1 Samuel 20:14
And you shall not only while yet I live show me the kindness of the LORD, that I die not:
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(14) And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not.—The Hebrew of this and the next verse is again very confused, abrupt, and ungrammatical, but this is evidently to be attributed to the violent emotion of the speaker. We have, doubtless (as above suggested). David’s own report of what took place, and the words of his dead friend had, no doubt, impressed themselves with a sad accuracy on his heart.

The Syriac and Arabic renderings have been followed by Maurer, Ewald, Keil, Lange, and others, who change v’lo (“and not”) in the first two clauses of 1Samuel 20:14, into the interjection v’lu (and “O that,” or “would that”). They render them, “And mayest thou, if I still live, show to me the favour of the Lord, and if I die, not withdraw thy favour from my house for ever, not even when Jehovah shall cut off the enemies of David, every one from the face of the earth.”

The last words, “when Jehovah shall cut off,” tells us with striking clearness how thoroughly convinced was Jonathan that in the end David’s cause, as the cause of their God, would surely triumph. Mournfully he looked on to his father’s downfall and his own (Jonathan’s) premature death; and in full view of this he bespoke the interest of his friend—though his friend would probably in a few hours become an exile and outlaw—on behalf of his own (Jonathan’s) children, who would, he foresaw, before many years had expired, be landless, homeless orphans.

1 Samuel 20:14. And thou shalt show me the kindness of the Lord — That kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself, in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God’s presence. The words in the Hebrew run plainly thus: And wilt thou not, if I be then alive, (namely, when God had advanced David to the throne as he had done Saul,) wilt thou not show me the loving-kindness of the Lord? He made no doubt, but rather strongly affirmed his belief of it. That I die not — That thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line used to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them.20:11-23 Jonathan faithfully promises that he would let David know how he found his father affected towards him. It will be kindness to ourselves and to ours, to secure an interest in those whom God favours, and to make his friends ours. True friendship rests on a firm basis, and is able to silence ambition, self-love, and undue regard for others. But who can fully understand the love of Jesus, who gave himself as a sacrifice for rebellious, polluted sinners! how great then ought to be the force and effects of our love to him, to his cause, and his people!The general meaning is: Jonathan had a presentiment, doubtless from God, that David would be established upon the throne. By God's mercy he had the comfort, which he well deserved, of knowing that his own posterity would receive kindness at David's hand (see the marginal references). 1Sa 20:11-23. Their Covenant Renewed by Oath.

11. Jonathan said to David, Come, let us go into the field—The private dialogue, which is here detailed at full length, presents a most beautiful exhibition of these two amiable and noble-minded friends. Jonathan was led, in the circumstances, to be the chief speaker. The strength of his attachment, his pure disinterestedness, his warm piety, his invocation to God (consisting of a prayer and a solemn oath combined), the calm and full expression he gave of his conviction that his own family were, by the divine will, to be disinherited, and David elevated to the possession of the throne, the covenant entered into with David on behalf of his descendants, and the imprecation (1Sa 20:16) denounced on any of them who should violate his part of the conditions, the reiteration of this covenant on both sides (1Sa 20:17) to make it indissoluble—all this indicates such a power of mutual affection, such magnetic attractiveness in the character of David, such susceptibility and elevation of feeling in the heart of Jonathan, that this interview for dramatic interest and moral beauty stands unrivalled in the records of human friendship.


And wilt thou not, if I shall then be alive, ( to wit, when the Lord shall be with thee, as he hath been with my father, as he now said, i.e. when God shall have advanced thee to the kingdom, as he did him,) yea, wilt thou not (the same particle twice repeated for asseveration, i.e. I am well assured that thou wilt)

show me the kindness of the Lord; i.e. either such kindness as the Lord hath showed to thee in preserving thy life in the midst of so many and such great dangers; or that kindness to which thou hast engaged thyself; in the covenant sworn between thee and me in God’s presence.

That I die not; that thou do not kill me or mine, as princes of another line use to kill the nearest relations of the former line, from whom the kingdom was translated to them; which they do either by way of revenge, or in policy, and reason of state, to secure the kingdom to themselves. And thou shalt not only, while yet I live, show me the kindness of the Lord,.... Such kindness as is well pleasing in the sight of God, and imitate what he shows to men, and which was covenanted, promised, and agreed to in the presence of the Lord, when David and Jonathan entered into covenant with each other; this Jonathan did not doubt of, and therefore did not make this a request:

that I die not; he had no fear nor dread on his mind, should David come to the throne while he was alive, that he would take away his life; which was usually done by tyrants and usurpers, when there were any that had a fairer title, and better claim to the throne than they.

And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the LORD, {h} that I die not:

(h) I know that if you were given the kingdom now, you would not destroy me, but show yourself friendly to my posterity.

14, 15. Convinced that David will succeed to the kingdom, Jonathan exacts from him a promise to shew kindness to his posterity after his death as well as to himself during his life time. His words, like Saul’s in ch. 1 Samuel 14:21, are prompted by a fear lest even David should conform to the barbarous Oriental custom by which the first king of a new dynasty often tried to secure himself on the throne by murdering his predecessor’s family. Cp. 1 Kings 15:29; 1 Kings 16:11; 2 Kings 10:6; 2 Kings 11:1. David fulfilled his promise by shewing kindness to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:1 ff; 2 Samuel 21:7). This is clearly the general sense of the passage, though the exact rendering is doubtful. (1) Retaining the Heb. text we may translate: “And wilt thou not, if I am still alive (when thou comest to the throne), yea wilt thou not shew me the kindness of Jehovah, that I die not? And thou shalt not cut off, &c.” But this involves a very harsh construction, and it is perhaps best (2) to alter the text slightly, and translate: “And mayest thou, if I am still alive, yea mayest thou shew me the kindness of Jehovah: and if I die, thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever, &c.”Verses 14, 15. - The construction of this passage is very difficult if we retain the three negatives of the Masoretic text; but most commentators, following the reading of the Syriac as regards at least one of them, consider that the Masorites have been mistaken in the vowels which they have attached to the consonants (see on 1 Samuel 1:7). Read with other vowels, two of these negatives become interjections of desire - O that; and the whole may be translated, "And O that, while I still live, yea, O that thou wouldst show me the kindness of Jehovah, - i.e. great unfailing kindness, such as was that of Jehovah to Israel, - that I die not, nor shalt thou cut off thy kindness from my house forever." It was the sanguinary custom in the East on a change of dynasty to put all the seed royal to death (1 Kings 15:29; 1 Kings 16:11, etc., and comp. 2 Samuel 19:28). As then Jonathan foresaw that it was Jehovah's will to transfer the kingdom to David, he binds him by the memory of his own true love to him to show mercy to his race. David made sure that Jonathan would grant this request on account of his friendship, as he had brought him into a covenant of Jehovah with himself. David calls the covenant of friendship with Jonathan (1 Samuel 18:3) a covenant of Jehovah, because he had made it with a solemn invocation of Jehovah. But in order to make quite sure of the fulfilment of his request on the part of Jonathan, David added, "But if there is a fault in me, do thou kill me (אתּה used to strengthen the suffix); for why wilt thou bring me to thy father?" sc., that he may put me to death.
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