1 Samuel 18:1
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
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(1) The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David.—We have in this and the following chapters somewhat of a detailed account of David at the Court of Saul. In 1 Samuel 16 this Court life of the future king has been already touched upon, notably in 1Samuel 18:21-23, where the affection of Saul for David was mentioned, where also the appointing of the young shepherd to a post about the king’s person is recorded. But this mention in 1 Samuel 16 considerably anticipated the course of events. In relating the results of this affection of Saul for David, the writer of what we may term the episode treating of the influence of music and poetry passed over, so to speak, the story of several years, in the course of which took place the single combat of David with the Philistine giant, and the victorious campaign in which the young hero took so distinguished a part. The history here takes up the thread of the future king’s life, after the campaigns which immediately followed the discomfiture of the Philistine champion (1Samuel 18:6 and following). 1Samuel 18:1-4 simply relate the beginning of the world-famous friendship between Prince Jonathan and David.

The Hebrew is rendered “was knit,” or better, was bound up. This is a strong term, and is used in Genesis 44:30 of Jacob’s love to Benjamin: “seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life.” Aristotle, Nicom. ix. 8, has noted that friends are called one soul.

Jonathan loved him as his own soul.—As has been before remarked, the character of the princely son of Saul is one of the most beautiful in the Old Testament story. He was the type of a true warrior of those wild, half-barbarous times—among brave men seemingly the bravest—a perfect soldier, whether fighting as a simple man-at-arms or as the general of an army—chivalrous and generous—utterty free from jealousy—a fervid believer in the God of Israel—a devoted and loyal son—a true patriot in the highest sense of the word, who sealed a devoted life by a noble death, dying as he did fighting for his king and his people. The long and steady friendship of Jonathan no doubt had a powerful and enduring influence on the after life of the greatest of the Hebrew sovereigns. The words, the unselfish, beautiful love, and, above all, the splendid example of the ill-fated son of Saul, have no doubt given their colouring to many of the noblest utterances in David’s Psalms and to not a few of the most heroic deeds in David’s life.

We read of this friendship as dating from the morrow of the first striking deed of arms performed by David when he slew the giant. It is clear, however, that it was not the personal bravery of the boy hero, or the rare skill he showed in the encounter, which so singularly attracted Prince Jonathan. These things no one would have admired and honoured more than the son of Saul, but it needed more than splendid gallantry and rare skill to attract that great love of which we read. What won Jonathan’s heart was the shepherd boy’s sublime faith, his perfect childlike trust in the “Glorious Arm” of the Lord. Jonathan and David possessed one thing in common—an intense, unswerving belief in the power of Jehovah of Israel to keep and to save all who trusted in Him.

The two were typical Israelites, both possessing in a very high degree that intense confidence in the Mighty One of Israel which was the mainspring of the people’s glory and success, and which, in the seemingly interminable days of their punishment and degradation, has been the power which has kept them still together—a people distinct, reserved yet for some mighty destiny in the unknown future.

1 Samuel 18:1. The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David — On account of the prudence and modesty of his discourse and behaviour after such an heroic action, and the other excellent virtues which shone forth both in his speeches and actions; for the service he had done to God and to his people; and for the similitude of their age and qualities.

18:1-5 The friendship of David and Jonathan was the effect of Divine grace, which produces in true believers one heart and one soul, and causes them to love each other. This union of souls is from partaking in the Spirit of Christ. Where God unites hearts, carnal matters are too weak to separate them. Those who love Christ as their own souls, will be willing to join themselves to him in an everlasting covenant. It was certainly a great proof of the power of God's grace in David, that he was able to bear all this respect and honour, without being lifted up above measure.Was knit with the soul of David - The same forcible phrase occurs of Jacob's love for Benjamin (marginal reference). Jonathan's truly heroic character is shown in this generous love of David, and admiration of his great deed. CHAPTER 18

1Sa 18:1-4. Jonathan Loves David.

1. the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David—They were nearly of an age. The prince had taken little interest in David as a minstrel; but his heroism and modest, manly bearing, his piety and high endowments, kindled the flame not of admiration only, but of affection, in the congenial mind of Jonathan.Jonathan loveth David; they covenant together, 1 Samuel 18:1-4. Saul envieth David’s praise; in his fury seeketh to kill him, 1 Samuel 18:5-11: is afraid of him; and removeth him: he is loved by the people, 1 Samuel 18:12-16. Saul offereth David his daughters; first Merab, who is given to Adriel; then Michal, who loveth David, 1 Samuel 18:17-20. Saul demandeth one hundred foreskins of the Philistines for a dowry: David promiseth; delivereth double the number; obtaineth Michal, 1 Samuel 18:21-27. Saul’s fear and hatred, and David’s glory, increaseth, 1 Samuel 18:28-30.

