1Samuel 18:1 When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.
David the shepherd reports his victory over Goliath to King Saul. At the same time he meets Saul’s son Jonathan. This is a passage about the friendship that springs up between these young men – “soul bound to soul”. Many have used this passage to illustrate the God-given gift of a rich and deep friendship. This is a friendship that leads to a commitment (covenant) to share life, armour and the approval of all the people. Such friendships are to be treasured: and those of us who are privileged with this can be challenged to spend time and energy nurturing our friendships.
Having said this, this is also a passage that can challenge perspective.... our perspectives as its reader. The beauty of the friendship between David and Jonathan can open up space to see a relationship blessed with the gift of romance and love. While many people will find it very difficult – or even blasphemous - to ascribe a romantic relationship to David and Jonathan, but this passage has also offered hope to those who have experienced the bitter rejection of Christians based on their sexual orientation. The story of the love between these two young soldiers can offer hope to people who find themselves attracted to people of the same gender.
Those who follow Jesus encourage couples to committed loving relationships. We can learn much from the example of David and Jonathan.
Ordinary 28 / Pentecost +21
50 A Friend of Souls
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 304.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.