame that they again cast on you, as though you were a hundred times crucified, I vow to serve you with a hundredfold energy and force of concentrated love, for your love for me was wonderful.” Some can speak lightly of Christ; maybe they never knew such love as he has shown to me. Some can despise his blood; possibly they were never washed from such sins as mine. Some think lightly of his faith; perhaps they have never had such communion with him as my heart has known; but I must say of him, “Your love for me was, is, and ever shall be, wonderful, surpassing all loves supposable in heaven or earth besides.”

19. Now let me briefly tell the story of that love, — it is a long story, — the love of Christ for me. Part of its wonder lies in the object of this love, that it should be bestowed on me: “Your love for me.” Dear brother, dear sister, will you only talk about it just now to yourself? “It is a wonder that Christ should love anyone; but is it not the greatest wonder of all that he should love me? Who am I, and what is my father’s house, that Christ should love me?”

    What was there in you that could merit esteem,
       Or give the Creator delight?

Your love for me! There was special demerit; there were many reasons why love should have passed me by; but your love for me was wonderful that you should single me out. Tell it in heaven that there is no greater wonder there than that Christ should love me; and when you get there, say to all the bright spirits before the throne, “There is no greater wonder in the salvation of you all than there is in my salvation. Your love for me, my Lord,” and you will bow adoringly at Christ’s feet as you say it, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

20. Then throw the emphasis on the first word, “Your love for me,” and you have another part of the wonder, that is, in the Giver of this love. For a man to love me, well, should not men love their kind? But for God to love me, for the Infinite, for the inconceivably lovely One, whose ideal of what is loveable must be far beyond human conception, for him to love me, this is a miracle indeed. Can you imagine it, that God who is greater than immensity, whose life is longer than time, that God the all-boundless One, should love you? That he should think of you, pity you, consider you, this is all very well; but that he should love you, that his heart should go out to you, that he should choose you, that he should have inscribed you on the palms of his hands, that he should not rest in heaven without you, that he should not think heaven complete until he brings you there, that you should be the bride, and Christ the Bridegroom, that there should be eternal love between him and you, oh, as you think of it, lift up your hands with adoring wonder, and say, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

21. Now begin, if you can, to consider the beginning of this love. When did God begin to love his own elect? There was a time when he began to make the worlds; but from eternity he has loved his chosen. Before the first flash of light illumined the primeval darkness, God loved his people. Before the first pulsation of life came into human bodies, long before there were such beings as men and women, he loved his own. He saw them in the telescope of predestination and foreknowledge, and he loved them then; his delights even then were with the sons of men. His love had no beginning, it was like himself, self-existent, starting from itself, and there never was a time when God did not love his own people. Think of that wonder of grace, that such a speck of dust as you are should have been loved from eternity, that such a handful of ashes as I am should have been loved from before all worlds! Tell it as with voice of trumpet, for God has said it, “I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”

22. Christ’s love, then, is wonderful in its beginning; and when it began to work on me, it was still wonderful, for what did I do? I refused it. When Christ came in robes of love for me, and presented himself as a candidate for my heart’s acceptance, I told him that I would not have him. There was a rebellious world that had my heart. There was the devil himself, in all manner of sinful forms; and he had my hand, and I was his. Was it not so with some of you, that Christ wooed you for many a year, and you would not have him? He came to you sometimes threatening, and sometimes inviting; he came to you by providences, by preachers, by books, by his good Spirit; yet though you turned your back on him, he never turned his back on you; he would not take “No” for an answer.

    Determined to save, he watched o’er my path
    When, Satan’s blind slave, I sported with death.

Think of a man, who used to come staggering out of a public house late at night, yet he is loved by God! Or of a thief, whose hair was cut short in the prison, yet he was loved by God, and here he is tonight sitting at Jesus’ feet, rejoicing in that love! Oh, what songs there will be in heaven concerning the love of Christ for his own, and the rebuffs which the dear Lover of our souls received by the sad, sad usage of ungodly, wilful men! “Your love for me was wonderful.”

