1 Samuel 23:16
And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
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(16) And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David.—Some have wished to show that the account of the last interview between the friends really belongs to the secret meeting between David and Jonathan recounted in 1 Samuel 20, and that it has got transposed; but such a view is quite untenable, for the narrative here is circumstantial, and even mentions the scene of the interview—“the wood,” or, less probable, the town named “Horesh.” The expression “strengthened his hand in God” is added by the narrator to show how sorely tried was the king of the future at this juncture, notwithstanding that so many gallant spirits rallied round him. The determined and relentless hostility of the king of the land, his sovereign, and once his friend—the apparent hopelessness of his struggle—the cruel ingratitude of whole bodies of his fellow countrymen, such as the men of Ziph—his homeless, outlawed condition: all these things naturally weighed upon the nervous and enthusiastic temperament of David, which was soon depressed. His sad forebodings in his desolateness and loneliness at this time are breathed forth in not a few of the Psalms which tradition ascribes to him. At such a juncture the warm sympathy, the steady onlook to a sunnier future of one like Jonathan was a real help to David. Jonathan was far-sighted enough when David’s fortunes were at their lowest ebb to look confidently forward to a time when all these thick dark clouds of trouble should have passed away. Jonathan, we know (1Samuel 20:14-15) possessed sufficient confidence in David’s future fortune even to ask the hunted exile to remember him, the prince, with kindness when he should have come into his kingdom. Such warm sympathy, such glowing trustful words, we may well imagine, raised the spirits of the outlaw, and gave him new courage to face the grave difficulties of his dangerous position.

1 Samuel 23:16. Jonathan went and strengthened his hand in God — He comforted and supported him against all his fears, by considerations on the divine goodness and power, and by reminding him of God’s faithful promises made to him, and of his singular providence, which hitherto had been, and still would be with him.23:14-18 David made no attempt against Saul; he kept God's way, waited God's time, and was content to secure himself in woods and wildernesses. Let it make us think the worse of this world, which often gives such bad treatment to its best men: let it make us long for that kingdom where goodness shall for ever be in glory, and holiness in honour. We find Jonathan comforting David. As a pious friend, he directed him to God, the Foundation of his comfort. As a self-denying friend, he takes pleasure in the prospect of David's advancement to the throne. As a constant friend, he renewed his friendship with him. Our covenant with God should be often renewed, and therein our communion with him kept up. If the converse of one friend, at one meeting, gives comfort and strengthens our hearts, what may not be expected from the continual supports and powerful love of the Saviour of sinners, the covenanted Friend of believers!A touching example of mutual fidelity between friends. The humility and unselfish love of Jonathan is apparent in 1 Samuel 23:17. 16, 17. Jonathan went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God—by the recollection of their mutual covenant. What a victory over natural feelings and lower considerations must the faith of Jonathan have won, before he could seek such an interview and give utterance to such sentiments! To talk with calm and assured confidence of himself and family being superseded by the man who was his friend by the bonds of a holy and solemn covenant, could only have been done by one who, superior to all views of worldly policy, looked at the course of things in the spirit and through the principles of that theocracy which acknowledged God as the only and supreme Sovereign of Israel. Neither history nor fiction depicts the movements of a friendship purer, nobler, and more self-denying than Jonathan's! Jonathan went where David had appointed to meet him at that time, and strengthened his hand in God; he comforted and supported him against all his fears, by minding him of God’s infallible promises made to him, and his singular providence which hitherto had and still would be with him. And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose,.... And came from Gibeah, which, according to Bunting (o), was twenty two miles from the place where David was:

and went to David into the wood: having had intelligence where he was, this being a proper place to have an interview with him privately:

and strengthened his hand in God; and his heart too, his hand of faith to lay hold on God, as his covenant God and lean and rely upon him; he strengthened him in his power and in his providence, and in his promises to him; the Targum is,"he strengthened him in the Word of the Lord;''not only in his word and promise, but in Christ the essential Word of God, who should spring from him according to the flesh.

(o) Travels, &c. p. 334. (text not clear could be 834 or some other number)

And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.
16–18. Jonathan’s last meeting with David

16. strengthened his hand in God] Revived his courage by pointing him to the true ground of confidence. Cp. ch. 1 Samuel 30:6; Job 4:3.Verses 16-18. - Jonathan... went to David into the wood. To Horesh, as in ver. 15. This visit suggests two things: the first, that, after the scene in 1 Samuel 22:8, Saul was estranged from his son, and treated him harshly, regarding him as a fellow conspirator with David; the second, that there was a growing conviction, not only in Jonathan's mind, but generally, that Jehovah had transferred the kingdom from Saul to David, and that consequently David's final success was inevitable. He strengthened his (David's) hand in God. Such a visit, and the expression of Jonathan's strong conviction that Jehovah was with David, must necessarily have had a powerful moral effect upon his mind. Under such trying circumstances David must often have been tempted to despair; but the assurance of Jonathan's unbroken love for him, and the knowledge that he and many more regarded him as chosen by God to be Israel's king, would revive his courage and make him content to bear the hardships of his present lot. I shall be next unto thee. Had he not been killed in Mount Gilboa, it seems that, unlike Ishbosheth, Jonathan would have resigned all claim to the crown. But the feeling must often have distressed David, that the kingdom could become his only by dispossessing his true and unselfish friend. Nor would such a regret be altogether removed by Jonathan's ready acquiescence in it as God's will, though, as next to him, and beloved as he deserved, his position as the king's friend would have been a not unenviable one. Still, to be second where by right of inheritance he should have been first would have been a very trying lot, and it was better for Jonathan that he should die a soldier's death, even granting that he would have felt a lively joy in David's success and the glory of his empire. But their love was to be exposed to no vicissitudes, and the two friends parted never to meet again - David remaining at Horesh, while Jonathan returned to his home at Gibeah. But David heard that Saul was preparing mischief against him (lit. forging, החרישׁ, from הרשׁ; Proverbs 3:29; Proverbs 6:14, etc.), and he inquired through the oracle of the high priest whether the inhabitants of Keilah would deliver him up to Saul, and whether Saul would come down; and as both questions were answered in the affirmative, he departed from the city with his six hundred men, before Saul carried out his plan. It is evident from 1 Samuel 23:9-12, that when the will of God was sought through the Urim and Thummim, the person making the inquiry placed the matter before God in prayer, and received an answer; but always to one particular question. For when David had asked the two questions given in 1 Samuel 23:11, he received the answer to the second question only, and had to ask the first again (1 Samuel 23:12).
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