I recently heard a story about a 4-year-old little girl who had been very sad not to be able to go to school and see her friends during the pandemic. Wanting to cheer her up, her parents helped her start a community garden in their neighborhood. One of their neighbors, who had also been very down due to the pandemic, heard about this little 4-year-old and the garden she and her parents started. Although she did not know the family and the little girl personally, she decided to encourage her. She began leaving letters and small gifts for her throughout the week to find when she checked on the garden. This woman's act of kindness dramatically lifted the mood of her 4-year-old neighbor. She was struggling and feeling sad herself, but she knew she could show kindness. This woman's act of kindness was a reminder to me of what Scripture teaches: we are all called to spread kindness to those around us out of the kindness that we have been shown.
An overview of the Psalms, the majority of which were written by king David, makes it evident that David had been blessed by God and often took the opportunity to thank Him. We also have records of David himself showing kindness to others around him. One of those records is found in 1 Samuel 20 through the kindness he showed to Jonathan before he was the king of Israel. At this time, Saul, Jonathan's father, was the king of Israel. Saul was very jealous of David because he knew that God had promised that David would be the next king of Israel, instead of Saul's family continuing the royal line. Saul was not only jealous, but he was also furious with David. He wanted David dead. Because of this, David began to worry about his own safety and feared for his life.
Something interesting developed during this time, however; a deep friendship with Jonathan, Saul's son. As much as Saul loathed David, Jonathan loved him. David loved Jonathan as well. As David shared that he was fearful for his life because of Saul's hatred, Jonathan promised to protect him from his father's wrath. Conversely, David promised always to show kindness to Jonathan and his family. Everything culminated when Jonathan warned David to flee from Saul, and the two friends had to say goodbye. As they said goodbye, Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord's name, The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever," then David left, and Jonathan returned to town (verse 42). This exchange brings tears to my eyes. These friends truly serve as a model for us of what it looks like to show each other the kindness of God. May you and I strive to carry the kindness demonstrated by Jonathan and David, highlighted by their love, protection, and care for each other and their families.
Pull out your journal and think about this kindness that David and Jonathan demonstrated. What stands out to you about their kindness toward each other? Evaluate your own kindness. Based on your understanding of what it looks like to show kindness to those around you, how are you doing? What areas need improvement? Ask God to give you a heart of kindness like that of Jonathan and David.
Then Jonathan told David, “I promise by the Lord, the God of Israel, that by this time tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, I will talk to my father and let you know at once how he feels about you. If he speaks favorably about you, I will let you know. But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the Lord strike me and even kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live. May the Lord be with you as he used to be with my father. And may you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.”
So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, saying, “May the Lord destroy all your enemies!” And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.
Then Jonathan said, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. You will be missed when your place at the table is empty. The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid before, and wait there by the stone pile. I will come out and shoot three arrows to the side of the stone pile as though I were shooting at a target. Then I will send a boy to bring the arrows back. If you hear me tell him, ‘They’re on this side,’ then you will know, as surely as the Lord lives, that all is well, and there is no trouble. But if I tell him, ‘Go farther—the arrows are still ahead of you,’ then it will mean that you must leave immediately, for the Lord is sending you away. And may the Lord make us keep our promises to each other, for he has witnessed them.”
So David hid himself in the field, and when the new moon festival began, the king sat down to eat. He sat at his usual place against the wall, with Jonathan sitting opposite him and Abner beside him. But David’s place was empty. Saul didn’t say anything about it that day, for he said to himself, “Something must have made David ceremonially unclean.” But when David’s place was empty again the next day, Saul asked Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse been here for the meal either yesterday or today?”
Jonathan replied, “David earnestly asked me if he could go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Please let me go, for we are having a family sacrifice. My brother demanded that I be there. So please let me get away to see my brothers.’ That’s why he isn’t here at the king’s table.”
Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a whore!” he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!”
“But why should he be put to death?” Jonathan asked his father. “What has he done?” Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David.
Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat on that second day of the festival, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
The next morning, as agreed, Jonathan went out into the field and took a young boy with him to gather his arrows. “Start running,” he told the boy, “so you can find the arrows as I shoot them.” So the boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy had almost reached the arrow, Jonathan shouted, “The arrow is still ahead of you. Hurry, hurry, don’t wait.” So the boy quickly gathered up the arrows and ran back to his master. He, of course, suspected nothing; only Jonathan and David understood the signal. Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to take them back to town.
As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from where he had been hiding near the stone pile. Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.
At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.