23. And when Christ’s love led him to come here, and take our nature, was it not wonderful? He reigned enthroned in heaven; seraphim and cherubim gladly did his bidding. He was God, and yet he came down from that royal palace to that stable at Bethlehem, and to the manger where the horned oxen fed. It is he! It is he! But as George Herbert reminds us, he has unrobed himself, and hung his azure mantle on the sky, and all his rings on the stars; and there he lies, a babe in swaddling-bands, taking human nature into union with his divinity because he loved us. Truly, you blessed Child, whom I would take into my arms as Simeon did, and say, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word: for my eyes have seen your salvation”; your love for me was wonderful! Behold Christ with the sceptre of heaven in his hand, and then see him sitting on the edge of a well, talking to an adulterous woman. Gaze on him with the harps of angels ringing out his praise, and then see him with all the riff-raff of Jerusalem scoffing at him, and bidding him come down from the cross. If he stooped to become a man like ourselves, and stooped lower still, even to death, truly may each saved one cry to him, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

24. There is one thing that makes the love of Christ more wonderful than anything else, and that is, that he not only took our nature, but he took our sin. There, scrape it up together, the filthy stuff that has made God himself to sicken at the thought of man, I mean, the sin and the pollution of our lives. Behold, the Lord has gathered it up together in one foul heap, enough to putrefy the universe, and he has laid it all on Christ, and the great Sin Bearer takes it on himself as though it were his own, though it was not. He suffers for it, he bears the sentence of justice on account of it, and then he hurls it all away into the abyss of oblivion, where it shall never be found again. My Saviour, did you bare my sin in your own body on the tree? Were you condemned for my condemnation? Then, in very deed, your love for me was wonderful.

25. I do not know how to break my text up so as to bring it home to each believer; I wish that everyone here, who really has known Christ’s love, would help me by a personal thought on the brotherly and condescending character of this love. There were times when we, who love Christ’s name, have been in trouble, and he has been very near to us. There were times when we have been misrepresented, and abused, and he has smiled, oh, so sweetly on us! There were times when bodily pain has made us very faint, and he has put underneath us the everlasting arms. Speak as you find, beloved; how have you found the Lord Jesus in your dark days, in your heavy days, in your weary days? Have you not found him a matchless Friend? I can bear my own witness that there is no comfort like his comfort, there is no smile like his smile, there is no touch of help like his delivering hand. “Your love for me was wonderful.” Sometimes, when I have told the story of God’s goodness to me, a Christian friend has said, “Have you not written all that down?” “No, I have not,” I have replied. “Will you not take care, before you die, that it is all written down?” I have said, “No, I do not know that I shall.” Now perhaps your life’s story will die out with you, yet have there not been very marvellous touches of Christ’s love in it? Have there not been windows of agates, and gates of carbuncle, through which you have seen your Lord’s face; and can you not say tonight, looking over your pilgrim path from the first day until now, “Lord, you have always been with me; your love for me was wonderful in condescending, helpful fellowship in the time of my need?”

26. Think, also, of the comforting and thoughtful provisions of Christ’s love. Sometimes you have been almost slipping, not merely concerning trouble, but concerning sin. Our lives are not all to our credit; there have been sad moments, when unbelief has crept in on the back of thoughtlessness, and you have been almost a sceptic. There have been evil moments, when sin has insinuated itself into the imagination, and you have almost done what would have been your ruin. Have there not been times in your life when you have been struck, and, if there had not been some One to uphold you, you would have fallen, almost unconsciously fallen, and there have lain down to die? But oh, how Jesus has watched over you, and cared for you! Never a mother nursed her babe with such care as Christ has given to you. When you look back, sometimes, and see the pit from which you have been preserved, into which you might have fallen; when you meet some old friend, who used, years ago, to be singing at your side, but is now a drunkard or profane, and you say, “Why should he be like that any more than I should? Who has made me to differ? Only the grace of God has kept me until now.” Ah, then you see how Christ’s love for you has been wonderful, surpassing the love of women!

