1 Samuel 20:17
And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) And Jonathan caused David to swear again.—Throughout this touching interview it is the prince who appears as the suppliant for the outlaw’s ruture kind offices. Jonathan—looking forward with absolute certainty to the day when his persecuted friend would be on the throne, and he in his grave—dreaded for his own fatherless children the fate which too probably awaited them, it having been in all ages a common custom in the East, when the dynasty was violently changed, to put to death the children and near relations of the former king.

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.

Heb. And Jonathan added or proceeded to make David swear, i.e. having himself sworn to David, or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David’s oath to him, by way of restipulation or confirmation.

Because he loved him; because he had a true friendship for David, he desired that the covenant might be inviolably observed through all their generations. And Jonathan caused David to swear again,.... Or Jonathan added to make David swears (u); having sworn himself to make a covenant of friendship with David and his family, he moved and insisted on it, that David should swear to keep covenant with him, and his family:

because he loved him; it was not so much for the good and safety of his offspring that he made this motion, and was so desirous of renewing and enlarging his covenant with David, as it was his strong love and affection for him; being on that account desirous that there might be the strictest friendship imaginable retained between the two families; or he made him swear by his love to him, as some understand it, which is not so likely; the former sense is better, for he himself sware by the Lord, 1 Samuel 20:12,

for he loved him as his own soul; or "with the love of his soul" (w); with the most cordial affection, with a truly hearty and sincere love, see 1 Samuel 18:1.

(u) "et addidit", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; so the Tigurine version. (w) "secundum dilectionem animae suae", Pagninus; "amore sui ipsius", Junius & Tremellius.

And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. caused David to swear again, because, &c.] Jonathan exacted another oath beside that implied in 1 Samuel 20:16, because the intensity of his love impelled him to bind David by the strongest possible obligation. The Sept. however reads: “And Jonathan swore yet again to David.”Verse 17. - Jonathan caused David to swear again. So strong was his conviction in David's future kingdom, and his wish that there should be an unbroken bond of love between the two families, that he makes David solemnly repeat his promise. The Septuagint and Vulgate, by altering the vowels, read, "And Jonathan sware again to David." At first sight this interpretation seems most in accordance with the reason given for the renewal of the oath, namely, Jonathan's own love; but the Masoretic text agrees better with what has gone before, and with his wish that their covenant under no change of circumstances should be broken. Before replying to these questions, Jonathan asked David to go with him to the field, that they might there fix upon the sign by which he would let him know, in a way in which no one could suspect, what was the state of his father's mind.
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