Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” (1 Sam 20:4)
The love between Jonathan and David is well known; indeed it is the most elevated example of an actual friendship that we are given in the Old Testament, if not in the whole of the Bible – excluding, of course, the friendship that Jesus offers to all who follow Him. I Sam 18:3 tells us that “Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.” (NKJV) Other versions translate this as “he loved him as himself.” This takes us immediately to the model of love that Jesus teaches when He introduces the parable of the good Samaritan: “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and your neighbour as yourself.” If we need to see an example of how Jesus wants us to love one another, we look at how Jonathan loved David.
We could study in depth what details that we are given about their relationship and find spiritual meaning in all of them; but what speaks loudest to me is who – or what – David and Jonathan actually represent in the Bible narrative. Jonathan is Saul’s son, and Saul represents the dynasty of the flesh. However David, as we know, is a man ‘after God’s own heart;’ he is a prophetic type and the human ancestor of Jesus, and he represents the dynasty of the Spirit. The anger that Jonathan’s covenant of loyalty to David provokes in Saul is the anger of the devil himself who knows that it is Christ’s rule, and not his own, that will ultimately be established on the Earth:
“Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom.” (1 Sam 20: 30-31)
In “choosing the son of Jesse,” the son of Saul chose the dynasty of the Spirit over the dynasty of the flesh. Prophetically, Jonathan died to self and turned to Jesus. When we love, we make the same choice for God. In the immortal words of Deuteronomy 30:19-20, we “…choose life, that you and your descendants may live, that you may love the LORD your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days.” To love others is ultimately to love God, and there is only one way to do that, which is the way that Jesus tells us to love him. It’s quite simple. He says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
A husband can long for his wife; he can miss her when they are apart; he can love to be around her; he can admire her beauty and her qualities and can enjoy her conversation. He can miss her, desire her, and seek her presence: but unless he does the things that she likes and avoids what she doesn’t like he is not actually loving her. It’s the same with the Lord: we can long for His presence and spend time with Him; we can enjoy His conversation and immerse ourselves in His word, but we aren’t loving Him if we ignore the things that He asks of us and grieve His Spirit by doing what He doesn’t like.
Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” In the same way, therefore, we look to Jesus as we make our choices throughout the day and say to Him “Whatever you yourself desire, I will do it for you.” Colossians 3: 17 tells us: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through him,” This doesn’t mean we tag “in Jesus’ name” onto everything we do and say: it presupposes that we can’t actually do anything in the name of the Lord unless we know that it’s what He desires. We can’t separate loving God from loving our brother, which is what the apostle John makes clear in his first epistle: “He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.” (1 John 2:10)
To love our brothers and sisters, we need to abide in the light, and we achieve that by doing what He says. As we do, the Kingdom of the Son of Jesse is established on the Earth.