Let’s read 1st Samuel 31:1-2, “Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and THE PHILISTINES KILLED JONATHAN and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul” (NKJV). We see clearly in this passage that “the Philistines killed Jonathan.” Did God ALLOW it to happen? He surely did. But God did not directly intervene in Jonathan’s life and cause his death.

Why did Jonathan die on that fateful day? In order to answer that question, let’s consider Jonathan’s relationship with David. After David defeated Goliath (the champion of the Philistines) Jonathan’s heart was won over to David. We read of this in 1st Samuel 18:1-4, “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that THE SOUL OF JONATHAN WAS KNIT TO THE SOUL OF DAVID, AND JONATHAN LOVED HIM AS HIMSELF. Saul took him (David) that day and did not let him return to his father’s hose. Then JONATHAN MADE A COVENANT WITH DAVID BECAUSE HE LOVED HIM AS HIMSELF. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armour, including his sword and his bow and his belt.” The actions described here reveal the friendship that was formed between Jonathan and David. The bond between them was so close that Jonathan was willing to strip himself of his own royal robe and give it to David; in other words, he was willing to give up his right to the throne and to recognize that David was the Lord’s choice to be king over Israel.

As we read on in Jonathan’s history we see that his love for David remained constant, even when his father began to persecute David and seek to take his life. Let’s read the verses that you were no doubt thinking of. They are found in 1st Samuel 19:1-3, “Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants to put David to death. But JONATHAN, Saul’s son, GREATLY DELIGHTED IN DAVID. So Jonathan told David, ‘Saul my father is seeking to put you to death…be on guard in the morning and stay in a secret place and hide yourself. I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak with my father about you’.” In verses 4-5 Jonathan reminded his father of David’s good deeds, including his victory over Goliath, and his words resulted in Saul’s anger and jealously subsiding against David. But Saul’s anger returned time and time again, yet in each instance Jonathan defended David, even though Saul’s anger then turned on him. In 1st Samuel 20:30-31 we read, “Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan and he said to him, ‘You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.” Jonathan tried to persuade his father to let David live, but his words fell on deaf ears. From that point on David was an outcast from the house of Saul and had to hide from Saul who tried again and again to kill him.

We just stated that David was an outcast. What about Jonathan? Ah, dear reader, here is where we see Jonathan’s “Achilles heel.” Instead of “following David in his rejection”, Jonathan chose to “remain with his father.” Listen to these sad words in 1st Samuel 20:42, “Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever’. Then he rose and departed, WHILE JONATHAN WENT INTO THE CITY.” Jonathan made a terrible choice, for he went back to the royal court to be with his father instead of remaining with David in the place of rejection. He saw David once more before he died (see 23:16-18) and once again we read, “David stayed in the woods, and JONATHAN WENT TO HIS OWN HOUSE.” His choice proved to be fatal, for as we saw in the beginning he died with his father on Mount Gilboa by the hand of the Philistines. (293.1) (DO)