Sister M.G. Hand, Rt. 2, Jasper Ala., asks that we write on David and Jonathan. In her letter making the requests, which appears in this number of the Signs, she also makes some beautiful comment upon the meditation which she had in a crowded bus concerning the travels of the children of Israel in the wilderness, when they were bitten by fiery serpents, and the Lord command Moses to make a fiery serpent, “and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” We feel this subject has a tie-in with the one we have been asked to write upon and we would first like to offer some thoughts in connection with it. We will begin by relating an actual experience which we had many years ago. We filled an appointment to speak at our father's church, where we united in 1908, and quite a few of our relatives and friends came out to the meeting. After speaking from the text, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,” one of our feminine cousins, who had been a great worker in the Missionary Church, approached us and said in substance, “Lester, you know, whosoever of the children of Israel, in the wilderness, that would look upon the serpent of brass lived.” She was applying it to the free-will action of the creature. We replied by saying we could not accept that generalization of the matter and told her if she would consult her Bible, she would find that the correct reading is: “And it shall come to pass that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” Num. 21:8. There is no free-agency involved in this. One had to be bitten by the fiery serpent first, and then he would in due time, for the word when implies that he definitely will look, and he shall live, not may live. While all of the Adamic race are sinners, only those who are bitten and who feel the poisonous venom of the serpent of sin encompassing them as a great octopus, from whose tentacles there is absolutely no escape, will look to Jesus. The whole need not a physician. Only such characters as experience the exceeding sinfulness of sin have any occasion of being seriously concerned about being delivered from the power of Satan. John quotes Jesus as having said: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” The Son of man must be lifted up, and in this gospel age he is preached as the way, the truth, and the life, and there is salvation in none other. This same writer said, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” He that knew no sin was made sin for us, that we through him might be made the righteousness of God. The “whosoever believeth in him” is one who knows that it is the work of God that we believe on him whom he hath sent. None can look upon or behold the lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world, except by faith, and faith is the gift of God. Our sister has written beautifully about this subject, so we will pass on to the matter of David and Jonathan.
Sister Hand says, “If we should have a mind and feel that we have light on the subject,” she would like for us to write an article on David and Jonathan and their unusual strong friendship. She then says that “according to nature it would seem that Jonathan would have disliked David, because he was the son of a king, and according to custom he should have been the next king. But still he loved David as his own soul. Saul disliked David, but because of the things David did, he promised him his daughter.” She then asks, “Who is Jonathan a figure of? Those three arrows, what were they?” The subject under consideration is dealt with more extensively in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth chapters of First Samuel, and it might be well for our readers to read those chapters by way of refreshing their memories on the subject matter. It occurs to us that the first verse of the eighteenth chapter might suffice for a text. It reads as follows:
“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.”
David had just come from the slaughter of the Philistine (that great Goliath who had caused king Saul's best soldiers to tremble with fear), and king Saul had delegated his son, “Abner, the captain of the host,” to inquire and find out about the stripling David. He was brought before Saul, who questioned him as to whose son he was, etc. Jonathan being a son of Saul was present and heard David give an account of himself and the dealings of the Lord with him while he watched over the flock and enabled him to deliver a lamb from the paw of the lion, and the paw of the bear. It was out of this experience that he gained sufficient confidence and faith in Israel's God to go forth to a victorious battle with Goliath. Our text says, “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.” To us, this sets forth most beautifully what takes place when the Lord's anointed ones get together and tell of his dealings with them. We like very much the expression, “the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David.” the experiences of the Lord's people are so interwoven that when one relates his experience of grace it embraces the experience of every heaven born soul, and they feel inseparably bound together. We wish to emphasize that “Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” It is claimed that the strongest love that nature knows anything about is that of a woman towards the child she bears, but the love which existed between Jonathan and David was stronger than that of a woman. God established that fact when he spoke by the mouth of the prophet, Isaiah, and asked, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Words cannot fully express such love. It requires actions. Therefore the Lord so directs and overrules all things so as to magnify his own power and glory as when he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life. In order that this love between Jonathan and David should be thoroughly, and shall we say gloriously manifested, the very opposite of love had to play its part. Therefore, jealousy, which is as cruel as the grave, sprung up in Saul's heart towards David. After David had slain Goliath, the women cried, Saul had slain his thousands, but David his ten thousands. Therefore Saul determined to either slay David himself, which he tried unsuccessfully to do, or to have others slay him, which also failed. He scolded his own daughter, who he had given to David to be his wife, for permitting him to escape capture by the men sent to take him to Saul to be killed. Saul then hated David with a perfect hatred, but God was for him, and how wonderfully did God provide by various ways and means for the safety of his life. Only his watchcare over his darling Son, Jesus, when Herod was seeking his life, appears to have exceeded it. Yes, sister Hand, there is a tie which is stronger than anything known in nature. It is that love which brought Jonathan and David into a covenant relationship extending beyond the powers of this world and shall endure forever. It caused Jonathan to seek the safety of David to the point of endangering his own life, for Saul threw a javelin at him when he learned of the the friendship and fellowship which existed between him and David. Jonathan who hitherto had been an intercessor for David with his father then became convinced of his father's eternal wrath and vengeance towards David, and had already planned with David the manner in which he would advise him of his father's attitude towards him, and whether he would have to flee or not. They had agreed that Jonathan would shoot three arrows, which may be of considerable significance, at the stone Ezel. This was how David was to know about the matter: If Jonathan said, “Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the Lord liveth. But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the Lord hath sent thee away.” When the morning was come Jonathan went into the field at the time appointed and shot the arrows: “And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, 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 anything: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.” I Sam. 20:37-39. It is written, “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.” How true this is of spiritual things. Those who know not the Lord can have no understanding of the matter, but those who have been born of the Spirit of God, know the meaning of the language when they hear it spoken. Our conclusion is that Jonathan as intercessor for David was a type of Christ, and that the love which existed between them was but typical of that which existed between the Lord Jesus Christ and his people. He was a Friend who sticketh even closer than a brother, and not even death shall ever be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Ofttimes in our church relation we discover to our sorrow that where there are fleshly ties among the members, they will cling together and neglect to do that which should be done for the best interests of the church, but where such is the case, sooner or later it will be seen that those who sowed to the flesh did of the flesh reap corruption. How good it is to see faithful brethren standing up for the doctrine and the order of the house, even where it involves the exclusion of a bosom companion, or a son or daughter. We have sometimes remarked in this connection, that while blood is thicker than water, the love of God is stronger and more biding than the blood of flesh. As further evidence of Jonathan's being a type of Christ, he was slain by the Philistines, or his enemies, and when David came to be king, he inquired, “Is there yet any that is left of the house of Saul, that I may shew him kindness for Jonathan's sake.” Anything less than the love of would not cause a man to shew kindness to the house of one who had been such an arch enemy as Saul had been to David. We could go on and on, and never tell the half of it. The arrows were undoubtedly diviner's arrows, showing the will of God. In other words, the lot was cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof was of the Lord. The blessed word of God is full of evidence to the effect that no weapon formed against his anointed ones shall prosper or accomplish the designs of those who make them. May we, by faith, commit our life and our all into his care and keeping, being assured that if God be for us, nothing can effectively be against us.
Elder R. Lester Dodson
Signs of the Times
Volume 115, No. 10