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Jonathan [Jŏn'athan]—the lord gave.

  1. A Levite who entered the service of Micah as “father and priest.” The son of Gershom, son of Manasseh (Judg. 17:10; 18:30).
  2. Eldest son of King Saul and close friend of David. Jonathan left one son, Mephibosheth (1 Sam. 13:2, 3). With his father Jonathan fell in battle with the Philistines and there is nothing comparable in literature to David’s lament and eulogy when he heard of their death (2 Sam. 1).

The Man Who Was Content To Be Second

The story of Jonathan is remarkable in that we know so much about him, yet he was never called to office. While he lived, he was known only as the eldest son of Saul. He knew he would never succeed his father as king. With true humility he could say to David, whom he loved, “I shall be next to thee.” After his lamentable death he is only mentioned as the father of Mephibosheth. He is not to be found among the worthies in Hebrews eleven. Doubtless he was one not counted worthy by the world.

Jonathan personified all the Christian virtues or graces that Peter wrote about (2 Pet. 1:5-7). In battle, his valour was absolutely stainless, and he acted without fear. As to the love-covenant Jonathan made with David, how rare it is to see two men loving one another as these two did. Truly, Jonathan was possessed of a heroic faith (1 Sam. 14:6); undaunted courage (1 Sam. 14:7-14); self-sacrificing friendship (1 Sam. 18:4; 19:2).

3. A Son of Abiathar, a high priest in David’s time (2 Sam. 15:27, 36; 17:17, 20; 1 Kings 1:42, 43).

4. A son of Shimea, David’s brother (2 Sam. 21:21; 1 Chron. 20:7).

5. Son of Jashen and one of David’s heroes (2 Sam. 23:32; 1 Chron. 11:34).

6. A son of Jada and grandson of Onam (1 Chron. 2:32, 33).

7. An uncle of David (1 Chron. 27:32), who was a scribe.

8. The father of Ebed who returned with Ezra (Ezra 8:6).

9. The son of Asahel, who assisted in the matter of foreign wives (Ezra 10:15).

10. A descendant of Jeshua the high priest (Neh. 12:11).

11. A priest descended from Melicu (Neh. 12:14).

12. A priest descended from Shemaiah (Neh 12:35). Called Jehonathan in Nehemiah 12:18.

13. A scribe in whose house Jeremiah was imprisoned (Jer. 37:15, 20; 38:26).

14. A son of Kareah who went to Gedaliah (Jer. 40:8).

Devotional content drawn from All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer. Used with permission.

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