1 Samuel 20 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Jonathan Protects David
20 David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What did I do wrong? How have I sinned against your father so that he wants to take my life?”
2 Jonathan said to him, “No, you won’t die. Listen, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without telling me.[a] So why would he hide this matter from me? This can’t be true.”
3 But David said, “Your father certainly knows that you have come to look favorably on me. He has said, ‘Jonathan must not know of this, or else he will be grieved.’” David also swore, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, there is but a step between me and death.”
4 Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”
5 So David told him, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon, and I’m supposed to sit down and eat with the king. Instead, let me go, and I’ll hide in the field until the third night. 6 If your father misses me at all, say, ‘David urgently requested my permission to quickly go to his town Bethlehem for an annual sacrifice there involving the whole clan.’ 7 If he says, ‘Good,’ then your servant is safe, but if he becomes angry, you will know he has evil intentions. 8 Deal faithfully with your servant, for you have brought me into a covenant with you before the Lord. If I have done anything wrong, then kill me yourself; why take me to your father?”
9 “No!” Jonathan responded. “If I ever find out my father has evil intentions against you, wouldn’t I tell you about it?”
10 So David asked Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?”
11 He answered David, “Come on, let’s go out to the field.” So both of them went out to the field. 12 “By the Lord, the God of Israel, I will sound out my father by this time tomorrow or the next day. If I find out that he is favorable toward you, will I not send for you and tell you?[b] 13 If my father intends to bring evil on you, may God punish Jonathan and do so severely if I do not tell you[c] and send you away so you may go in peace. May the Lord be with you, just as He was with my father. 14 If I continue to live, treat me with the Lord’s faithful love, but if I die, 15 don’t ever withdraw your faithful love from my household—not even when the Lord cuts off every one of David’s enemies from the face of the earth.” 16 Then Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord hold David’s enemies accountable.”[d] 17 Jonathan once again swore to David[e] in his love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the New Moon; you’ll be missed because your seat will be empty. 19 The following day hurry down and go to the place where you hid on the day this incident began and stay beside the rock Ezel. 20 I will shoot three arrows beside it as if I’m aiming at a target. 21 Then I will send the young man and say, ‘Go and find the arrows!’ Now, if I expressly say to the young man, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you—get them,’ then come, because as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no problem. 22 But if I say this to the youth: ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you!’ then go, for the Lord is sending you away. 23 As for the matter you and I have spoken about, the Lord will be a witness[f] between you and me forever.” 24 So David hid in the field.
At the New Moon, the king sat down to eat the meal. 25 He sat at his usual place on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat facing him[g] and Abner took his place beside Saul, but David’s place was empty. 26 Saul did not say anything that day because he thought, “Something unexpected has happened; he must be ceremonially unclean—yes, that’s it, he is unclean.”
27 However, the day after the New Moon, the second day, David’s place was still empty, and Saul asked his son Jonathan, “Why didn’t Jesse’s son come to the meal either yesterday or today?”
28 Jonathan answered, “David asked for my permission to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Please let me go because our clan is holding a sacrifice in the town, and my brother has told me to be there. So now, if you are pleased with me, let me go so I can see my brothers.’ That’s why he didn’t come to the king’s table.”
30 Then Saul became angry with Jonathan and shouted, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you are siding with Jesse’s son to your own shame and to the disgrace of your mother?[h] 31 Every day Jesse’s son lives on earth you and your kingship are not secure. Now send for him and bring him to me—he deserves to die.”
32 Jonathan answered his father back: “Why is he to be killed? What has he done?”
33 Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to kill him, so he knew that his father was determined to kill David. 34 He got up from the table in fierce anger and did not eat any food that second day of the New Moon, for he was grieved because of his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
35 In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for the appointed meeting with David. A small young man was with him. 36 He said to the young man, “Run and find the arrows I’m shooting.” As the young man ran, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 He came to the location of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, but Jonathan called to him and said, “The arrow is beyond you, isn’t it?” 38 Then Jonathan called to him, “Hurry up and don’t stop!” Jonathan’s young man picked up the arrow and returned to his master. 39 He did not know anything; only Jonathan and David knew the arrangement. 40 Then Jonathan gave his equipment to the young man who was with him and said, “Go, take it back to the city.”
41 When the young man had gone, David got up from the south side of the stone Ezel, fell with his face to the ground, and bowed three times. Then he and Jonathan kissed each other and wept with each other, though David wept more.
42 Jonathan then said to David, “Go in the assurance the two of us pledged in the name of the Lord when we said: The Lord will be a witness between you and me and between my offspring and your offspring forever.”[i] Then David left, and Jonathan went into the city.