Behind this scene, there is a very important meaning we must try to perceive and appreciate. It is not a matter of homosexuality; God be forever trusted and His word believed in the content of Who He is and what He has created for His divine purpose. He will never contradict His word, neither create an atmosphere of confusion and chaos in what He purposed and created. Men have interpreted this portion of the Bible to justify their immoral pleasures. Let’s see what is behind this friendship and why it happened the way it did. To start with, the word “love” translated here is not the word that implies sexual activities. Instead, this word’s connotations are clear political and diplomatic between the king’s son-Jonathan and his armor-bearer- the future king of Israel David. Examples are found in I Samuel 16:21 which reads: And David came to Saul and served him. Saul became very fond of him and he became his armor-bearer; I Kings 5:1: Hiram King of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, when he heard that he was anointed king in place of his father, for Hiram always loved David.
This word is a covenantal relationship as we read in I Samuel 18:1-3: Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, even his sword, his bow and his girdle. We see in this a beautiful prophetic picture translated by Jonathan, who knew that David was to be king. He did not become jealous, but sought a position next to David. In this covenant, David was to care for Jonathan’s family. I Samuel 20: 14-15 reads: While I am still alive you shall not only show me the loving-kindness of the Lord, so that I die not, but also you shall not cut of your kindness from my house forever – no, not even when the Lord has cut off every enemy of David from the face of the earth. We have here a true friendship love expressed through Jonathan who sacrificed his own right to the throne for the sake of his friend David to become king of Israel. Jonathan’s loyalty to David saved him from the hand of his father – King Saul, when Saul tried to kill him. I Samuel 18:1-2: Now Saul told Jonathan his son and all his servants that they must kill David. But Jonathan… delighted much in David and he told David, Saul my father is seeking to kill you…So David fled and escaped and came to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. And he and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth (vs.18).
This word love denotes friendship between two friends. David lamented Jonathan’s death saying, I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. It denotes covenant in Deuteronomy7:8: But because the Lord loves you and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers’ the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. When Jonathan stripped himself of his robe, his armor, his sword and bow and girdle, he was stripping himself from his right to be Saul’s successor. Saul’s jealousy toward David, can be likened him as an enemy of God and His purpose for the nation of Israel. When he heard the women praising David above him, in jealousy he said, ‘What more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul knew the kingdom had been stripped from him and God had given it to David.
Saul’s persecution of David led him to flee to the wilderness strongholds in the hill country of the wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hands… And Jonathan rose and went into the wood to David and strengthened his hand in God. He said to him, Fear not; the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father knows that too. And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David remained in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house (I Sam.23:14-18.) Jonathan’s faithfulness to David to the point of risking his life and letting go of the throne was an act of God, who gave Jonathan such committed and unselfish love bonded by a covenant to David. In Hebrew this word love (AHABAH) is a feminine word denoting affection, faithfulness as in proverb 15:17: Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it; and in Proverbs 17:9 He who covers and forgives an offense seeks love, but he who repeats or harps on a matter separated even close friends. When David and Jonathan made a covenant before the Lord, God sealed their friendship and He became their Witness. Their love for each other did not offend God; neither violated His purpose of creating man and woman for a sexual relationship. They would have never set their covenant before the Lord God, if that relationship had a different meaning all together.
Jonathan did not live long to experience the future blessings of their friendship. But while still alive, he saved David’s life and secured his position as the future king of Israel. David, on the other hand, after Jonathan’s death, sought ways to show kindness to Saul’s family for the sake of Jonathan (II Sam. 9). David asked, Is there someone of the house of Saul to whom I may show mercy and kindness of God? Ziba, Jonathan’s servant replied, Jonathan has yet a son who is lame in his feet. King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir son of Ammiel at Lo-Debar. He said to him, Fear not, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake and will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table (II Sam. 9). Miphiboseth ate at the King’s David table as long as he lived. This was an expression of David’s covenantal love for his friend Jonathan- a covenant sealed and approved by God.
True friendship is marked by sacrifices for one another. A thing that is rare in our days, for many of us can’t reciprocate the love given. Instead, this love is trampled and abused, becoming a one-sided relationship. The love between Jonathan and David constitutes a model love we should display for our friends and vice-versa. There is no way a friendship love between the same sexes should be interpreted as homosexual love; only through the corrupted mind of today’s world. A friend, the Bible says, Loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother for adversity (Prov. 17:17); and the man of many friends will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).
The word of God condemns the homosexual relationship with severe judgment. Genesis 1:26-28 confirms that He created male and female. And God said to them, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. Leviticus 18:22 emphatically condemns homosexuality: You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination. Leviticus 20:13: If a man lies with a male as if he were a woman, both men have committed an offense; they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them; Paul wrote to the Corinthians: Do you not know that the unrighteous and the wrongdoers will not inherit or have any share in the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived neither the impure nor immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, not those who participate in homosexuality; and in Romans 1:18-32: verses 26-27: For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, and the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze with lust for one another- men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrongdoing and going astray, which was fitting retribution.
To teach that the Bible promotes homosexuality, using Jonathan and David friendship experiences, and others as examples, is sheer ignorance of Scriptures; it is position oneself under the judgment of God and against His Word. And as the letter to the Hebrews says in 10:31, It is a fearful thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God! God is never sided with the immoral and unnatural to what He established, and foreign behaviors that spring forth from the flesh. Watch that you do not bring Him down to such sinful and fleshy act in perverting His purpose for creation, saying, “So says the Lord.”