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1 Samuel 20 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

David and Jonathan Make an Agreement

20 David ran away from the camps at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked him, “What have I done wrong? What is my crime? Why is your father trying to kill me?”

Jonathan answered, “That can’t be true! My father isn’t trying to kill you. My father doesn’t do anything without first telling me. It doesn’t matter how important it is, my father always tells me. Why would my father refuse to tell me that he wants to kill you? No, it is not true!”

But David answered, “Your father knows very well that I am your friend. Your father said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know about it. If he knows, he will tell David.’[a] But as surely as you and the Lord are alive, I am very close to death.”

Jonathan said to David, “I will do anything you want me to do.”

Then David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon celebration. I am supposed to eat with the king, but let me hide in the field until the evening. If your father notices I am gone, tell him, ‘David wanted to go home to Bethlehem. His family is having its own feast for this monthly sacrifice. David asked me to let him run down to Bethlehem and join his family.’ If your father says, ‘Fine,’ then I am safe. But if your father becomes angry, you will know that he wants to hurt me. Jonathan, be kind to me. I am your servant. You have made an agreement with me before the Lord. If I am guilty, you may kill me yourself, but don’t take me to your father.”

Jonathan answered, “No, never! If I learn that my father plans to hurt you, I will warn you.”

10 David said, “Who will warn me if your father says bad things to you?”

11 Then Jonathan said, “Come, let’s go out into the field.” So Jonathan and David went together into the field.

12 Jonathan said to David, “I make this promise before the Lord, the God of Israel. I promise that I will learn how my father feels about you. I will learn if he feels good about you or not. Then, in three days, I will send a message to you in the field. 13 If my father wants to hurt you, I will let you know. I will let you leave in safety. May the Lord punish me if I don’t do this. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14-15 As long as I live, show me the same kindness the Lord does. And if I die, never stop showing this kindness to my family. Be faithful to us, even when the Lord destroys all your enemies[b] from the earth.” 16 So Jonathan made this agreement with David and his family, and he asked the Lord to hold them responsible for keeping it.[c]

17 Jonathan loved David as himself, and because of this love, he asked David to repeat this agreement for himself.

18 Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon celebration. Your seat will be empty, so my father will see that you are gone. 19 On the third day go to the same place you hid when this trouble began. Wait by that hill. 20 On the third day I will go to that hill and shoot three arrows as if I am shooting at a target. 21 Then I will tell the boy to go find the arrows. If everything is fine, I will tell the boy, ‘You went too far! The arrows are closer to me. Come back and get them.’ If I say that, you can come out of hiding. I promise, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe. There is no danger. 22 But if there is trouble, I will say to the boy, ‘The arrows are farther away. Go get them.’ If I say that, you must leave. The Lord is sending you away. 23 Remember this agreement between you and me. The Lord is our witness forever.”

24 Then David hid in the field.

Saul’s Attitude at the Celebration

The time for the New Moon celebration came, and the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat next to the wall where he usually sat, and Jonathan sat across from him. Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 That day Saul said nothing. He thought, “Maybe something happened to David so that he is not clean.”

27 On the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why didn’t Jesse’s son come to the New Moon celebration yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered, “David asked me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go. Our family is having a sacrifice in Bethlehem. My brother ordered me to be there. Now if I am your friend, please let me go and see my brothers.’ That is why David has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Saul was very angry with Jonathan and said to him, “You son of a twisted, rebellious woman! I know that you have chosen to support that son of Jesse.[d] This will bring shame to you and to your mother. 31 As long as Jesse’s son lives, you will never be king and have a kingdom. Now, bring David to me! He is a dead man.”

32 Jonathan asked his father, “Why should David be killed? What did he do wrong?”

33 But Saul threw his spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. So Jonathan knew that his father wanted very much to kill David. 34 Jonathan became angry and left the table. He was so upset and angry with his father that he refused to eat any food on the second day of the festival. He was angry because Saul humiliated him and because Saul wanted to kill David.

David and Jonathan Say Goodbye

35 The next morning Jonathan went out to the field to meet David as they had agreed. Jonathan brought a little boy with him. 36 He said to the boy, “Run. Go find the arrows I shoot.” The boy began to run, and Jonathan shot the arrows over his head. 37 The boy ran to the place where the arrows fell, but Jonathan called, “The arrows are farther away.” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go get them. Don’t just stand there.” The boy picked up the arrows and brought them back to his master. 39 The boy knew nothing about what went on. Only Jonathan and David knew. 40 Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to go back to town.

41 When the boy left, David came out from his hiding place on the other side of the hill. David gave a formal greeting by bowing to the ground three times to show his respect for Jonathan. But then David and Jonathan kissed each other and cried together. It was a very sad goodbye, especially for David.

42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace. We have taken an oath in the Lord’s name to be friends forever. We have asked the Lord to be a witness between us and our descendants forever.”

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 20:3 he will tell David This is from the ancient Greek version. The standard Hebrew text here has “he will be upset.”
  2. 1 Samuel 20:14 enemies Or “descendants.”
  3. 1 Samuel 20:16 The Hebrew text here is unclear, and several different translations are possible.
  4. 1 Samuel 20:30 that son of Jesse Saul refers to David by his father’s name, intending it as an insult.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International

1 Samuel 20 New International Version (NIV)

David and Jonathan

20 Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?”

“Never!” Jonathan replied. “You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without letting me know. Why would he hide this from me? It isn’t so!”

But David took an oath and said, “Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.’ Yet as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death.”

Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.”

So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon feast, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow. If your father misses me at all, tell him, ‘David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.’ If he says, ‘Very well,’ then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me. As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”

“Never!” Jonathan said. “If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn’t I tell you?”

10 David asked, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”

11 “Come,” Jonathan said, “let’s go out into the field.” So they went there together.

12 Then Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel, that I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know? 13 But if my father intends to harm you, may the Lord deal with Jonathan, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away in peace. May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me unfailing kindness like the Lord’s kindness as long as I live, so that I may not be killed, 15 and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family—not even when the Lord has cut off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.”

16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account. 17 And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.

18 Then Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon feast. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,’ then come, because, as surely as the Lord lives, you are safe; there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 And about the matter you and I discussed—remember, the Lord is witness between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon feast came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan,[a] and Abner sat next to Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, “Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean—surely he is unclean. 27 But the next day, the second day of the month, David’s place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?”

28 Jonathan answered, “David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”

30 Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

32 “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father. 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.

34 Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the feast he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father’s shameful treatment of David.

35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him, 36 and he said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37 When the boy came to the place where Jonathan’s arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, “Isn’t the arrow beyond you?” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about all this; only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, “Go, carry them back to town.”

41 After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together—but David wept the most.

42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.[b]

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Samuel 20:25 Septuagint; Hebrew wall. Jonathan arose
  2. 1 Samuel 20:42 In Hebrew texts this sentence (20:42b) is numbered 21:1.
New International Version (NIV)

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