27. But the love of Christ for us is most of all wonderful in its plans for the future. You do not know, and you cannot conceive, what he will yet do for you. You are in trouble, are you? Well, joy comes in the morning. Just now, you have to drink the bitter cup, and God gives you pills that you do not like. Take them from his hand, for they are meant for your good. It is only a little while, and then sorrow and sighing shall flee away for ever. Has any redeemed man here any notion of what God has prepared for those who love him? You shall stand among the perfected, and go in and out among the holy. You shall be where no trouble shall ever reach you, or even the noise and dash of a wave of sorrow ever reach your ears. You shall be where it shall be your felicity to serve God without mistake, without transgression, and without omission. You shall behold the face of the King in his beauty, not now and then, but for ever without a cloud or a veil between. You shall find it your delight to praise him; and your voice shall be heard amid the choirs of the glorified as you adore the Lamb whose love for you has been so wonderful. And what will be your employments in heaven? Ah, that I cannot tell you; but they shall be employments that shall be equally honourable and delightful!

28. I have told you before what I sometimes dream shall be my lot in glory, not to stand here, and preach to a handful of people, though it is truly a large handful; but to stand on some starry orb, and preach of Christ to whole constellations at once, and thunder out my memories of his sweet love to myriads of beings who have never heard of him as yet, for they have never sinned, but who will drink in all the tidings of what Jesus did for sinful men. And each of you, according to your training for it, shall make known to angels, and principalities, and powers, the infinite wisdom of God. There is plenty of room for you all, for God’s universe will need millions and millions of messengers to go through it all, and proclaim the story of redeeming love. And we, I believe, are here in training for that eternal work of making known to illimitable regions of space, and countless myriads of intelligent beings whom God has created, but who have never fallen, the story of this little planet, and of the God who loved it so that he came here, and died so that he might save his people from their sins.

29. Get ready, brethren, for the eternity which is so near. Within about a hand’s breadth, you and I shall be in eternity. Even if we live to be eighty or ninety, or fulfil the tale of a hundred years, it is only a little while, and we shall have left these dark shores, and landed in the everlasting brightness of endless glory, that is, if we know the love of Christ today, and trust in Christ today. We shall go on and on for ever and for ever experiencing more and more of this great truth, “Your love for me was wonderful.”

30. Now let each one answer this question, — Can you say, “He loved me, and gave himself for me?” If not, you are an unhappy man. May God make you even more unhappy until you come and look to Jesus Christ, as men looked to the bronze serpent; and just as by their looking they were healed, so by your looking may you be made to live tonight! Remember that —

    There is life for a look at the Crucified One;
       There is life at this moment for thee;
    Then look, sinner — look unto him, and be saved —
       Unto him who was nail’d to the tree.
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Jesus Christ, His Praise — Jesus’ Love” 439}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus — ‘Who Loved Me, And Gave Himself For Me’ ” 797}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Privileges, Unchanging Love — ‘Lovest Thou Me?’ ” 735}

{a} Elegy: A song of lamentation, esp. a funeral song or lament for the dead. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {1Sa 20}

1. And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”

David had an enemy on the throne; and God gave him a friend in the heir to the throne. If you have an enemy, you have also a friend; God sets the one over against the other in his providence, set the one over against the other in your thoughts, and be comforted by it. David might have been very heavy-hearted about Saul, and so he was; but Jonathan came in to be the makeweight {a} on the other side, and turn the scale in favour of the son of Jesse. Of him David enquired, “What is my iniquity? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?”

2. And he said to him, “God forbid; you shall not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, that he will not show it to me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.”

One admires Jonathan for defending Saul; he will not believe anything bad about his father. Children should never believe anything evil about their parents unless it is forced on them; this rule is a part of the command, “Honour your father and your mother.”

3. And David swore moreover, and said, “Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes; and he says, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he is grieved’: but truly as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, there is only a step between me and death.”

He wanted Jonathan to believe the truth, namely, that Saul was seeking to kill him, and that he was in great danger from the wrath of the king; therefore he took a double oath that it was even so. It is not for Christians to imitate David in this respect, for our Lord’s command to his disciples is, “Do not swear at all; but let your communication be, ‘Yea, yea; Nay, nay’: for whatever is more than these comes of evil.”

4. Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever your soul desires, I will even do it for you.”

Love promises large things. One is reminded here of the love of Christ, and of how he says, “Ask what you wish, and it shall be done for you.”

