David finds Jonathan and asks him, “What have I done? What is my iniquity, and what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” David didn’t do anything except try to help Saul and the kingdom with the gifts and skills given to him by the Lord. The wisdom writer will later say “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones” (Proverbs 14:30), and “Wrath is cruel, anger is overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?” (Proverbs 27:4). Saul, who is sick with envy, wants to hunt down and kill David. But who can stand before jealousy? A man standing with the Lord. However, it isn’t always easy, as we will see with David.
Jonathan tells David he will find out if Saul is still trying to kill him. Then Jonathan says, “And you shall not only show me the kindness of the Lord while I still live, that I may not die; but you shall not cut off your kindness from my house forever.” David will later honor this vow when he shows kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth. “Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.” Jonathan is a man who understands what Jesus will later command – “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 12:31).
Saul doesn’t understand Jonathan’s loyalty to David, so he says to his son, “For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” But Jonathan is not all about Jonathan as he lays down his own rights to the kingdom for David. Jonathan can love David and be his best friend without jealousy because he is a man who trusts the Lord and His plans. So Jonathan reports back to David his dad’s intent to kill him. “Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’”
David, on the run again, goes to a priest named Ahimelech in Nob. Instead of trusting the Lord and being truthful, David lies to the priest and says that he is there on secret business for the king, and he asks for some bread. “So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away.” Jesus will later use this story of giving the holy bread to David in a time of need to rebuke the Pharisees who are beating people over the head with the law (Mark 2:23-28). Ahimelech also gives David the sword of Goliath, and then David flees to Achish the king of Gath.
David, who is now hiding out in Gath, begins to fear the king of Gath when the people start to recognize him, so he acts like a madman to spare his life. The king of Gath drives David away, and then David praises the Lord – “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”
David waivers in his faith and resorts to scheming, but the Lord is always faithful to his people, just like David says – “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous shall be condemned. The Lord redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.”
David can call himself righteous because his righteousness is not based on his actions – it is based on his faith in the Lord. However, there are always consequences for our actions, whether good or bad, as we will see tomorrow when Doeg, Saul’s servant who saw David meeting with Ahimelech, reports the David sighting to Saul. Keep reading to see how Saul responds to the kindness that Ahimelech showed David. (1 Samuel 20:1-21:15, Psalm 34)