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I Samuel Chapter 20


Memory verses for this week: Joel 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

Introduction: We continue our study on Samuel this week. In last weekís lesson, we studied about Saulís third attempt to kill David. As before, God protected him and kept Saul from harming David. Davidís wife Micah helped him to escape Saulís attempts on his life.


  1. Jonathan Protects David

1 Sam 20:1 And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan, What have I done? what is mine iniquity? and what is my sin before thy father, that he seeketh my life?

1 Sam 20:2 And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will show it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so.

David asks Jonathan why Saul was determined to kill him. Jonathan at this time did not really believe that his father wanted to kill him. Due to some of the other things Saul had said, Jonathan thought that Saul would have told him his intentions if he did want to kill him. In verse 2, he says ďIt is not so.Ē

1 Sam 20:3 And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death.

1 Sam 20:4 Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee.

David told Jonathan the reason Saul had not told him of his plans was because he knew they were friends. If he told Jonathan, then he would warn him. David likened his life as just one step between him and death. Jonathan agrees to do whatever David desired.

1 Sam 20:5 And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.

1 Sam 20:6 If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family.

1 Sam 20:7 If he say thus, It is well; thy servant shall have peace: but if he be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.

1 Sam 20:8 Therefore thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast brought thy servant into a covenant of the LORD with thee: notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why shouldest thou bring me to thy father?

In these verses we have the plan of David to know how determined Saul was to put him to death. Davidís plan was to be absent from the kingís house for three days. The following day was the new moon and David was supposed to sit at the kingís table and eat meat. The come up with a plan that if Saul missed David, then Jonathan was to tell him that David had requested permission to go to Bethlehem and it had been granted. David supposedly went to Bethlehem to attend a yearly sacrifice for he and his family. Of course this was not true, but was a lie that they created. If Saul accepted their story, then all would be well. If he became angry, Jonathan would then know that Saul had intentions on killing David. David asked Jonathan to deal kindly with him on account of the covenant that they had sworn by the Lord one to another. David is so sure of his innocence that he asks Jonathan to kill him if he found any iniquity in him.

1 Sam 20:9 And Jonathan said, Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would not I tell it thee?

1 Sam 20:10 Then said David to Jonathan, Who shall tell me? or what if thy father answer thee roughly?

1 Sam 20:11 And Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.

1 Sam 20:12 And Jonathan said unto David, O LORD God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about to morrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and show it thee;

1 Sam 20:13 The LORD do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will show 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.

1 Sam 20:14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live show me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:

1 Sam 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.

David inquires how he might find the answer from Jonathan concerning Saulís attitude toward him. Jonathan swore by the name of the Lord that he would sound out his fatherís intentions concerning David. On the third day he would inform him whether they were good or bad. If they were evil, he would send David away in peace. Jonathan called on David to swear that he would do good to Jonathan in his lifetime. David and Jonathan swore to each other and each was willing to give his life if necessary for the other.


II. Jonathanís Instructions to David

1 Sam 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.

1 Sam 20:17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.

1 Sam 20:18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.

1 Sam 20:19 And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.

1 Sam 20:20 And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.

1 Sam 20:21 And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the LORD liveth.

1 Sam 20:22 But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the LORD hath sent thee away.

1 Sam 20:23 And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the LORD be between thee and me for ever.

Jonathan explains the plan at Saulís table and his message to David at the end of three days. David was to go to the rock Ezel on the third day and Jonathan would appear there to give the message. He would bring three arrows and shoot them. He would then instruct a lad to fetch them back. It Jonathan said they were on the left, then it would mean that all was well with Saul. But if he said ďThe arrows are beyond theeĒ, then David was to flee for Saul had evil intentions against him. They parted with Jonathanís statement, ďThe Lord be between thee and me for ever.Ē


1 Sam 20:24 So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat.

1 Sam 20:25 And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.

1 Sam 20:26 Nevertheless Saul spake not any thing that day: for he thought, Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean.

1 Sam 20:27 And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday, nor to day?

1 Sam 20:28 And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem:

1 Sam 20:29 And he said, Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away, I pray thee, and see my brethren. Therefore he cometh not unto the king's table.

While David hid in the field, Jonathan carried out the plan. He first day of Davidís absence, Saul did not say anything. He thought that David could not come because of uncleanness in his body. On the second day, Saul inquired of Jonathan as to why David had not attended the meal and occupy his place at the table. Jonathan tells Saul about the sacrifice that David went to make for his family at Bethlehem. Saul became very angry. He accuses Jonathan of choosing David to Saulís own hurt and to the shame of his mother.

1 Sam 20:30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?

1 Sam 20:31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.

1 Sam 20:32 And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?

1 Sam 20:33 And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.

1 Sam 20:34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame.

Jonathan asks Saul why he should kill an innocent man. At this statement, Saul seized his javelin and tries to kill Jonathan with it. Jonathan was in shock and spent that day in great grief and fasting. On the third day, he came with the little boy and sent the message to David who was hid near by. David arose and bowed three times in respect to Jonathan.


III. David Is Sent Away by Jonathan

1 Sam 20:35 And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.

1 Sam 20:36 And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.

1 Sam 20:37 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 thee?

1 Sam 20:38 And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.

1 Sam 20:39 But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.

1 Sam 20:40 And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.

1 Sam 20:41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.

1 Sam 20:42 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 thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.

The lad did not know of Jonathanís and Davidís covenant. David is sent away from the house of Saul. This began the wandering of David as he hid from Saul for several years. In verse 42, Jonathan told David to go in peace. The covenant that David and Jonathan made would remain between their seed forever. Years later, David blessed the house of Saul for Jonathanís sake. Mephibosheth ate at Davidís table.

2 Sam 9:1 And David said, Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?

2 Sam 9:2 And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he.

2 Sam 9:3 And the king said, Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king, Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet.

2 Sam 9:6 Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!

2 Sam 9:7 And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely show thee kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.

2 Sam 9:8 And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?

2 Sam 9:9 Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house.

2 Sam 9:10 Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat bread alway at my table. Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.

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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

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