THE CHOOSING OF DAVID AND THE FRIENDSHIP OF JONATHAN
1 Samuel 16:1 – 20:42
God (and Samuel, the prophet and judge) has had enough. It’s time for King Saul to go, and a new king to be chosen for Israel. God sends Samuel to Bethlehem, to Jesse’s house, to find a king from among Jesse’s sons. Much to Samuel’s surprise, God chooses David, the scrawny shepherd.
About this time, God puts Saul in a really foul mood. To make him feel better, Saul orders his servants to find him a skilled musician to play the harp for him. As it just so happens, one of the servants knows of a boy David who is an excellent musician and, completely oblivious to the fact that David is going to be the next king, brings the boy before Saul. David’s music works, and Saul is so impressed, he keeps David around.
Eventually, the Philistines become a threat to Israel and Saul goes out to battle. Enter Goliath the giant, champion of the Philistines. David, visiting his brothers on the front lines, decides to challenge Goliath. With one stone’s throw, the giant is killed, causing the Philistines to flee in terror. Saul is greatly impressed by the boy (again), but even more impressed is Jonathan, Saul’s son. Jonathan and David become intimately close friends that day.
Word spreads of David’s battle prowess and he becomes incredibly popular with the people. This annoys Saul, who is jealous of David’s popularity. Saul falls into such bad moods that he tries, on multiple occasions, to have David killed or to kill him himself. Jonathan continually intercedes on David’s behalf, and sometimes manages to convince his father to cool off. But Saul always eventually remembers his hatred for David. He tries to get Jonathan to kill David, but Jonathan refuses, still shocked that his father would try to kill his best friend, and David escapes again. Saul gets so angry that he even tries to take his own son’s life.
Now convinced beyond doubt that Saul will stop at nothing to see David dead, Jonathan sneaks away to warn his friend. The two share a bittersweet parting, and David runs into the wilderness, neither of them sure if they will ever see each other again.
1. “God does not view things the way men do. People look on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). What qualities do you think God looks for when calling someone? How do you think David, the “runt”, felt when he was chosen above his brothers? How do you think his brothers felt?
2. “Now the Spirit of the LORD had turned away from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.” (1 Samuel 16:14). Do you believe God sends evil spirits to people? Justify your position.
3. David vs Goliath: Along with the story about the wife of Uriah, this is perhaps the most well-known story about David. Read the whole story, 1 Samuel 17. What did you read that you had never heard before? How does that change your perception of the story? Is there a justice issue behind this “big man / little man” fight?
4. “Jonathan made a covenant with David, for he loved him as much as he did his own life. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with the rest of his gear, including his sword, his bow, and even his belt.” (1 Saumel 18:3-4) David and Jonathan have a difficult relationship—they love each other more than their own lives, yet Jonathan’s father wants to kill David. What does that say about their relationship? Have you ever experienced a friendship like this?
5. “When the servant had left, David got up from beside the mound, knelt with his face to the ground, and bowed three times. Then they kissed each other and they both wept, especially David. Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, for the two of us have sworn together in the name of the LORD saying, ‘The LORD will be between me and you and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’’ Then David got up and left, while Jonathan went back to the city.” (1 Samuel 20:41-42). This is almost the last time Jonathan and David will ever see each other. What does it feel like to lose a friend?
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