“Preparing To Go Love”
1 Samuel 18:1-16
Pure love of God is seen in commitment to God and others.
Love Gives All
Love Serves Others
Love Gives All
1 Samuel 18:1-4, NKJV
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
It is important that each time people go to Scripture they go humbly, seeking that the Word of God will reveal truth and bring transformation to their soul instead of supporting a private agenda. People violate God’s Word when they use Scripture to support and justify their sin. There are those who wrongly use this passage found here in 1 Samuel as support for homosexual relations between men. This passage in no way supports such an idea and rapes the Word of God to proclaim such a thing.
Jonathan’s soul was bound together with the soul of David as Jacob’s soul was bound up with the soul of his son Benjamin (Genesis 44:30-34). The love expressed by the Hebrew word ’āhab used here is the relationship that is held between a person and God, God’s love for people, or an object or a type of food. There was a mutual commitment between these two men that they would see to the interest of the other and do whatever they could to protect and help the other. This is the kind of love that ought to exist among those who are followers of Jesus Christ.
Apostle Paul was inspired to write about this kind of love to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. It is this kind of love that pours out from the heart of God into the lives of His people and overflows into the world. John was inspired to write about how God’s love, practically modeled between Jonathan and David, is something that is a clear indicator that a person has given their lives over to the authority of God (1 John 4:1-5:3). Jesus demonstrated this throughout His earthly ministry which culminated in His death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of all those who surrender control of their lives to God through faith in Christ Jesus.
King Saul, Jonathan’s father, took David into the palace to serve in his royal court. Up until that time, David was summoned as needed to calm the king when he was tormented by an evil spirit (1 Samuel 16:14-23; 17:12-15). There was much time for David and Jonathan to get to know one another well during that time. His willingness to go forward in the strength of the Lord and fight Goliath convinced them of David’s loyalty and God’s presence in his life (1 Samuel 17:45-51).
The love and devotion of Jonathan towards David was much different than the love and devotion that King Saul had for David. Saul looked at David as an asset to his kingdom and power over his enemies when it can time to go to war. He was concerned with how David could benefit him more than a mutual agreement. David was just another person to be exploited and cast aside when his usefulness came to an end. This is the attitude most people have towards those who are labeled friends. The friendship is accepted as long as a person benefits from the experience. Once that benefit is lost or something takes its place the individuals drift apart.
Jonathan’s love was one of mutual respect and admiration for David’s character and life. The gesture Jonathan was making of giving David his clothes and weapons was not of submission to someone who was greater than himself, but of one whom he was putting complete trust in no matter what arose. In one sense it was like a treaty that was being made between David and Jonathan which Jonathan initiated and David confirmed by accepting what Jonathan was presenting to him.
Jonathan gave David his robe as an expression of he and David’s closeness personally that they would trust one another just as they would trust themselves. Jonathan’s armor was a sign they would entrust their lives to one another whenever the other was attacked in any way. Giving David his sword and belt showed they would never attack one another but defend one another at all times. While this was something that was symbolic, it would be realized in their dealings with one another in the future when Jonathan’s father would attempt to kill David out of jealousy.
This handing over what is most precious and valuable to another who is genuinely loved is how the people of God are to show Christ-like love in their lives as they deal with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ and co-heirs with Him. Love and unity are two things that go together since both can and must exist regardless of the circumstances that are being endured in the moment. Trials, sorrows, heartaches, discouragements, and conflict will destroy any relationship that is not built on the love of God which is being expressed between Jonathan and David in this exchange described in this portion of Scripture.
True Christ-like love holds nothing back from exposure, but brings all things into the light so nothing can be hidden which will later cause chaos, hurt, and confusion. This is the model Christ has provided in His death and resurrection. Apostle Paul identifies the results of Christ-like love flowing through His disciples as, “...we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:15-16, NKJV).
The smell of love is convicting to those who see it and are around it but refuse to give it. This is why it smells like death. Their refusal to give all of themselves to the Lord brings about nothing but separation from God who created them for so much more than living in their sin and dying without forgiveness and redemption. Those who have received God’s love, grow in His love, and share it without restraint. They find that life and joy is impossible to contain in themselves and must be given to others before they literally burst with its filling.
