Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jonathan: A Model Disciple

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Study 17 --- 1 Samuel 20:1-21:9

John Woodhouse, the principal of Moore College in Sydney, Australia has written a wonderful and readable commentary on 1 Samuel. Woodhouse shows how Jonathan is portrayed in 1 Samuel as the model disciple of the future king. Jonathan exemplifies the words of Jesus spoken a thousand years after David:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

First, notice Jonathan’s love and commitment to David, the future king --- a love that involved the forsaking of family and self:

20:1 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” 2 And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” 3 But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the LORD lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” 4 Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 5 David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. 6 If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. 8 Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the LORD with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” 9 And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11 And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

Jonathan’s ultimate commitment is to the Lord and his anointed king. Jonathan will not fight God’s plan. He sides with the Lord and his Christ, even if this means conflict with his father. Peace with the Lord and David mean more to him than peace with his father.

Jonathan also places God’s kingdom and choice ahead of himself. Jonathan was next in line to be king, and yet he was willing to relinquish his crown because of his love for the Lord and David. By faith he saw that David was God’s choice, and he gladly accepted and welcomed God’s plan, even if it meant personal loss. He exemplified what it means that a disciple of Christ hate his own life.

Second, notice how Jonathan sees the future king and kingdom, pleads for mercy, and seeks that kingdom:

12 And Jonathan said to David, “The LORD, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13 But should it please my father to do you harm, the LORD do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the LORD be with you, as he has been with my father. 14 If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the LORD, that I may not die; 15 and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the LORD cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 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.

By faith Jonathan saw that David would be king, despite present appearances. Jonathan’s faith is remarkable, for it is not based on what he sees. Human wisdom and political insight would give David little chance of becoming king. David is in deep trouble. Saul has already tried to kill him numerous times. Now he is about to begin a period of time as a fugitive on the run from Saul.

And yet, Jonathan is so sure David will be king that he pleads for mercy from David. The crown prince humbles himself before David in verses 14 and 15 to plead for mercy that he might not die when David becomes king. He also pleads for the lives of his descendents.

By faith Jonathan also sees that David’s kingdom will last forever, and all of David’s enemies will be cut off forever. Considering David’s present, humble circumstances, it is an amazing insight. The Lord opened Jonathan’s eyes to see things as he sees them!

Dear friends, we are in the same situation as Jonathan. When we look around the world with all of its turmoil and tribulations and unbelief there is little reason to believe that Jesus Christ will win. It appears that the United States is the world’s superpower, not Jesus. The nightly news is not discussing the future reign of Jesus and our need to be right with him---our need to plead for mercy from him before his kingdom is established finally and fully.

But by faith we see that Jesus is already on the throne ruling over all of the earth’s inhabitants. This resurrected Lord rules now in the midst of his enemies. He is despised and opposed by a world that seeks its own petty kingdoms rather than his everlasting kingdom.

Some serve the kingdoms of this world, like the United States; some serve self; some serve pleasure; some serve money; some serve tradition; some serve false religions. But those with true faith see that Jesus is God’s chosen, resurrected king, and that there is an urgent need to seek his mercy and kingdom now, before we meet him at death or at his return.

Third, notice how Christ’s disciples are hated by the world:

30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a 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? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.

David was accustomed to hearing Saul’s spear whistling by his ear. Now Jonathan shares the same experience as his king. If Jonathan was skeptical of his father’s irrational hatred of David, this incident stripped away his skepticism once and for all!

There was no reason that Saul should’ve hated David. David had done Saul only good. David had fought and defeated the king’s real enemies, the Philistines. But sin is irrational.

There is no reason for the world to hate Jesus. Jesus has done the world only good. Jesus has fought and defeated humanity’s true enemies: sin, death, and eternal judgment. But sin is irrational.

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours” (John 15:18-20).

If you want to live an easy life with no conflicts, following Jesus is not for you. Following Jesus brings us into conflict with fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters. It also means that we fight a battle with self, as we learn to die to our own little kingdoms in order to seek Christ’s kingdom and righteousness.

And yet, following Jesus is surely worth it, because Jesus and his kingdom are eternal and glorious. Long after this world has passed away, Christ and his kingdom will continue. To have our souls united forever in love to Jesus Christ, who is altogether glorious, is surely our glory!

Matthew 13:41-43: "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

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