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A Practical Commentary On Holy Scripture by Frederick Justus Knecht D.D.

[1 Kings 18]

WHEN David returned from the slaying of the Philistine, Saul called for him and asked: “Young man, of what family art thou?” Then David related all about his family and about himself. Now Jonathan, the eldest son of Saul, was standing by and listened to the words of David; and when David had made an end of speaking, Jonathan began to love him as his own soul. There was a custom for friends to exchange garments; so Jonathan took his coat and gave it to David. He took his sword, and his bow, and his girdle, and gave them also to David.

Now when David returned home with Saul, after having slain Goliath, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, with flutes and cymbals, and they sang: “Saul slew his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Hearing this Saul was angry, and ever after regarded David as his rival. Next day Saul was again troubled by the evil spirit, and whilst David played the harp before him, the king threw a spear at him hoping to nail him to the wall.

David, however, stepped aside and avoided the blow. Some time after David was appointed by Saul captain over a thousand men. He was moreover promised Michol, the king’s daughter, in marriage, if he killed a hundred Philistines. By this proposal Saul hoped to get rid of David, thinking that he would never be able to fulfil the conditions, but that he would be slain by the Philistines. Saul, however, was disappointed, for David slew two hundred of the enemy, and thereby gained the affection of the whole people. This unexpected success of David enraged Saul more than ever.

Blinded by passion, Saul ordered Jonathan, his son, to kill David. But Jonathan, knowing David’s innocence and virtue and loving him exceedingly, gave warning to him and said: “My father seeketh to kill thee; wherefore look to thyself, and abide in a secret place, and thou shalt be hid.” David listened to his advice and remained hidden in the fields.

One day, however, when Saul was in a better humour than usual, Jonathan said to him: “Sin not, O king! against thy servant David, because he has not sinned against thee, and his works are very good towards thee. Why, therefore, wilt thou sin against innocent blood?”

Saul was appeased by these words of Jonathan, and swore that David should not be slain. And Jonathan brought David again into his father’s presence, and Saul was gracious to him as he had been before. At this time, however, war was renewed against the Philistines, and David went out against them and defeated them with great slaughter.

Then the evil spirit came back upon Saul, who tried to pierce David with his spear as he played upon the harp; but David warded off the blow and fled. Jonathan, however, took occasion once again to speak to his father in behalf of David. But Saul was angry and blamed his son for his affection for the son of Isai, who was supplanting him with the people.

He told Jonathan that so long as David lived, he could have no hope of ascending the throne. “Therefore now presently send and fetch him to me, for he is the son of death.” Jonathan asked: “Why shall he die? What hath he done?” And Saul, being enraged at Jonathan, took his spear to strike him. But Jonathan escaped and fled to David’s hiding-place, in order to warn him against returning to the court. The two friends then embraced each other, wept together, and before parting, renewed their vow of friendship in the name of God.

Envy. Saul was avowedly the tallest man in Israel, but he had not the courage to face Goliath, because he had no confidence in God. He ought to have been all the more grateful to David for freeing him and all Israel from this proud and overbearing enemy. But because the people praised David more than they praised himself, he allowed a hateful envy to take possession of his heart. From this time he disliked him, and was suspicious and distrustful of the noble-minded David. See how ungrateful and unjust envy makes a man!

True friendship, David and Jonathan were knit together by a real, true, noble friendship. Jonathan loved David for his good qualities, his piety, courage, modesty &c. He loved him “as his own soul”, though he knew that David, and not he, was destined to succeed Saul as king. He remained true to his friend in his adversity, and did everything that he could to help him. David responded with all his heart to the love of the king’s son. When Jonathan died, David tore his clothes for grief, wept bitterly and expressed his sorrow in the most moving words. A true and noble friend is a great treasure; therefore Holy Scripture says: “Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and they that fear the Lord shall find him” (Ecclus. 6:15, 16). True friendship can only exist between good people. He who is not faithful to God and does not love and fear Him, will only be faithful to his friend as long as he hopes to gain something by his friendship. Friendship and intercourse with the good exercise an ennobling and elevating influence, but intercourse with the wicked is a great source of danger both to faith and morals. “Evil communications corrupt good manners.”

APPLICATION. You should be friendly with all your school-fellows, but make friends of the good only. How has it been with you hitherto? Have you taken pleasure in being with bad companions? Many a good child has been corrupted and led into committing grievous sins by associating and making friends with bad children. Therefore, form friendships with only good and well-behaved children, and avoid anything like intimacy with bad children.








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