Love must first be shown to God. Jesus said that if there is any other love in a person’s life that they are not worthy of being His disciple (Exodus 20:1-7; Luke 14:25-27; Revelation 2:1-7). There is no compromise or favoritism shown in this with God. All must submit themselves to Him as the greatest love of their life or He is nothing in their life. This sounds harsh for many people who have accepted the distorted view of love the sin nature has developed rather than adopting and imitating the genuine love of God through Jesus. This is true because it is impossible to truly love others without first giving oneself completely and without condition over to the love of God through faith in Christ.
Love Serves Others
1 Samuel 18:5-9, NKJV
So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. So the women sang as they danced, and said:
“Saul has slain his thousands,
And David his ten thousands.”
Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul eyed David from that day forward.
David showed love to Jonathan and King Saul by behaving wisely. This word translated from the Hebrew as “behaved wisely” meant that David conducted himself with integrity knowing that his actions and words would reflect back on those he was serving and proclaimed to love. David took charge of the men who fought the battles of Israel in a way that earned their respect and admiration. The respect of the people also increased as they saw him leading out their husbands and sons to do battle against the enemies of Israel.
David’s ability to love those that he led was because he loved the God who created him and called him to serve in the capacity God placed him in. It was King Saul who should have been leading out the men of Israel together with David. Instead, Saul chose to remain in Jerusalem rather than place himself in harms way alongside the men of Israel. David and Jonathan’s love was expressed to the people by their willingness to place themselves in the front where the most danger was to protect and encourage those who followed them by the example they gave.
On those occasions when King Saul did go
out and return with the men from battle the people knew David had
gone out as more than a symbolic gesture, but to fight on behalf of
the nation. The women singing of Saul’s thousands he had slain
and the ten thousands David slain expressed David’s committed
love for the nation in ways King
Saul could not understand.
King Saul’s jealousy revealed his lack of the type of love shared between David, Jonathan, and the nation. Jonathan was not threatened by David’s success since his success meant the whole nation was better for it as well as the royal family. Saul became angry at David for the acclaim he received from the people over him since the lack of genuine love caused him to fear rather than rejoice along with the people and his son Jonathan. David had stopped being an asset and became a threat from that moment on. This meant that David needed to be removed because he had lost his usefulness to King Saul. True love the way God loves strives for restoration. The distorted love of sinful people seeks to destroy that which does not positively benefit them personally.
Loving others must never be based on what they can do, but upon the Lord who created them for His glory and for the purpose of knowing Him. This is why the greatest two commandments are identified by Christ as loving God the Father with everything within a person and loving everyone else as one loves themselves (Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36-40). It is precisely why a person cannot know how to love or receive love properly until they come to love the God who created them.
The jealousy King Saul experienced is common within the world. Those who serve no value to society are seen as a drain of resources rather than a way to learn more about the character of God through the uniqueness of each person. Children are endured because of their future potential to benefit society as a whole. The money and effort to raise them is viewed more as an investment than a joy and way in which we can learn more about God and humanity as a whole.
Most who say they love people look at the handicapped, mentally challenged, criminals, poor, the aged, and those who refuse to conform as less than themselves. There are also many who proclaim love for animals and nature as of greater value then humanity because they are defenseless and oppressed by people while people have a choice. Both these positions are wrong in their value of the created as being greater than God who created these things.
All of creation is important to God and has a reason for existing whether people acknowledge or appreciate that reason. Love which exemplifies the character of God and reflects His glory views all things as valuable outside of its usefulness to them personally. Everything that has been created is loved by God since He has chosen to redeem it through Christ’s atoning death and resurrection (Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 8:18-21; Revelation 21:1-4).
Loving others as God loves the entirety of His creation is to live in a manner that proclaims the justice of God instead of the favoritism often showed by people (Micah 6:8). There is one standard for everyone and special treatment is denied to all. In the distorted sense of love the world has, it sees favoritism given to those who are kind to them as an expression of love. In reality it is nothing more than entitlement which enables sinful behavior to go unchallenged in some while it is condemned in everyone else.
Genuine love is also humble. It places the needs and benefit of others above all personal things as Christ demonstrated in His life and ministry (Philippians 2:1-8). God’s children are able to do this in the power of the Spirit of God living in them because their value and security rests in Christ who died in order for them to receive life everlasting in Him (Ephesians 2:14-18). Christ-like love is impossible without first coming to know the love of God so it can be imitated in and through a person’s life. That is why love has become so distorted in the world. Extreme jealousy, murderous intent, and arrogance will eventually develop when love is attempted to be shown to others without first understanding the satisfaction and fulfillment of Christ’s love.
