The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. Like father, like son. So go the sayings, but Saul and Jonathan were certainly among the exceptions to those rules. When it came to their relationship with David, they couldn’t have been further apart. Jonathan loved David as himself and was willing to sacrifice for his friend, while Saul viewed David as a threat and first wanted to kill David before then being afraid of him. Jonathan’s friendship with David was marked by a love that put others first. Saul’s relationship with David was all about putting and keeping Saul first. What’s interesting is that Jonathan’s self-sacrifice led to genuine friendship. By loving David as himself, Jonathan experienced peace. Meanwhile, Saul’s jealous grasp on power only led to anger, jealousy, and suspicion. By clinging to his own rights, Saul actually fed the very conflict that he feared.
Saul holds up a mirror to our temptation to insist on our own way and to cling to our own rights and power, but Jonathan–here and in the chapters to come–shows us what it looks like to live out the command Jesus would repeat in Mark 12:31, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Today, let’s be a people who pray for the good of our community, work for the good of our neighbors, and love others as ourselves.