SKC – David and Jonathan

In reading through the stories of David, one commonly asked question is ‘What was the relationship between David and Jonathan?‘. Conjecture abounds, agendas arise, so, let’s see what was going on.

1 Samuel 18.1 tells us that

“When David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan and David became bound together in close friendship.”


Some like to twist this and suggest that David and Jonathan were more than friends, but, as we read above, the best sense of their relationship is close friendship. Perhaps your Bible says that David loved Jonathan, but the word translated as love or close friendship (אָהַב) seldom has sexual connotations (Genesis 27.9, 37.3, and Hosea 12.7, for just three examples).

As 1 Samuel progresses we see David and Jonathan entering into a covenant (18.2-5) and we then see their friendship grow. What can we take from it?

We read of their sacrifice for one another (18.4),

we see their loyalty towards one another (19.1-3),

and we see the emotional support and security that this kind of friendship brings (1 Samuel 20).

To twist something beautiful and instructive into something sinful is sad. In multiple places Scripture calls practicing homosexuality a sin (Leviticus 18.22, 20.13, and Romans 1.18-25, for example). To say that the Bible shows David and Jonathan to be in a homosexual relationship stands against the full counsel of Scripture, and, if it were true, would call for us to recant our position that all Scripture is God-breathed, inspired, and inerrant. We simply cannot have a canon of Scripture that allows something here, condemns it there, and trust that body of text as true.

Rather than a subversive example of how homosexual relationships are practiced in the Bible, David and Jonathan show us, prophetically, the kind of love that Jesus demonstrates.

We see sacrifice (Mark 10.41-45),

loyalty (John 10.28),

security (2 Thessalonians 3.3),

and emotional support (John 11.35-36).

Day to day and practically, we see how two people (and two men, specifically, in a modern culture that says otherwise) should treat those closest to them. Is David and Jonathan’s relationship a low-key endorsement of practicing homosexuality? No, not at all. Rather, it’s a beautiful, open, honest, and vulnerable example of true, Biblical friendship.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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