1 Samuel 20
Good News Translation
Jonathan Helps David
20 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and went to Jonathan. “What have I done?” he asked. “What crime have I committed? What wrong have I done to your father to make him want to kill me?”
2 Jonathan answered, “God forbid that you should die! My father tells me everything he does, important or not, and he would not hide this from me. It just isn't so!”
3 But David answered,[a] “Your father knows very well how much you like me, and he has decided not to let you know what he plans to do, because you would be deeply hurt. I swear to you by the living Lord that I am only a step away from death!”
4 Jonathan said, “I'll do anything you want.”
5 (A)“Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival,” David replied, “and I am supposed to eat with the king. But if it's all right with you, I will go and hide in the fields until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father notices that I am not at the table, tell him that I begged your permission to hurry home to Bethlehem, since it's the time for the annual sacrifice there for my whole family. 7 If he says, ‘All right,’ I will be safe; but if he becomes angry, you will know that he is determined to harm me. 8 Please do me this favor, and keep the sacred promise you made to me. But if I'm guilty, kill me yourself Why take me to your father to be killed?”
9 “Don't even think such a thing!” Jonathan answered. “If I knew for sure that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn't I tell you?”
10 David then asked, “Who will let me know if your father answers you angrily?”
11 “Let's go out to the fields,” Jonathan answered. So they went, 12 and Jonathan said to David, “May the Lord God of Israel be our witness![b] At this time tomorrow and on the following day I will question my father. If his attitude toward you is good, I will send you word. 13 If he intends to harm you, may the Lord strike me dead if I don't let you know about it and get you safely away. May the Lord be with you as he was with my father! 14 And if I remain alive, please keep your sacred promise and be loyal to me; but if I die,[c] 15 (B)show the same kind of loyalty to my family forever. And when the Lord has completely destroyed all your enemies, 16 may our promise to each other still be unbroken. If it is broken, the Lord will punish you.”[d]
17 Once again Jonathan made David promise to love him, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself. 18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Since tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, your absence will be noticed if you aren't at the meal. 19 The day after tomorrow your absence will be noticed[e] even more; so go to the place where you hid yourself the other time, and hide behind the pile of stones there.[f] 20 I will then shoot three arrows at it, as though it were a target. 21 Then I will tell my servant to go and find them. And if I tell him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; get them,’ that means that you are safe and can come out. I swear by the living Lord that you will be in no danger. 22 But if I tell him, ‘The arrows are on the other side of you,’ then leave, because the Lord is sending you away. 23 As for the promise we have made to each other, the Lord will make sure that we will keep it forever.”
24 So David hid in the fields. At the New Moon Festival, King Saul came to the meal 25 and sat in his usual place by the wall. Abner sat next to him, and Jonathan sat across the table from him.[g] David's place was empty, 26 but Saul said nothing that day, because he thought, “Something has happened to him, and he is not ritually pure.” 27 On the following day, the day after the New Moon Festival, David's place was still empty, and Saul asked Jonathan, “Why didn't David come to the meal either yesterday or today?”
28 Jonathan answered, “He begged me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29 ‘Please let me go,’ he said, ‘because our family is celebrating the sacrificial feast in town, and my brother ordered me to be there. So then, if you are my friend, let me go and see my relatives.’ That is why he isn't in his place at your table.”
30 Saul became furious with Jonathan and said to him, “How rebellious and faithless your mother was! Now I know you are taking sides with David and are disgracing yourself and that mother of yours! 31 Don't you realize that as long as David is alive, you will never be king of this country? Now go and bring him here—he must die!”
32 “Why should he die?” Jonathan replied. “What has he done?”
33 At that, Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to kill him, and Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. 34 Jonathan got up from the table in a rage and ate nothing that day—the second day of the New Moon Festival. He was deeply distressed about David, because Saul had insulted him. 35 The following morning Jonathan went to the fields to meet David, as they had agreed. He took a young boy with him 36 and said to him, “Run and find the arrows I'm going to shoot.” The boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy reached the place where the arrow had fallen, Jonathan shouted to him, “The arrow is farther on! 38 Don't just stand there! Hurry up!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master, 39 not knowing what it all meant; only Jonathan and David knew. 40 Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and told him to take them back to town.
41 After the boy had left, David got up from behind the pile of stones,[h] fell on his knees and bowed with his face to the ground three times. Both he and Jonathan were crying as they kissed each other; David's grief was even greater than Jonathan's.[i] 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “God be with you. The Lord will make sure that you and I, and your descendants and mine, will forever keep the sacred promise we have made to each other.” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
- 1 Samuel 20:3 One ancient translation answered; Hebrew made a vow again.
- 1 Samuel 20:12 One ancient translation be our witness; Hebrew does not have these words.
- 1 Samuel 20:14 Some ancient translations if I die; Hebrew that I may not die.
- 1 Samuel 20:16 Verses 15-16 in Hebrew are unclear.
- 1 Samuel 20:19 Some ancient translations your absence will be noticed; Hebrew go down.
- 1 Samuel 20:19 Probable text the pile of stones there; Hebrew the Ezel Stone.
- 1 Samuel 20:25 One ancient translation sat across the table from him; Hebrew stood up.
- 1 Samuel 20:41 Probable text the pile of stones; Hebrew the south.
- 1 Samuel 20:41 Probable text David's grief was even greater than Jonathan's; Hebrew unclear.
1 Samuel 20
New International Version
David and Jonathan
2 “Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”
3 But David took an oath(C) and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”
4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”
5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast,(D) and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide(E) in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6 If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission(F) to hurry to Bethlehem,(G) his hometown, because an annual(H) sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper,(I) you can be sure that he is determined(J) to harm me. 8 As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant(K) with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill(L) me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”
9 “Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”
10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”
11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.
12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound(M) out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely,(N) if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with(O) you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness(P) like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family(Q)—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”
16 So Jonathan(R) made a covenant(S) with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.(T)” 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath(U) out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.(V) 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid(W) when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows(X) to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond(Y) you,’ then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the Lord is witness(Z) between you and me forever.”
24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast(AA) came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan,[a] and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty.(AB) 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean.(AC)” 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”
28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission(AD) to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice(AE) in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”
30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom(AF) will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”
32 “Why(AG) should he be put to death? What(AH) has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended(AI) to kill David.
34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.
35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond(AJ) you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”
41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground.(AK) Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.
42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,(AL) for we have sworn friendship(AM) with each other in the name of the Lord,(AN) saying, ‘The Lord is witness(AO) between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.(AP)’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.[b]