In our never-take-no-for-an-answer, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps culture, perhaps it is difficult to understand Jonathan’s actions in 1 Samuel 20:12-17. We live in a world where self-promotion is expected; encouragement to “look out for #1” is covertly or overtly stated in almost every advertisement. We often look for validation in job titles, paychecks, hit counts and followers.
Jonathan is the man who, according to normal succession rules, has the right to become king upon the death of Saul. Conventional wisdom would teach Jonathan to align himself with the people who will help him gain and keep power.
Along comes David. This is the same David that was anointed by Samuel as Saul’s replacement. Also the same David who is being blessed by God in everything that he sets his hand to do. The young shepherd boy who had the audacity to think that he could take on a giant and live to tell about it becomes acquainted with Jonathan.
Jonathan faced a choice. He could accept or reject what was becoming increasingly clear. God’s program was for David to be the next king.
Jonathan’s response shows that he believed God was behind Samuel and David and he chose to align himself with what God had revealed. Jonathan’s actions show that he understood that he would be #2 in the kingdom and he was OK with that. He wanted to be right where God placed him.
The question I have to ask myself is whether I am comfortable doing the tasks and being the person God has called me to be? Or, am I questioning my worth as a result of comparing what God has me doing with someone else who is being used in a ministry that has a large following or wide influence? Am I OK with being a #2 or 3 or 10 or 150 or not being recognized at all?
We know from 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 that God so arranges the Church that every member has a role that is necessary for the health of the whole body. Some are given very prominent roles others are given roles that are hardly even noticed. Yet very role is important. The believer is to discover that role and be obedient within it. Our job is to be a faithful steward of the responsibility we have been given (1 Corinthians 4:2).
I am grateful that we have an example in Jonathan of one who was confident in God and confident in his status before God and allowed himself to be “demoted” for the benefit of the nation. As a result, Jealousy and resentment had no foothold. May it be so in our congregations.