In literature analysis, it’s always interesting to back off a bit from the main character and plot of a story and try to see the story line through the eyes of another character… This morning in my Bible reading I found myself doing that as I read 1 Samuel 20… How Saul made it clear his intent was to kill David and how Jonathan helped David.
Listen… It’s not easy to be a Jonathan! Here you are, heir to the throne by birth. Your father has messed up and the prophet has predicted the throne would be torn from his line and given to another, more deserving person. You’ve demonstrated your courage, battle readiness and leadership skills with great victories over the enemy. (read 1 Samuel 14) And then along comes this “shepherd boy” David that no one really knew and everyone goes “google eyed” over him. Worse yet, it appears he enjoys “the favor of the Lord” and suddenly you’re off the radar. I mean it’s tough to be a Johnathan!
I have to tell you, I’m blown away by the graciousness, great-heartedness, guilelessness and just outright goodness of Jonathan! It takes a person of character to do what Johnathan did. He recognized the hand of God on this emerging leader and honors it despite the fact that no one is noticing what he has to offer. He forges a friendship with David – a friendship so deep and real the Bible says “he loved David as he loved his own soul” – a covenantal relationship. Jonathan is self-effacing – willing to protect and promote David at great personal risk. Without Jonathan, David is probably DEAD! I tell you, it’s not easy being a “Jonathan type person!”
Perhaps you have skills and abilities… You’ve had opportunities for advancement and position and have been overlooked and someone else less deserving (in your opinion) was chosen. It hurts a bit… no, maybe it hurts a lot! Big question… Can you be a Jonathan? Do you have the character to pull it off? Are you willing to make someone else look good and succeed even at personal cost? Tough one, eh?
Reminds me of a New Testament exhortation and challenge from Apostle Paul: He said, “Make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:2-8 NIV)
Yes, it’s tough to be a good “Jonathan!” … Here’s my prayer: Lord, when it’s time for me to fill that role, help me to do it with grace and character… with all my heart! May I do it well!