Jonathan reminds me of John the Baptiser.
John had a great following; he was the centre of popular interest and intrigue until Jesus came on the scene. However, instead of becoming jealous John realised that the One in front of him was far greater than him – this was the King of kings and Lord of lords. So when some of John’s disciples warned him that his followers were forsaking him and following Jesus, John replied, He (Jesus) must become greater, I must become less.
Jonathan recognised David as the successor to Saul’s throne. That meant that he, Jonathan, would never ascend the Throne of Israel – the greatest honour and privilege in the world. Jonathan never showed any jealousy or enmity towards David; on the contrary, he freely admitted that David would be king and did all he could to protect him from Saul, and promote David’s good.
However, because Jonathan felt he knew and understood David’s heart he was able to express his own desires – not for power or position but for the health and well-being of his relatives.
Jonathan was a man of peace but saw in his father the traits of an envious and destructive character. He witnessed first-hand the results of deceitful scheming – when Saul, in trying to have David killed, issued David with both a carrot and a potential death sentence. “You can have Michal, my daughter, the Princess’s hand in marriage and become my son-in-law provided you first ‘kill’ 100 Philistines.”
David, the young giant-killer, thought nothing of the danger but accomplished the task, and so became Jonathan’s brother-in-law.
Although David may have been a valiant warrior, giant slayer, and passionate husband, Jonathan also realised that David was human and vulnerable, and likely to be pressured by many once he became king.
Who knew what would happen? David was already experiencing Saul’s wrath and had to escape from his totally unjustified murderous intents. It would have been only natural for David to feel aggrieved and revengeful at the treatment he was receiving from the royal household – he may well have been planning a suitable retaliation once he became king. After all, kings can do what they like, can’t they?
When Jonathan met David, he re-iterated his longing for all David’s enemies to be totally eliminated and for David’s kingdom to be established. However, no doubt, even as he spoke out so vehemently, he began to realise that many of David’s enemies then were, in fact, members of the royal household. No wonder he quickly inserted the family protection clause.
Whilst David appeared to have harboured no bitterness towards Saul or the royal family, nevertheless Jonathan wanted to ensure that David maintained that stance after he was dead. He thus asked David to promise to look after the rest of the family once he came to power.
David readily agreed – as far as he was concerned it was only Saul who was out to get him and that was because he was plagued by a demon.
How very hard and embarrassing it must have been for Jonathan. Not only to have Saul as his incompetent and misguided father but, on top of that, to then have to grovel before the anointed future king to protect his relatives, knowing that none of them were saints. It was just another demonstration of Jonathan’s humility and love.