Why Jonathan Died
By: Deji Yesufu
Jonathan was the first child of Saul, the first king of Israel. Two incidents in the Bible gives us a glimpse of his dexterity, boldness and proficiency at battle. It was an incident in 1 Samuel 14 when Jonathan and his armor bearer faced the philistines. In one bust of attack, the two of them had killed 20 abled men. I believe this incident was not necessarily a miracle but a pointer at how good the son of Saul was at war. When Jonathan died and David gave him a tribute in 2 Samuel 1, David referred to Jonathan and Saul as eagles and lions at battles – whose swords never went back. If the Almighty God had not destined that the two will die that day, naturally speaking there were very few men who could match these two in a one-on-one fight in those days. Jonathan was this good but he died because he made a choice that cost him his life. This is what happened.
After David had defeated Goliath, Jonathan took a liking for him and they became best friends. Their relationship was somewhat strange so much that I read somewhere that they were practicing homosexuals. This commentary is however false, and it is one that is peddled by so called gay Christians. David did say that the love between them both was more than the love for women. But that expression is only an hyperbole pointing at the deep affection between the two. So while Jonathan loved David, Saul was beginning to develop hate towards him. Eventually Saul sought to kill David and Jonathan will confirm this to be true and then the day came that Jonathan needed to make the decision that will determine his future.
Jonathan met up with David in an open field and made this statement:
1 Samuel 20:13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the LORD be with thee, as he hath been with my father. 20:14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not: 20:15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the LORD hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth. 20:16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David’s enemies.
Jonathan will learn with time that Saul, his father, sort to kill David. In this manner, Jonathan recognized that Saul had become an enemy of David. And from his own mouth, he confirmed the prophecy, which likely must have come from the mouth of Samuel, which most of Israel knew: that one day God will cut off all the enemies of David and David will be king. The day came when he, Jonathan, ought to have chosen between David and his enemies but he chose to side with the enemies of David. He met up with David in the field, spoke kindly to him and allowed David to go into the mountains while he returned to the king’s palace: to a place of security. At the time, it appeared David had nothing; but he had God. Jonathan died the very day he left David on the field and returned to his home. He probably had an incline of this, thus requesting David to show kindness to his household when God would have destroyed all of David’s enemies. A promise David kept eventually.
Here is a fact of life: in war, there are no sitting on the fence. You either join up with the Lord’s enemies or you join up with the men siding with God. And since God will prevail ultimately, it is safer to side with the people on the Lord’s side. Wars are being waged in life every day and each day we decide to choose life or death. Those who choose the path dictated by the word of the Lord will prevail eventually. At first, they may not have much. They may be poor, homeless and ragtag. But it is the smallest thing for God to make an army out of a bag of skeletons.
One day Joshua saw a man outside the city of Jericho (Joshua 5). The man had a sword in his hand. This was the time Israel was about entering the promised land and they were required to wage wars to claim the land where they will live. Joshua then asked the man if he was with them or with their enemies. The man said he was with neither: that he was simply the commander of the Lord’s army. Immediately Joshua fell on his face and worshipped this man and asked what must he do. That man was the pre-incarnate Christ (angels do not accept worship of men), who had come to the earth to wage God’s battles. Joshua understood that to be on the Lord’s side, he must obey the counsel of God – therefore he requested what he must do. Obedience to God is the only path to victory in the wars of this life.
In the larger picture of life, it is possible to conjecture that God destined Jonathan to end in the manner he did. But even the most committed Calvinist understands that the outcome of our lives cannot be separated from the decisions we make day by day. Eventually David gathered an army around himself – these were men who were poor and themselves outcasts of the society. The wealthy and the comfortable chose to stay with Saul, despite knowing that Saul was an enemy of God and that when God eventually brings his wrath on his enemies, they also will be partakers of Saul’s sins. If they had actually believed that God will cut off all of David’s enemies one day, they would have left the comfort of their homes and joined David in the stronghold. Eventually Jonathan went to war with Saul and lost his life in the process.
This essay is a parable: may the Lord give ears to those who have ability to hear. Amen.