Partly for his excellent virtues and endowments, which shone forth both in his speeches and actions; partly, for the great and good service which he had done to God and to his people; and partly, for the similitude of their age and qualities.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul,.... In answer to his questions about his descent and family, and doubtless more things were talked of than are recorded:

that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David: he won his heart, made a conquest of his affections, these went out towards him, and cleaved unto him; such were the comeliness of his person, his graceful mien and deportment, his freedom and fluency of expression, his courage and undauntedness, joined with prudence, modesty, and integrity, that they strongly attached him to him:

and Jonathan loved him as his own soul; not only according to the excellency of David's soul, and the greatness of it, as that deserved respect and love, as Abarbinel suggests, but he loved him as he loved himself. There was a similarity in their persons, in their age, in the dispositions of their minds, in their wisdom, courage, modesty, faithfulness, and openness of soul, that attracted them to each other, that they became as another self; as one soul, as Aristotle speaks (r) of true friends: instances of very cordial friendship are given by Plutarch (s), as in Theseus and Pirithous, Achilles and Patroclus, Orestes and Pylades, Pythias and Damon, Epaminondas and Pelopidas; but none equal to this.

(r) Ethic. l. 9. c. 4, 9. So Porphyr. de Vita Pythagor. (s) Apud Patrick in loc.

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the {a} soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

(a) His affection was fully bent toward him.

1. the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David] The same expressive phrase is used of Jacob’s love for Benjamin in Genesis 44:30, which might be rendered “seeing his soul is knit up with the lad’s soul.”

loved him as his own soul] Cp. 1 Samuel 20:17; Deuteronomy 13:6; 2 Samuel 1:26. Thus commenced that attachment “which is the first Biblical instance of a romantic friendship, such as was common afterwards in Greece, and has been since in Christendom; and is remarkable, both as giving its sanction to these, and as filled with a pathos of its own, which has been imitated but never surpassed, in modern works of fiction. Each found in each the affection that he found not in his own family.” Dean Stanley in Dict. of Bible, I. 1122. Theseus and Peirithous; Achilles and Patroclus; Orestes and Pylades; Damon and Pythias; Epaminondas and Pelopidas; are the most familiar instances in classical literature.

Ch. 1 Samuel 18:1-5. Jonathan’s friendship for David

1–5. This section also is not found in the Septuagint (B).

Verse 1. - When he had made an end of speaking. This conversation took place as soon as the pursuit of the Philistines and the collecting of the spoil were over. There would then be a muster of the Israelites, and Abner would naturally present the youthful champion to the king, who is represented as having virtually forgotten him, and as anxious to learn his history; nor had his stay been long enough for Abner to remember him. As this conversation is narrated as an introduction to the account of Jonathan's friendship for David, the last four verses of ch. 17. ought to be prefixed to ch. 18. A new beginning commences with them, in which we are told of the commencement of this friendship, of the growth of Saul's hatred, and of the trials which befell David, proceeding on the king's part from bad to worse, till at last he was driven away and compelled to lead the life of an outlaw. But by his envy, cruelty, and bad government Saul was alienating the minds of the people from him, and preparing the way for his own downfall and David's ultimate triumph. The episode of Jonathan's love is as beautiful as Saul's conduct is dark, and completes our admiration for this generous and noble hero. The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. These kindred spirits had so much in common that, as David with modest manliness answered the king's questions, an intense feeling of admiration grew up in the young warrior's heart, and a friendship was the result which ranks among the purest and noblest examples of true manly affection. The word rendered knit literally means knotted, tied together firmly by indissoluble bonds. 1 Samuel 18:1The bond of friendship which Jonathan formed with David was so evidently the main point, that in 1 Samuel 18:1 the writer commences with the love of Jonathan to David, and then after that proceeds in 1 Samuel 18:2 to observe that Saul took David to himself from that day forward; whereas it is very evident that Saul told David, either at the time of his conversation with him or immediately afterwards, that he was henceforth to remain with him, i.e., in his service. "The soul of Jonathan bound itself (lit. chained itself; cf. Genesis 44:30) to David's soul, and Jonathan loved him as his soul." The Chethibh ויּאהבו with the suffix ו attached to the imperfect is very rare, and hence the Keri ויּאהבהוּ (vid., Ewald, 249, b., and Olshausen, Gramm. p. 469). לשׁוּב, to return to his house, viz., to engage in his former occupation as shepherd.
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