Genuinely loving others has been made difficult in the church because of the sinful nature still present in the lives of those who have surrendered their life to Christ. The lack of prayer and determination has allowed many who proclaim to be followers of Christ to love like the world loves rather than love like Christ has loved them. The only way to reverse this trend is to rediscover the love of God which was experienced at the moment a person came to acknowledge their sinfulness and hopelessness without Christ’s forgiveness for their sins. Much like the church of Ephesus John was instructed to write to by Christ it is crucial that Christ’s disciples “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works...” (Revelation 2:5, NKJV). God’s people are to set the standard of what love is and how to serve in love to everyone they come into contact with throughout their day and life. When this is true, Jesus Christ will be lifted up in a way that people will see the glorious love of God pouring out from His people.
1 Samuel 18:10-16, NKJV
And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.
Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul. Therefore Saul removed him from his presence, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people. And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the Lord was with him. Therefore, when Saul saw that he behaved very wisely, he was afraid of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
Saul was comforted by David’s skillful playing in the past. While he was a threat militarily there was still a need for David to be near the king. The jealousy Saul felt toward David from the people praising David more than him was now calling into question everything David did. Love that is tainted by jealousy has a tendency to turn violent and destructive to the person and all who are around them. In this case, the king desired to physically hurt David even though he provided relief to him.
Love will lead a person into places of comfort in their lives even in the midst of turmoil and stress. Fear and jealousy will also lead a person into dark places where moments of joy are stolen away by the ever present worry of conspiracy and loss of prominence in the eyes of others. Fear had now removed the only way to find relief from the depressing spirit that was attacking him. The more Saul removed love from his life the farther away he drew himself from the Lord and those who were being blessed by their obedience to His commands.
Love that comes from God leads the one who loves and shows others the way towards God and faith in Him. John speaks about love extensively in his first letter to those who were believers (1 John 2:7). The theme of the letter is focused on love that is in the world and love that comes from God. It is important for those who claim Christ as Lord to be loving Him and others in a manner that show the joy, peace, and confidence that comes from experiencing the love of God personally. There is no other love that will provide the ability to sacrifice self to help others know the love of God through their words and actions.
Jesus led the disciples by His love into service to God which would eventually cost them their comfort, preferences, and ultimately their life in obedience to the will of the Father. This was seen specifically in Jesus’ conversation with Peter about the end of his life (John 21:18-19). Love led all the disciples who followed Jesus to leave the life they had once lived to answer the call of God the Father upon them. In some cases this meant a whole new occupation and moving away from everything they knew (Matthew 19:29). For others it meant having a completely different outlook on life while remaining where they were when they came to faith in Christ (Luke 8:1-3). In every case those who became disciples of Christ could no longer live for themselves, but were led to live with the express purpose of being a beacon to show others the character of God by the way they spoke and conducted themselves.
David’s actions were motivated by love towards God instead of response to the jealousy and violence of King Saul. He would not act out against the king no matter how horribly he was treated because David saw Saul as still being anointed by God (1 Samuel 26:9). David had been anointed to be the next king after Saul, but loved God enough to trust His timing as to when he would ascend to the throne to rule over Israel (1 Samuel 16:1, 11-13, 26:10). Love leads a person to trust God’s timing instead of whatever schedule people decide is best for them. Disrespect and fear cause a person to cast aside trust to achieve their desires by forcing things to happen before or after the time God knows is best.
A person’s commitment to the Lord in love brings them to the place where they can honestly reflect the character of God in their attitudes, imitate His actions by treating others in the same way they are treated by God, and trust God to bring about their good and His glory in any and all circumstances. Christ-like love is defined by the Lord through the Apostle Paul when he wrote, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NKJV). It is only when this kind of love is expressed in the life of Gods people that they will begin demonstrating the growth of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives which gives evidence of the Lord’s presence.
Love is a great leader when it is God’s love that is being followed consistently regardless of the circumstances a person is experiencing internally or externally. It is easy to make excuses for unloving behavior when feeling sick or dealing with traumatic circumstances. This might be understandable for those who are without Christ to turn to, but is a poor excuse for a child of God to make. Love expressed when hardships are present is the kind of love that gives testimony to the overwhelming power of God’s love to change the selfish human heart into the heart of God made visible through the life of God’s child.
Are you expressing the love of God that leads to a closer walk with Him through self-sacrifice and service? Or, are you mirroring the distorted self-centered love found in those who reject the Lordship of Christ in their lives?