A Beloved Friend's Death Lamented
2 Samuel 1:26
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been to me: your love to me was wonderful…

David's lamentation over Saul was genuine. He saw now the good in him, and passed over the evil. He remembered his early kindnesses to himself, and thought not of his later enmity. He associated him with Jonathan, and was softened towards him on that account. He mourned sincerely that his death should have been caused, though not directly inflicted, by the enemies of his nation, the Philistines. He sympathized with the people in their loss, and in the troubles which would surely spring from his death. But his lament over Jonathan was of another order. It was the outburst of a passionate grief at the tragical death of an affectionate and faithful friend, whom he tenderly loved, whose life had been lovely, and to David most kind and helpful.


1. It seems to have originated in admiration. The qualities of David, as they were displayed in the conflict with Goliath, found an echo in Jonathan's own soul, which became "knit with the soul of David," so that "Jonathan loved him as his own soul" (1 Samuel 18:1, 3). There were natural affinities - youth, courage, faith in God. But there was, doubtless, also that subtile something, undiscoverable by analysis, which specially adapts one soul for closest union with another.

2. It was very warm and passionate. See the above quotation, and David's words in the text, "Thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

3. It was cemented and confirmed by pledges and compacts. (1 Samuel 18:3, 4; 1 Samuel 20:16, 17, 41, 42; 1 Samuel 23:18.) Note especially 1 Samuel 20:17, "Jonathan caused David to swear again," etc. His love was so strong and passionate that it was never weary of pouring itself out in vows and protests and covenants.

4. It was more than disinterested. For Jonathan soon saw that David would succeed his father on the throne, and the prospect was strongly represented to him by Saul (1 Samuel 20:31). But no jealousy sprang up in his heart; he was content to be second where David was first (1 Samuel 23:17).

5. It was shown by practical service. He interceded with his father repeatedly for David, and exposed himself thereby to death from his father's rage. He warned David of his father's deadly purpose, and repeated the warning when, contrary to his hope, he found how implacable that purpose was. He visited his friend when banished from court and pursued by his relentless enemy. He "strengthened his hands in God." In all ways he proved himself a "brother;" yea, "a friend that sticketh closer than a brother "(Proverbs 18:24).

6. It was associated with strict loyalty to his father. He had a difficult part to play, but he played it well. He was loving and devoted to Saul, while maintaining so warm a friendship with him whose life the father sought. David would only the more admire and love him on this account, for he was equally loyal to the unhappy king, and would have served him as devotedly if he had been permitted; and so, when both were slain on one battlefield, he united their memories in his elegy. "Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death they were not divided."

II. HIS DEATH. The dearest friends must be parted by death; and the pleasure they have enjoyed in each other's love and society will make the pain the more severe.

"There is no union here of hearts
Which finds not here an end."

Yet this is not strictly true. Christian friendships are immortal.

III. DAVID'S LAMENTATION. A worthy tribute of friendship - tender, sublime, and sincere. David would feel his loss irreparable. No friendship equal to this was it possible to form. Happily, while lamenting his loss, his sorrow was not embittered by the memory of any unkindness or unfaithfulness on his part. It is, however, singular that even in such a composition no reference to future life and reunion should find place. The consolations so natural to a Christian are unnoticed. They were not ordinarily known with sufficient distinctness to be of much service. "Our Saviour Jesus Christ... brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). We may regard the friendship of Jonathan for David as a picture of -

I. THE FRIENDSHIP OF JESUS FOR US. This is "wonderful" indeed, in its condescension, its spontaneousness, its disinterestedness, its sacrifices, its services and bestowments. And it never ends. This Friend never dies, never changes in love or power.

II. WHAT OUR FRIENDSHIP TO HIM SHOULD BE. It cannot be purely disinterested; we owe so much to him, and expect so much from him. Yet may our love be far more than gratitude; we may love him for his own sake, and shall do so if we are his. Nor let us restrain our affection, but lavish it upon him - ardent, tender, even passionate. He requires and deserves to be loved more than our dearest earthly relatives and friends. But ever let us remember that he values most our obedient and self-denying service, and our practical love for his sake of those whom he loves and for whom he gave his life.

III. WHAT OUR FRIENDSHIP WITH EACH OTHER SHOULD BE. Our Lord came to found in the world a sacred friendship, a brotherhood, based on faith in him and love to him, and kept alive by regard for his love to us all. In Jonathan, and still more in Jesus, we see what this friendship ought to be. - G.W.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

WEB: I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

The Fall of the Mighty
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