I SAMUEL 18:1-6; 19:1-7; 20:1-17
A sign read, ?There is no limit to the good that a man can do, if he does not care who gets the credit.?
If you really do not care who gets the credit, then you can just enjoy yourself and do all kinds of good deeds for others. Just be glad that it is done, and do not worry about who gets the credit on earth, because your heavenly Father knows.
- I.????????????????? FRIENDSHIP FOR LIFE
????????? If you do not care who wears the crown or gets the credit in the Christian life, God will take you to heights you have never dreamed. The biblical character in the Old Testament, who played a positive supportive role in the life of a leader, was Jonathan. I have not heard many messages on Jonathan. I have heard several messages on both King Saul and David, but none on Jonathan. If Jonathan were with us today, he would say to us, ?you live in an age when winning at all costs and looking out for number one are exalted virtues.? The words of Proverbs 20:6 could have been written today: ?Many a man proclaims his own loyalty, But who can find a trustworthy man?? We have forgotten what it means to serve others or exhibit true loyalty. In such a time as this, what Jonathan would tell us becomes doubly important: Support a Leader and Save a Nation or Community, whichever applies to your situation.
Jonathan has credibility like no one else in the Bible to deliver such a message to us today. While other people in David?s life were trying to keep him down by putting limitations on him, Jonathan did the opposite. He lifted David up and strengthened him so that he could meet his trials and defeat his oppressors.
Jonathan and David became good friends soon after David killed Goliath. The Scripture says, and I read from 1 Samuel 18:1-5. From that time on, Jonathan was willing to do anything to help David, and that was good because David would need a lot of help. Every potential leader or leader needs a lot of help from those who do not care about who gets the credit. Such persons are rare to find in our competitive society.
If you read the text carefully, you would find out that Jonathan became one in spirit with David (18:1). This was understandable because David and Jonathan had much in common. They were both courageous and capable young warriors who possessed profound faith in the Lord. Both had initiated faith-motivated attacks against militarily superior Philistines that had resulted in great victories for Israel. Jonathan loved David (v. 3). That love inspired him to make a covenant with David, one that was expressed with extravagant gifts to the new celebrity. The fact that Jonathan gave David the garb and armaments originally reserved for the heir to Saul?s throne clearly possesses symbolic and thematic significance. In an apologetic vein, it also provides an explanation of how David came to possess these coveted tokens of power.
David was taken out of his comfort zone. The day David killed Goliath everything changed in his life. He went from unknown boy to hero and from shepherd to leader. David, a shepherd boy and a nobody, became a member of the royal household and as such did not prove disappointing. Nevertheless, the affection and the favor that David found in the sight of King Saul became short-lived. The song of celebration and victory the women of Israel sang for David put him on the wrong side of the king: ?Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.? King Saul became jealous of David and constantly tried to destroy him.
From this time forward, David?s life was a roller coaster. One moment David was leading the army of Israel and the next moment he was hiding from the same army because Saul was deploying it to try to kill him.
David faced many severe challenges. His assignments from the king were difficult and the expectations of the people were high. Without help, he would not survive. Furthermore, after witnessing four attempts on his life in one day, David certainly had no reason to doubt Saul?s determination to kill him. Yet, to escape the king?s attacks, David would have to abandon the two most significant people in his life, his best friend Jonathan and the wife of his youth, Michal. Even if he were to escape and live, would life be worth living under those circumstances?
Hoping he was wrong, but fearing he was right, David ?fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan (20:1) to discuss the matter further. Perhaps the fault was David?s; perhaps he had committed some ?transgressions? or ?sin? against King Saul. If so, then, he could repent, make reparations, and end the relentless attacks; his life of love and friendship could return to him once more.
David?s melancholic musings seemed nonsense to Jonathan, and he rejected the conclusions. If anyone should know Saul?s thought processes, it was Jonathan, for Saul did not ?do anything, great or small, without confiding in Jonathan (20:2).
However, David who had ?wisdom like that of an angel of God? to ?discern good and evil? (2 Sam. 14:17, 20), saw what Jonathan could not. The cold facts of the situation pointed to only one conclusion: Saul was passionately determined to kill David. In fact, at that moment David was ?only a step? ahead of ?death.? Yet, Saul had kept the evil scheme a secret from Jonathan so that his son would not ?be grieved? (20:3, 34).
Jonathan, like David, had much to lose if the accusations against Saul proved true; he would forgo the companionship of his best friend and experience alienation from his father. In an effort to put the matter to rest, he agreed to cooperate with David in the investigation. Whatever plan David might put forth Jonathan would follow it. Therefore, at every turn, Jonathan helped David. This made all the difference for David, the nation, and the people.
David, the man who the Old Testament describes frequently as possessing success-induced wisdom, had an ingenious ploy to force King Saul to reveal his real intentions toward David. The plan that David put forth was simple, yet effective. If proactively, safeguarded David by sequestering him, and it avoided any use of force. Granted, Jonathan had to lie to his father about why David would not show up at the royal court and supper for two days. Realize that Jonathan was doing this to save and preserve innocent life.