5, 6. And David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new month, and I should not fail to sit with the king for dinner: but let me go, so that I may hide myself in the field to the third day at evening: If your father at all misses me, then say, ‘David earnestly asked permission from me so that he might run to Bethlehem his town: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.’

The family of David was a godly household, and they had a meeting, not for pleasure making, but for sacrifice; a special family gathering for worship, and David needed to be there. He spoke no untruth; he did desire to go to Bethlehem.

7, 8. If he says this, ‘It is well’; your servant shall have peace: but if he is very angry, then be sure that evil is determined by him. Therefore you shall deal kindly with your servant; for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you: notwithstanding, if there is iniquity in me, kill me yourself; for why should you bring me to your father?”

These two men had entered into a solemn covenant before God that they would be friends for life, so David pleaded with Jonathan. He was innocent, he knew that he had done no evil, and therefore he asked Jonathan, “If I am what your father thinks me to be, kill me yourself.”

9-11. And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come on you, then would I not tell you?” Then David said to Jonathan, “Who shall tell me? or what if your father answers you roughly?” And Jonathan said to David, “Come, and let us go out into the field.” And both of them went out into the field.

They were quite alone, away from their troops, where they could talk together without being overheard. These two good men sought private fellowship; and do you not think that, if we love Christ, we shall want to get alone with him? Shall we not say to him, “Let us go out into the field?” Where there is no private devotion, there is no devotion at all. If we never get alone with Christ, we are altogether strangers both to him and also to his love.

12-15. And Jonathan said to David, “Oh LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded out my father sometime tomorrow, or the third day, and, behold, if there is good toward David, and I then do not send to you, and show it; the LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it pleases my father to do you harm, then I will show it, and send you away, so that you may go in peace: and may the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. And you shall not only while I still live show me the kindness of the LORD, that I do not die: but also you shall not cut off your kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”

In Jonathan’s great love, he wished not only to be David’s friend himself, but that all his children should be in love with the same valiant hero. Brethren, our love for Christ makes us long to see our children love him too. I will not believe that you have any love for Christ unless you pray that your boys and your girls may also love him. Dear children of godly parents, our heart’s desire and prayer to God for you is, that you may love your mother’s God, and trust your father’s Saviour.

16-18. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.” And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the new month: and you shall be missed, because your seat will be empty.

David was not a nobody; if he was away, he was missed. I wish that all attendants at the house of prayer would remember that, when they are away, they are missed. Perhaps some of you have come tonight from some little chapel where you will be greatly missed; I am not going to thank you for coming here, because I am possibly unconsciously causing pain to your pastor, and I do not want to rob him of one of his sheep. David’s seat is empty tonight, and he will be missed.

19-23. And when you have stayed for three days, then you shall go down quickly, and come to the place where you hid yourself when the business was in hand, and shall remain by the stone Ezel. And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I expressly say to the lad, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, take them’; then come: for there is peace to you, and no harm; as the LORD lives. But if I say this to the young man, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you’; go your way: for the LORD has sent you away. And as for touching the matter which you and I have spoken of, behold, may the LORD be between you and me for ever.”

So be arranged how to let David know in case he was in danger. Love is thoughtful, love would keep its object out of harm’s way; therefore, as we love anyone, let us try to preserve them from sin, let us endeavour to warn them when temptation is near, so that they may not fall by the hand of the enemy.

24-27. So David hid himself in the field: and when the new month was come, the king sat down to eat. And the king sat on his seat, as at other times, even on a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul’s side, and David’s place was empty. Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day: for he thought, “Something has befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.” And it came to pass on next day, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why does the son of Jesse not come to eat, neither yesterday, nor today?”

David was the son of Jesse, but he was Saul’s own son-in-law; yet, out of contempt, the angry king calls him “the son of Jesse.”

28-30. And Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked for permission from me to go to Bethlehem: and he said, ‘Please let me go; for our family has a sacrifice in the town; and my brother has commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in your eyes, please let me go, and see my brethren.’ Therefore he does not come to the king’s table.” Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of the perverse rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness?

