James Smith, 1859
"Only Jonathan and David knew the matter." 1 Samuel 20:39
David was in great danger from the jealousy and enmity of Saul. Jonathan had no suspicion of his father's design. But he agrees with David to endeavor to ascertain it, and to let him know. The plan was laid, Jonathan went to court, Saul manifested his murderous intention. Jonathan was grieved, and came out into the field with his armor bearer, to warn David by shooting an arrow. The lad was sent to gather up the arrows, and carry them into the city; then David came forth, and Jonathan proved the depth of his friendship, and the constancy of his love. "But the lad did not know anything. Only David and Jonathan knew the matter."
Jonathan was David's superior, being the king's son. His name signified, "given of God," or "the gift of the Lord." He was heir apparent to the throne. He may represent Jesus, who is the Son of God, the brightness of his glory, and heir of all things. He is also, God's unspeakable gift. And what a gift! A gift that comprehends every other gift, and comprehends every good thing. Its greatness is unsearchable. We are therefore warranted to conclude, that as God has given it—then he will now freely give us all things; and it was given freely, without solicitation, and without desert. He was given to be our Savior, our portion, and our everlasting all. He was given absolutely, to be for our good, and to be ours forever.
David was the son of Jesse, comparatively a poor man. His father was a farmer, and David had kept his sheep. He was now driven out from his home, and sentenced to death by the king. But he was greatly loved by the king's son. He may represent the sinner, quickened by the Spirit—but still under the law, and therefore condemned already. He is indeed poor. Yet he is beloved, and beloved, not by Jonathan—but by Jesus. Loved with a love more strong, more tender, and more lasting; and yet Jonathan loved David as his own soul. As David afterward sung, his love was wonderful, passing the love of woman. But the love of Jesus was more wonderful, for he loved us more than his own soul, and therefore he laid down his life for us!
The secret between David and Jonathan, consisted in a covenant of salvation, a plan to save David's life, an agreement to devise means, that he may not die. And there is such a secret between Jesus and us; and we may trace out an analogy too.
Jonathan stood up before his father to plead for David, and Jesus stood up in the everlasting covenant, to plead for us: therefore it is said, "He made intercession for the transgressors."
Jonathan shot the arrow from his bow to arouse, alarm, and inform David of his danger; and Jesus sent the arrow of conviction right home to our hearts, arousing, alarming, and informing us of our danger. We were alive without the law once—but when the commandment came, sin revived, and woe died. Then all hope of salvation by works was given up, and the sentence of death was felt in all its dreadful power.
The arrow of Jonathan, brought David out of his hiding-place, to bow and weep before him. Just so, the arrow of conviction, brought us out of our false refuges, and brought us to the feet of Jesus. There we confessed our sins. There we wept and deplored our lost condition, and there we sought for pardon.
Only David and Jonathan were present, while Jonathan manifested his sympathy, and displayed the greatness of his love. So only Jesus and the sinner were together, when pardon was proclaimed, reconciliation was effected, and salvation was brought home. The sympathy of Jesus, excited the strongest hopes; but the love of Jesus, brought assurance and peace to the soul. Oh, how sweet was this first secret interview between Jesus and the soul! How sweet, how pleasant the tears we shed! How humbling, how elevating the joys vie felt!
Jonathan sent David away in peace, with his blessing, to enjoy safety. Jesus never, strictly speaking, sends us away—and yet we leave his presence with the peace of God in our hearts, with the divine blessing resting upon our souls, and saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.
There is a secret in religion, which no one knows, which no one can know—but the believer. It is made up of confidence in God, peace flowing from God, power imparted by God, and joy akin to the joy of God.
Alas! how many professors are like Jonathan's lad, of this divine secret, they know not anything. They never felt their danger, were never drawn to the feet of Jesus, never witnessed his sympathy, or felt his love. They pick up the precept, as the boy picked up the arrow, and go away into the city; while the believer comes forth to enjoy soul-humbling, soul saving communion with Jesus!
The best part of religion is realized and enjoyed by the soul, when it is alone with God. Then our pardon is sealed. Then our fears are scattered. Then our hopes are confirmed. Then our hearts are broken with a sense of his love. Then we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Then the soul seems to flow into the bosom of God, and the love of God flows into the heart, under the operation and direction of the Holy Spirit. O sacred seasons! O delightful manifestations!
O what elevating emotions we then enjoyed! We can only conceive of heaven as the perfection, and perpetuation of the same.
Beloved, is there any secret in your religion? Anything that you cannot put into words, or make intelligible to the carnal man? Or does your religion consist merely in ceremonies, services, and the performance of religious duties? If the latter, it is sad legal drudgery; and you are only in the position of a servant, working for life, which you will never obtain by working. If the former, your religion is pleasant, attractive, and delightful; and you are no more a servant—but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. You have the Spirit of adoption within you, the presence of Jesus with you, and the prospect of glory before you.
Your sweetest seasons, are often when alone with God; your highest joys flow from a sense of union with Christ, and perfect acceptance with God; and you serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him. You have Christ formed in the heart, you hold the promise of eternal life in your hand, and you rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Reader! rest not in a commonplace religion. Be not satisfied without heart-work. See to it that you have the grand secret, as it is written, "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant."