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The Blue Letter Bible

1 Samuel 20 :: New Living Translation (NLT)

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Jonathan Helps David
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:1 - David now fled from Naioth in Ramah and found Jonathan. “What have I done?” he exclaimed. “What is my crime? How have I offended your father that he is so determined to kill me?”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:2 - “That’s not true!” Jonathan protested. “You’re not going to die. He always tells me everything he’s going to do, even the little things. I know my father wouldn’t hide something like this from me. It just isn’t so!”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:3 - Then David took an oath before Jonathan and said, “Your father knows perfectly well about our friendship, so he has said to himself, ‘I won’t tell Jonathan—why should I hurt him?’ But I swear to you that I am only a step away from death! I swear it by the LORD and by your own soul!”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:4 - “Tell me what I can do to help you,” Jonathan exclaimed.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:5 - David replied, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. I’ve always eaten with the king on this occasion, but tomorrow I’ll hide in the field and stay there until the evening of the third day.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:6 - If your father asks where I am, tell him I asked permission to go home to Bethlehem for an annual family sacrifice.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:7 - If he says, ‘Fine!’ you will know all is well. But if he is angry and loses his temper, you will know he is determined to kill me.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:8 - Show me this loyalty as my sworn friend—for we made a solemn pact before the LORD—or kill me yourself if I have sinned against your father. But please don’t betray me to him!”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:9 - “Never!” Jonathan exclaimed. “You know that if I had the slightest notion my father was planning to kill you, I would tell you at once.”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:10 - Then David asked, “How will I know whether or not your father is angry?”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:11 - “Come out to the field with me,” Jonathan replied. And they went out there together.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:12 - Then Jonathan told David, “I promise by the LORD, the God of Israel, that by this time tomorrow, or the next day at the latest, I will talk to my father and let you know at once how he feels about you. If he speaks favorably about you, I will let you know.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:13 - But if he is angry and wants you killed, may the LORD strike me and even kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live. May the LORD be with you as he used to be with my father.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:14 - And may you treat me with the faithful love of the LORD as long as I live. But if I die,
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:15 - treat my family with this faithful love, even when the LORD destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:16 - So Jonathan made a solemn pact with David,[fn] saying, “May the LORD destroy all your enemies!”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:17 - And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:18 - Then Jonathan said, “Tomorrow we celebrate the new moon festival. You will be missed when your place at the table is empty.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:19 - The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid before, and wait there by the stone pile.[fn]
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:20 - I will come out and shoot three arrows to the side of the stone pile as though I were shooting at a target.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:21 - Then I will send a boy to bring the arrows back. If you hear me tell him, ‘They’re on this side,’ then you will know, as surely as the LORD lives, that all is well, and there is no trouble.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:22 - But if I tell him, ‘Go farther—the arrows are still ahead of you,’ then it will mean that you must leave immediately, for the LORD is sending you away.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:23 - And may the LORD make us keep our promises to each other, for he has witnessed them.”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:24 - So David hid himself in the field, and when the new moon festival began, the king sat down to eat.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:25 - He sat at his usual place against the wall, with Jonathan sitting opposite him[fn] and Abner beside him. But David’s place was empty.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:26 - Saul didn’t say anything about it that day, for he said to himself, “Something must have made David ceremonially unclean.”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:27 - But when David’s place was empty again the next day, Saul asked Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse been here for the meal either yesterday or today?”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:28 - Jonathan replied, “David earnestly asked me if he could go to Bethlehem.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:29 - He said, ‘Please let me go, for we are having a family sacrifice. My brother demanded that I be there. So please let me get away to see my brothers.’ That’s why he isn’t here at the king’s table.”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:30 - Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a whore!”[fn] he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother?
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:31 - As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:32 - “But why should he be put to death?” Jonathan asked his father. “What has he done?”
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:33 - Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:34 - Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat on that second day of the festival, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:35 - The next morning, as agreed, Jonathan went out into the field and took a young boy with him to gather his arrows.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:36 - “Start running,” he told the boy, “so you can find the arrows as I shoot them.” So the boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:37 - When the boy had almost reached the arrow, Jonathan shouted, “The arrow is still ahead of you.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:38 - Hurry, hurry, don’t wait.” So the boy quickly gathered up the arrows and ran back to his master.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:39 - He, of course, suspected nothing; only Jonathan and David understood the signal.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:40 - Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to take them back to town.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:41 - As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from where he had been hiding near the stone pile.[fn] Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David.
Unchecked Copy Box1Sa 20:42 - At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.[fn]
NLT Footnotes
Hebrew with the house of David.
Hebrew the stone Ezel. The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
As in Greek version; Hebrew reads with Jonathan standing.
Hebrew You son of a perverse and rebellious woman.
As in Greek version; Hebrew reads near the south edge.
This sentence is numbered 21:1 in Hebrew text.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Full copyright information is provided here. Visit the New Living Translation website.

For more information on this translation, see the NLT Preface.

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