He was in such a passion that he began to abuse his own wife, the mother of his own son. In the East, if you want to sting a man most severely, give bad names to his mother; and surely, in the West as well, if anyone has anything to say against a man’s mother, it cuts her son to his heart if he is what he ought to be.

31.For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the ground, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Therefore now send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.”

Saul knew that David, and not Jonathan, was to succeed him on the throne. He gives Jonathan warning of that fact, yet seeks his rival’s life.

32. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, “Why shall he be killed? What has he done?”

Very reasonable questions, very properly put.

33-42. And Saul threw a spear at him to strike him: by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food on the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the appointed time with David, and a little lad with him. And he said to his lad, “Run, find now the arrows which I shoot.” And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” And Jonathan cried after the lad, “Make speed, hurry, do not delay.” And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master. But the lad did not know anything: only Jonathan and David knew the matter. And Jonathan gave his weapons to his lad, and said to him, “Go, carry them to the city.” And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place towards the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed each other, and wept with each other, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD be between me and you, and between my seed and your seed for ever.’ ” And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

Behold the love of Jonathan and David! Here was a brother born for adversity, who clung to his friend in the day of danger, and even risked his own life that he might defend David. Let us see here a faint emblem of what our great Friend, the Lord Jesus, has done for us.

{a} Makeweight: A comparatively small quantity added to make up a certain weight. OED.



Jesus Christ, His Praise
439 — Jesus’ Love <7s.>
1 Sweet the theme of Jesus’ love!
   Sweet the theme all themes above;
   Love unmerited and free,
   Our triumphant song shall be.
2 Love, so vast that nought can bound;
   Love, too deep for thought to sound;
   Love, which made the Lord of all
   Drink the wormwood and the gall.
3 Love, which led him to the cross,
   Bearing there unutter’d loss;
   Love, which brought him to the gloom
   Of the cold and darksome tomb.
4 Love which made him hence arise
   Far above the starry skies,
   There with tender, loving care,
   All his people’s griefs to share.
5 Love, which will not let him rest
   Till his chosen all are blest;
   Till they all for whom he died
   Live rejoicing by his side.
                     Albert Midlane, 1864, a.


The Christian, Privileges, Communion with Jesus
797 — “Who Loved Me, And Gave Himself For Me” <8.8.6.>
1 Oh Love divine, how sweet thou art!
   When shall I find my willing heart
      All taken up by thee?
   I thirst, I faint, I die to prove
   The greatness of redeeming love,
      The love of Christ to me!
2 Stronger his love than death or hell;
   Its riches are unsearchable:
      The first-born sons of light
   Desire in vain its depths to see;
   They cannot reach the mystery,
      The length, and breadth, and height.
3 God only knows the love of God:
   Oh that it now were shed abroad
      In this poor stony heart;
   For love I sigh, for love I pine:
   This only portion, Lord, be mine,
      Be mine this better part.
4 Oh that I could for ever sit
   With Mary at the Master’s feet;
      Be this my happy choice:
   My only care, delight, and bliss,
   My joy, my heaven on earth, be this,
      To hear the Bridegroom’s voice.
                        Charles Wesley, 1746.


The Christian, Privileges, Unchanging Love
735 — “Lovest Thou Me?” <7s.>
1 Hark, my soul! it is the Lord;
   ‘Tis thy Saviour, hear his word;
   Jesus speaks, and speaks to thee:
   “Say, poor sinner, lov’st thou me?
2 “I deliver’d thee when bound,
   And, when bleeding, heal’d thy wound;
   Sought thee wand’ring, set thee right,
   Turn’d thy darkness into light.
3 “Can a woman’s tender care
   Cease toward the child she bare?
   Yes, she may forgetful be,
   Yet will I remember thee.
4 “Mine is an unchanging love,
   Higher than the heights above:
   Deeper than the depths beneath,
   Free and faithful, strong as death
5 “Thou shalt see my glory soon,
   When the work of grace is done:
   Partner of my throne shall be,
   Say, poor sinner, lov’st thou me?”
6 Lord, it is my chief complaint,
   That my love is weak and faint;
   Yet I love thee and adore —
   Oh for grace to love thee more!
                     William Cowper, 1771.

Spurgeon Sermons

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