1 Samuel 20
GOD'S WORD® Translation

1David fled from the pastures at Ramah, came to Jonathan, and asked, "What have I done? What crime am I guilty of? What sin have I committed against your father that he's trying to kill me?" 2Jonathan answered, "That's unthinkable! You're not going to die! My father does nothing without telling me, whether it's important or not. Why should my father hide this from me? It's just not that way." 3But David took an oath, saying, "Your father certainly knows that you support me, so he said [to himself], 'Jonathan must not know about this. It will bring him distress.' But I solemnly swear, as the LORD and you live, I'm only one step away from death." 4Jonathan said to David, "I'll do whatever you say." 5David replied, "Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, when I should sit and eat at the king's [table]. But let me go and hide in the countryside for two more nights. 6If your father really misses me, tell him, 'David repeatedly begged me to let him run to Bethlehem, his hometown, because his relatives are offering the annual sacrifice there.' 7If he says, 'Good!' then I will be safe. But if he gets really angry, then you'll know for sure that he has decided to harm me. 8Now, be kind to me. After all, you forced me into an agreement with the LORD. If I have committed any crime, kill me yourself. Why bother taking me to your father?" 9Jonathan answered, "That's unthinkable! If I knew for sure that my father had decided to harm you, I would have told you about it." 10Then David asked, "Who will tell me whether or not your father gives you a harsh answer?"

11Jonathan said, "Let's go out into the country." So they went out into the country.

12"As the LORD God of Israel [is my witness]," Jonathan continued, "I'll find out in the next two or three days how my father feels about you. If he does feel kindly toward you, then I will send someone to tell you. 13If my father plans to harm you and I fail to tell you and send you away safely, may the LORD harm me even more. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father. 14But as long as I live, [promise me that you will] show me kindness because of the LORD. And even when I die, 15never stop being kind to my family. The Lord will wipe each of David's enemies off the face of the earth. 16At that time, if Jonathan's name is cut off from David's family, then may the LORD punish David's house." 17Once again Jonathan swore an oath to David because of his love for David. He loved David as much as [he loved] himself.

18"Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival," Jonathan told him, "and you will be missed when your seat is empty. 19The day after tomorrow you will be missed even more. So go to the place where you hid on that other occasion, and stay by the rock. 20I will shoot three arrows from beside it toward a target. 21Then I will send out a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' Now, if I tell the boy, 'Look, the arrows are next to you; get them,' then come [back with me]. You will be safe, and there will be no trouble. I swear it, as the LORD lives. 22But if I tell the boy, 'The arrows are next to you,' then go, because the LORD has sent you away. 23We have made a promise to each other, and the LORD is [a witness] between you and me forever."

24So David hid in the countryside. When the New Moon Festival came, King Saul sat down to eat the festival meal. 25He sat in his usual seat by the wall, while Jonathan stood. Abner sat beside Saul, but David's place was empty. 26Saul didn't say anything that day, thinking, "Something has happened to him so that he's unclean. He must be unclean." 27But on the second day of the month, David's place was still empty. Saul asked his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't Jesse's son come to the meal either yesterday or today?" 28Jonathan answered Saul, "David repeatedly begged me [to let him go] to Bethlehem. 29David said to me 'Please let me go. Our relatives will offer a sacrifice in the city, and my brother ordered me to be there. If you will permit it, please let me go to see my brothers.' This is why he hasn't come to your banquet."

30Then Saul got angry with Jonathan. "Son of a crooked and rebellious woman!" he called Jonathan. "I know you've sided with Jesse's son. You have no shame. [You act] as if you are your mother's son but not mine. 31As long as Jesse's son lives on earth, neither you nor your right to be king is secure. Now, send some men to bring him to me. He's a dead man!" 32Jonathan asked his father, "Why should he be killed? What has he done?" 33Saul raised his spear to strike him. Then Jonathan knew his father was determined to kill David. 34Jonathan got up from the table very angry and ate nothing that second day of the month. He was worried sick about David because Jonathan had been humiliated by his own father.

35In the morning Jonathan went out to the country to the place he and David had agreed on. Jonathan had a young boy with him. 36"Run," he told the boy, "please find the arrows I shoot." The boy ran, and Jonathan shot the arrow over him. 37When the boy reached the place where Jonathan's arrow [had landed], Jonathan called after him, "The arrows are next to you!" 38Jonathan added, "Quick! Hurry up! Don't stand there!" Jonathan's young servant gathered the arrows and came to his master. 39The boy had no idea what was going on, but Jonathan and David understood. 40Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy. He told the boy, "Take them back into town." 41When the boy had left, David came out from the south side [of the rock] and quickly bowed down three times with his face touching the ground. Then they kissed each other and cried together, but David cried the loudest. 42"Go in peace!" Jonathan told David. "We have both taken an oath in the LORD's name, saying, 'The LORD will be [a witness] between me and you and between my descendants and your descendants forever.' " So David left, and Jonathan went into the city.

GOD'S WORD® is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.

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