Jonathan?s role would be very complicated. Most of the time during the next two days, he was to be merely a passive observer of his father. However, when his father commented on David?s absence, Jonathan was to come out with a persuasive, though false, excuse to account for David?s empty chair at the meals. After that he was to note his father?s reaction: a positive response to Jonathan?s words would mean that David ?is safe? (20:7); a hostile response would mean that Saul was ?determined to harm? David.
- II.?? SEEING THE BIG PICTURE
????????? The question you need to ask is this: ?What empowered Jonathan to put David ahead of himself and serve him? After all, Jonathan was the prince of Israel and the rightful heir to the throne. Nevertheless, the first time he met David; Jonathan understood David?s potential (unlike King Saul, David?s brothers, or even David?s father). Jonathan saw the big picture. If you see the big picture, you stop being in competition with God ordained leader and become a supporter and a team player to save the community where God has placed you.
Jonathan?s big picture thinking allowed him to see himself from the right perspective. The first great advantage of seeing the big picture is being able to judge yourself realistically. If you overestimate your value, you may do things just to feed your ego. That was King Saul?s problem.? If you underestimate your value, you may become discouraged and neglect doing the things you can do. That is why many Christians are sitting on the sidelines, while a few are doing the work of the Lord. However, the big picture gives you an accurate picture of yourself. When Jonathan saw David after he killed Goliath, the prince realized that David had the potential to be a better leader than his father or himself. Therefore, Jonathan realized that he was not the best person to ascend to the throne. Jonathan had the realistic evaluation of his gifts and potential as a leader. He was content to play a supportive role to a highly gifted leader to save his nation. Such a conclusion comes with discernment, prayer, and contentment of life. Jonathan reminds me of Andrew, who was a brother of Peter and one who brought Peter to Jesus. Andrew was content to be a team player and supporter, while Peter rose to leadership.
Jonathan?s big picture thinking allowed him to see others from the right perspective. When Jonathan saw himself realistically, he was free to treat others as they deserved. That meant preserving David?s life and serving him. Jonathan knew that helping David would benefit the kingdom more than promoting himself as Israel?s future ruler. And while King Saul, his father, continually tried to manipulate situations to eliminate David as a threat to him, Jonathan worked hard to help his friend. He strategically invested his time and energy for David?s success. Jonathan saw himself as a kingmaker and he worked hard at it. The problem with our world is that everybody wants to be a king, but nobody wants to be a kingmaker, or a subject of a king. The problem with the church and contemporary Christianity is that there are more who want to undermine spiritual leaders than to help the work of the Lord to succeed.
Jonathan?s big picture thinking allowed him to do what is right from God?s perspective. Often our personal ambition clouds God?s direction for our lives. Nonetheless, Jonathan?s grasp of the big picture helped him to understand what God desired. Even though it did not benefit him personally, Jonathan obeyed God and did not whine about his rights. The problem with today?s Christians is the attitude that says, ?What is in it for me?? Many people have become Christians with a consumer mentality. Their main goal is, ?what can the Lord do for me; what can the pastor do for me; what can the church do for me?? There should be a change of focus and attitude. The objective of every believer should be, ?What can I do for the Lord; what can I do to help the pastor; what can I do to help the church realize her vision and mission.? Your purpose in the Christian life should not be what I could get but what can I give; what can I contribute to the success of the Lord?s work. We need more Jonathans today in the Lord?s work. Moses had his Joshua and Caleb; Elijah had his Elisha; Daniel had Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego; Peter had Andrew; Paul had Barnabas; Billy Graham has Cliff Barrows and Bev. Shea. The greatest need in a leader?s life is to have a Jonathan beside him/her.
Jonathan gave up his own future on the throne to serve the rightful person who would take it. The result? The reign of David was the greatest in Israel?s history. Due to his loyalty and deep commitment to David?s future, Jonathan ended up saving the entire nation of Israel from destruction.
- III.?????????? WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
This is what Jonathan is saying to you: ?Only when you see what is important will you be willing to do the seemingly unimportant. I did not serve David because I lacked potential. I look back on my life; my greatest joy was helping David succeed to the throne. Remember, it takes many kingmakers to make a king!?
Every time you encounter people with potential, you must make a choice. You can either hurt them or help them. Many Christians today choose to hurt leaders rather than to help them succeed. Jonathan?s father, King Saul chose to hurt David. What would have happened if Jonathan?s father had helped David? King Saul could have spent his time on productive instead of destructive things. The kingdom would have united instead of divided. Jonathan?s relationship with his father would have improved greatly. In addition, God?s blessings would have continued on his father?s leadership. A legacy of leadership would have been passed down to David. Jonathan goes on to say to you: ?Sadly, in the end, my father did not hurt David; he hurt himself.?
Here is the good news: ?As a supporter you share in your leader?s success.? When you help a leader, you share in whatever he/she achieves. As I helped my friend David, I knew that I was serving God and whatever benefits the nation of Israel received came about in part through my efforts. The same is true for you. You do not have to be on the front lines or the lime light, to share in the rewards or to make a great impact. Support your leader and you can help save your community and nation.
????????? Sovereign Lord and King please empower our church family to see the big picture so we may know our individual place and are glad to be a part of something great. Help us to cultivate the right attitude toward the potential and success of others, and possess a servant?s heart that receives great joy in adding value to leaders. Amen.
Happy New Year