Shoot your arrow
Speak the truth
There’s an epic story of deep male friendship told in the Old Testament. It’s also tragic. These two unlikely young men are each royal. One is the son of the current (and first) of Israel, Saul. His name is Jonathan. The other is a shepherd/giant slayer who has been anointed by God to be the next king of Israel. His name is David.
It’s a friendship that should have never worked. David was insanely popular with the people, and as he began fighting in Israel’s military, everyone discovers he’s not only a warrior, but he’s an inspiring leader.
King Saul gets progressively more jealous. It causes a deep strain on Jonathan and David’s friendship. There comes a point that Jonathan (who has been in denial about how much his father hates David) arranges a clandestine meeting with David.
Jonathan tells David to hide behind some boulders in a field. He and his servant will go out, and Jonathan will shoot some arrows. If the arrows fall short of where David is hiding, things are OK; Saul is just moody. If the arrows soar beyond where David is hiding, things are bad; Saul intends to murder David, and he’ll need to flee.
The day comes. Jonathan “innocently” brings up David in conversation with his dad. When his dad becomes irate, Jonathan testily defends David to him. It only escalates.
Then Saul became angry with Jonathan and shouted, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you are siding with Jesse’s son to your own shame and to the disgrace of your mother? Every day Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure. Now send for him and bring him to me — he must die! ”
Jonathan answered his father back, “Why is he to be killed? What has he done? ”
Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to kill him, so he knew that his father was determined to kill David.
So Jonathan shoots his arrows beyond where David is hiding. They tearfully must admit that their friendship must move to a convenant friendship — promises are made to forever bless the other since they will not be able to enjoy the proximity of their friendship.
There are so many profound observations that could be made about this epiv friendship. I’d simply look to comment on the power of communication.
In this arrangement, the point wasn’t where the arrows landed. The point wasn’t how far or short Jonathan could shoot. The point wasn’t how good his aim was. The point was simply to communicate a message. Stay or leave.
In the same way, when I write, I want my words to communicate a message. I may shoot too far. I may shoot short. I have no idea where you’re hiding out there reading my content. All that I hope is that you get a message. And hopefully the message.
There’s no doubt that David became Israel’s greatest king. We will never know if Jonathan would have been a great king. He died in battle. We do know he was a great friend.
Jonathan’s arrows communicated bad news. A few years later, Jonathan traveled to find David in exile to communicate another message:
Saul’s son Jonathan came to David in Horesh and encouraged him in his faith in God, saying, “Don’t be afraid, for my father Saul will never lay a hand on you. You yourself will be king over Israel, and I’ll be your second-in-command. Even my father Saul knows it is true.”
Jonathan found David to encourage him in his faith in God. That’s a true friend. In spite of how things looked with David living in exile, Jonathan said, “You will be king, and I’ll be your second-in-command.” Only one of those statements would come true. Jonathan would die before he ever saw David again.
I don’t know how all this hits you today, but one thing I’ll say, shoot your arrow. Even if you must speak hard truth to someone you care about. Shoot your arrow.
I have been preaching through a series on three kings of Israel - Saul, Jonathan, and David. You may be gripped by some of the points that are made about Jonathan in this message/podcast.
1 Samuel 23:16–17
Ive always loved the story of the friendship of David and Jonothon, and Ive always prayed to be a friend like Jonothon, an encourager,, one who uplifts brothers and sisters in Christ when they are struggling, and down, and in need to a faith booster, through the Word and prayer..