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I SAMUEL 20:39

“The lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.”

The narrative in the Holy Scriptures of Jonathan and David is peculiarly interesting to my heart. “As David returned from the slaughter of Goliath, the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite. And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father’s house. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his garments, even to his bow, and to his girdle. And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself 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. And it came to pass, as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands. And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom? And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.” (l Sam. 17:57-58; 18:1-9). Ah, from that moment so viciously cruel was Saul’s jealousy, and so persistent his determination to kill David: but Jonathan’s determination was to save him from the murderous jealousy of his father. I love to think that this was love’s determination in love’s covenant, for Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul (1 Sam. 20:16-17). In this covenant is pictured forth that everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure (2 Sam. 23:5), concerning Christ and his church (Jer. 24:7; 31:33-35). “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee” (Jer. 31:3). And in this Love’s covenant is love’s determination, love’s eternal election, love’s predestination as declared by the apostle Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6). In all the transactions of Jehovah, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, there is ever being revealed to the chosen in Christ Jesus Jehovah’s eternal delight in them. But more of this a little further along in our writing.

So persistent was the hatred of Saul and his determination to destroy David that he surely would be successful. But the counsel of Jehovah’s will was otherwise, for “the Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand” (Isaiah 14:24). Thus also it was in relation to David; and is unto every thing in creation. Every atom in the universe God gave being to, it has its decreed place, its sphere, and will fulfill neither more or less than Jehovah’s eternal purpose therein who gave it being.

But though God had spoken to David in the past, yet he is troubled, filled with fears, and said to Jonathan, As the Lord liveth, there is but a step between me and death (1 Sam. 20:3). Please read this entire twentieth chapter; it is one of the most interesting narratives of the love of two men, Jonathan and David, ever published among the children of men. “Jonathan said unto David, Come, and let us go out into the field. And they went out both of them into the field.” And there they made a covenant. Jonathan promised to find out definitely what was the purpose of Saul, his father, concerning David; and he would come and tell David, and made an arrangement how he would let David know how it was, whether life or death. So David hid himself in the field. Jonathan found out that Saul was determined, if it were possible, to destroy David. “And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field, at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee? And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste; stay not. And Jonathan’s lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master. But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter. And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city. And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times; and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed; and Jonathan went into the city.” And when Jonathan was slain in battle against the Philistines, David in his soul’s distress exclaims, “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high place. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women. How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Sam. 1:25-27).

“The lad knew not any thing” of the covenant, the love, and the signification of the shooting of the arrows, it was Jonathan’s and David’s secret. So in the deep and spiritual sense there are transactions between the Most High and his people, between Christ and his church, of which the world knows nothing. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matt, 11:25-26). “It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given” (Matt. 13:11). There are such glorious, unspeakable matters between the Lord and his people which are known to no others. Yes, all the spiritual matters between Christ and his church are so personal and in such privacy that only he, the Head, and they, the church, the members of his body, only the Lamb of God, and the bride, the Lamb’s wife, know. It has pleased the Lord to call them “my darling,” my only one; he has no other. “You only have I known (Amos 3:2), and the spouse of Christ sings, My beloved is mine, and I am his, he feedeth among the lilies (S. Song 2:16), and Christ, speaking of the church, says, My dove, my undefiled, is but one, she is the choice one of her that bear her (S. Song 6:9).

Let us read together in the forty-fifth of Genesis, “Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph: doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt . Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither; for God did send me before you, to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land; and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you, to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt . Haste ye, go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God bath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee, for yet there are five years of famine, lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty. And, behold, your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin, that it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste, and bring down my father hither. And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover, he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that, his brethren talked with him.” Oh what a meeting was this between Joseph and his brethren! Too sacred, too touchingly intimate for any others to witness. The Egyptians knew not anything, only Joseph and his brethren knew the matter; and the intimacy of a poor lost sinner, that mercy, and salvation, and reconciliation felt in the forgiveness of sin through Jesus the dear Savior, in his precious blood is so sacredly personal and secret that no other one knows the matter in those moments but the Lord and that favored sinner. “The lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.” Look at this picture in John 8:3-11. There stands the adulterous woman with downcast eyes before Jesus and her yelping accusers, who say, “Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground.” What did Jesus write? Only Jesus and the woman with downcast eyes knew this matter. No one but the woman read what Jesus wrote; the rest knew not anything of this matter, and while Christ was writing with his finger on the ground he, by his Spirit, in his sovereign, abounding graciousness is writing in her heart, and oh that voice, those words! All her days that sweet gracious voice is saying this in her heart, and bearing its sacred fruit in her life: “Go, and sin no more.” This also is a matter, oh unspeakably blessed in her life, which only Jesus and the woman knew. The apostle Peter while in the garden of Gethsemane was a valiant defender of Christ, and would have slain any one who would lay a finger upon him, and did with his sword cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant, “The servant’s name was Malchus” (John 18:10). But as he warms himself at the fire, in the palace of the high priest, when a maid challenges him, and accuses him of being one of Christ’s disciples, where, Peter, is thy bravery? There he is denying Jesus, denying him with oaths and curses. Are you, child of God, saying, I would never have done that? Oh there is the precious Savior knowing, hearing all that Peter is, and is saying. But amidst the reviling, mockings, insults, cruelties to which he was subjected he has thoughts of Peter, and turned and looked upon Peter. Oh only Jesus and Peter knew all this matter. When their eyes met, and Peter remembered that word, “Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.” What took place in those moments only Jesus and Peter knew, the rest, that wicked throng, knew not anything. That look! Was it a look of scorn, of utter loathing? Oh no! Words cannot portray what was in that look; it passes all telling. It went all through him; so transformed the denying, cursing Peter. He leaves that fire where he was, warming himself; he went out a broken-hearted, contrite sinner. “Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Very many instances are given us in the Scriptures of the personal intimacy between God and his chosen ones, as between the crucified thief and the Savior. To this dying thief was given a vision that Christ crucified was the King of glory, the Lord of hosts, the King of Israel, through his sufferings, his blood, his travail, entering his kingdom, soon to ascend into the heavens, and he is moved to cry, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43). Only the crucified Jesus Christ and the crucified thief knew the matter; that reviling mob knew not anything. When Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus, and a light shone round about him above the brightness of the sun, and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, in the Hebrew tongue, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And be said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest: it is hard to kick against the pricks.” Only Jesus and Saul of Tarsus knew the matter; to the men that journeyed with him it was meaningless, they knew not any thing (Acts 9:1-7). There are frequent experiences that are ours, between us and our God, so personal, of which it can be described in the saying, “The lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.”

Raleigh, North Carolina

Volume 96, No. 7
July 1928,