1 Samuel 20:3
And David swore moreover, and said, Your father certainly knows that I have found grace in your eyes; and he said, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.
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(3) Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes.—David urges that his fall, and even his death, had been decided upon by Saul, who, knowing how Jonathan loved him, would shrink from confiding to his son his deadly plans respecting his loved friend. David, with his clear, bright intellect, looked deeper into Saul’s heart than did the heroic, guileless son. He recognised only too vividly the intensity of the king’s hatred of him; and we see in the next verse that the mournful earnestness of the son of Jesse had its effect upon the prince, who consented to make the public trial of Saul’s real mind which his friend asked for.

1 Samuel 20:3. David sware moreover — The matter being of great moment, and Jonathan doubting the truth of it, he confirms his word with an oath, which follows in the end of the verse. Only he interposeth a reason why Saul concealed it from Jonathan. Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved — What a noble and generous turn does David here give to the behaviour of Saul to Jonathan, lest he should think ill of his father, by insinuating that he had kept this a secret from him out of affection, lest it should give him pain.20:1-10 The trials David met with, prepared him for future advancement. Thus the Lord deals with those whom he prepares unto glory. He does not put them into immediate possession of the kingdom, but leads them to it through much tribulation, which he makes the means of fitting them for it. Let them not murmur at his gracious appointment, nor distrust his care; but let them look forward with joyful expectation to the crown which is laid up for them. Sometimes it appears to us that there is but a step between us and death; at all times it may be so, and we should prepare for the event. But though dangers appear most threatening, we cannot die till the purpose of God concerning us is accomplished; nor till we have served our generation according to his will, if we are believers. Jonathan generously offers David his services. This is true friendship. Thus Christ testifies his love to us, Ask, and it shall be done for you; and we must testify our love to him, by keeping his commandments.And David sware moreover - Rather, "yet again." He met Jonathan's denial by repeating his statement and confirming it with an oath. CHAPTER 20

1Sa 20:1-10. David Consults with Jonathan for His Safety.

1-3. David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan—He could not remain in Naioth, for he had strong reason to fear that when the religious fit, if we may so call it, was over, Saul would relapse into his usual fell and sanguinary temper. It may be thought that David acted imprudently in directing his flight to Gibeah. But he was evidently prompted to go thither by the most generous feelings—to inform his friend of what had recently occurred, and to obtain that friend's sanction to the course he was compelled to adopt. Jonathan could not be persuaded there was any real danger after the oath his father had taken; at all events, he felt assured his father would do nothing without telling him. Filial attachment naturally blinded the prince to defects in the parental character and made him reluctant to believe his father capable of such atrocity. David repeated his unshaken convictions of Saul's murderous purpose, but in terms delicately chosen (1Sa 20:3), not to wound the filial feelings of his friend; while Jonathan, clinging, it would seem, to a hope that the extraordinary scene enacted at Naioth might have wrought a sanctified improvement on Saul's temper and feelings, undertook to inform David of the result of his observations at home.

The matter being of great moment, and Jonathan doubting the truth of it, David confirms his word with an oath, which follows in the end of the verse; only he interposeth a reason why Saul concealed it from Jonathan. And David sware moreover, and said,.... To assure Jonathan of the truth of it, that he did most certainly seek after his life, of which, as he had no doubt himself, by an oath he endeavoured to remove any that might be in Jonathan, who was not willing to believe his father could be guilty of so foul a crime:

thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes: that he was high in his favour, that he had a great value for him, and he had a large share in his love and friendship, and that was the reason why he hid from him his base intentions:

and he saith, let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved; as he would be, both for the evil his father would be guilty of, and the danger David, his beloved friend, would be in:

but truly, as the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death; as appeared by his casting a javelin at him, 1 Samuel 18:11, sending messengers to his own house to slay him, 1 Samuel 19:11, and others to Naioth to seize him, 1 Samuel 19:20, and coming himself thither with an intention to kill him, 1 Samuel 19:22, and in each of these instances he had a narrow escape for his life; and this he declared in the most solemn manner by an oath, for the confirmation of the truth of it to Jonathan.

And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a {b} step between me and death.

(b) I am in great danger of death.

3. And David sware moreover] Added an oath to the assertion in 1 Samuel 20:1. The Sept. however reads simply, “And David answered Jonathan and said.”

Thy father certainly knoweth, &c.] Jonathan’s confidence that Saul would tell him all beforehand clearly implies that be supposed his father to be ignorant of the close friendship between him and David. David undeceives him on this point.

there is but a step, &c.] He stands, as it were, upon the very brink of a precipice.Verses 3, 4. - Thy father certainly knoweth, etc. Though Saul did not know the entireness of Jonathan's love for David, yet he was aware of the friendship that existed between them, and consequently might keep his purpose a secret from Jonathan, especially if he considered that his frankness in speaking openly to his son and servants on a previous occasion had led to David's escape. David, therefore, urges upon his friend a different course, to which he assents. But how are we to explain the entirely different views taken of Saul's conduct by the two. When David tells his fears Jonathan utters an exclamation of horror, and says, "Thou shalt not die." Yet he knew that his father had talked to him and his Officers about putting David to death; that he had tried to kill him with his own hand, and on his escape had set people to watch his house with orders to slay him; and on David's flight to the prophet had thrice sent emissaries to bring him away by force. The explanation probably lies in Saul s insanity. When he threw his javelin at David and during the subsequent proceed. ings he was out of his mind. The violent fit at Naioth had for the time cleared his reason, and he had come back sane. Jonathan regarded all that had taken place as the effect of a mind diseased, and concluded, therefore, that David might now return to his home and wife, and resume his duties and take his place at the royal table. Should the old craze come back about David being his rival and destined successor, Saul would be sure to talk about it, and then Jonathan would give him timely warning. But David was convinced that it was no craze, but that Saul, sane or insane, had determined upon his death. The same thing happened to a second and third company of messengers, whom Saul sent one after another when the thing was reported to him.
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