1 Samuel 20

1 David fled from the pastures at Ramah. He went to Jonathan and asked: »What have I done? What crime am I guilty of? What sin have I committed against your father that he tries to kill me?«

2 He said to him: »It will not happen. You will not die! My father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. So why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!«

3 David again said: »Your father has certainly known that I have found favor in your eyes.« He said: »Do not let Jonathan know this, that he not be grieved. And yet, as Jehovah lives, and you live, there is only a step between death and me.«

4 Jonathan said: »I will do anything you want.«

5 »Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival,« David replied, »and I am supposed to eat with the king. But if it is all right with you, I will go and hide in the fields until the evening of the day after tomorrow.

6 »If your father notices that I am not at the table, tell him that I begged your permission to hurry home to Bethlehem. It is after all the time for the annual sacrifice there for my whole family.

7 »If he says: ‘It is well. I will be safe.’ But if he becomes angry, you will know that he is determined to harm me.

8 »‘Therefore deal kindly with your servant. You brought your servant into a covenant of Jehovah with you. But if there is iniquity in me kill me yourself. Why should you take me to your father?’«

9 Jonathan replied: »Far be it from you! For if I should indeed learn my father decided to bring evil on you then would I not tell you about it?«

10 David asked: »Who will tell me whether or not your father gives you a harsh answer?«

11 Jonathan said: »Let us go out to the field.« So they went to the field.

12 »As Jehovah God of Israel is my witness,« Jonathan continued, »I will find out in the next two or three days how my father feels about you. If he does feel kindly toward you I will send someone to tell you.

13 »If my father plans to harm you and I do not send you away safely, may Jehovah harm me even more. Jehovah should be with you just as he used to be with my father.

14 »Someday Jehovah will wipe out all of your enemies. Then if I am still alive, please be as kind to me as Jehovah has been. But if I am dead, be kind to my family.

15 »Show the same kind of loyalty to my family as long as you live. When Jehovah has completely destroyed all your enemies,

16 »May our promise to each other still be unbroken. If it is broken, Jehovah will punish you.«

17 Once again Jonathan made David promise to love him. Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.

18 Jonathan said to him: »Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival. Your absence will be noticed if you are not at the meal.

19 »The day after tomorrow you will be missed even more. So go to the place where you hid on that other occasion. Stay by the rock.

20 »I will shoot three arrows at a target off to the side of the rock.

21 »Then I will send my servant to find the arrows. You will know if it is safe to come out by what I tell him. If it is safe, I swear by the living God Jehovah that I will say: ‘The arrows are on this side of you! Pick them up!

22 »‘If it is not safe, I will say to the boy: The arrows are farther away! This will mean that Jehovah wants you to leave. You must go.

23 »‘He will always watch us to make sure that we keep the promise we made to each other.’«

24 David hid there in the field. It was the New Moon Festival. Saul sat down to eat.

25 He ate by the wall, just as he always did. Jonathan sat across from him. Abner sat next to him. But David’s place was empty.

26 Saul was in deep thought. So he did not say anything that day. Something must have happened to make David unfit to be at the Festival. Yes, something must have happened.

27 David’s place was still empty the day after the New Moon Festival. Saul asked Jonathan: »Why has that son of Jesse not come to eat with us? He was not here yesterday, and he still is not here today!«

28 Jonathan answered Saul: »David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem.

29 »David said to me: ‘Please let me go, since our family must make a sacrifice in the city. My brother has commanded me to attend. If I have found favor in your sight, please let me get away that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.’«

30 Saul got angry with Jonathan and he said, »You are Son of a crooked and rebellious woman Jonathan! I know you have sided with Jesse’s son, Saul accused. You have no shame. You act as if you are your mother’s son not mine.

31 »As long as Jesse’s son lives on earth, neither you nor your right to be king is secure. Send some men to bring him to me. He is a dead man!«

32 Jonathan asked his father: »Why should he be killed? What has he done?«

33 Saul threw his spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. Then Jonathan was sure that his father really did want to kill David.

34 Jonathan was angry that his father had insulted David. He got up and left the table. He did not eat anything all that day.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. He took a servant boy along.

36 Jonathan told him: »When I shoot the arrows, you run and find them for me.« The boy started running, and Jonathan shot an arrow so that it would go beyond him.

37 When the boy reached the place where the arrow fell Jonathan shouted to him: »The arrow is farther on!

38 »Do not just stand there! Hurry up! »The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master.

39 The boy did not know what it all meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.

40 Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and told him to take them back to town.

41 After the boy left, David got up from behind the pile of stones. He fell on his knees and bowed with his face to the ground three times. Both he and Jonathan cried as they kissed each other. David’s grief was even greater than Jonathan’s.

42 Jonathan said to David: »God be with you. Jehovah will make sure that you and I, and your descendants and mine, will keep the sacred promise we have made to each other for as long as we live.« Then David left and Jonathan went back to town.