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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 35–42
Verses 35–42

Here is, 1. Jonathan’s faithful performance of his promise to give David notice of the success of his dangerous experiment. He went at the time and to the place appointed (1 Sam. 20:35), within sight of which he knew David lay hid, sent his footboy to fetch his arrows, which he would shoot at random (1 Sam. 20:36), and gave David the fatal signal by shooting an arrow beyond the lad (1 Sam. 20:37): Isa. not the arrow beyond thee? That word [beyond] David knew the meaning of better than the lad. Jonathan dismissed the lad, who knew nothing of the matter, and, finding the coast clear and no danger of a discovery, he presumed upon one minute’s personal conversation with David after he had bidden him flee for his life. 2. The most sorrowful parting of these two friends, who, for aught that appears, never came together again but once, and that was by stealth in a wood, 1 Sam. 23:16. (1.) David addressed himself to Jonathan with the reverence of a servant rather than the freedom of a friend: He fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times, as one deeply sensible of his obligations to him for the good services he had done him. (2.) They took leave of each other with the greatest affection imaginable, with kisses and tears; they wept on each other’s neck till David exceeded, 1 Sam. 20:41. The separation of two such faithful friends was equally grievous to them both, but David’s case was the more deplorable; for, when Jonathan was returning to his family and friends, David was leaving all his comforts, even those of God’s sanctuary, and therefore his grief exceeded Jonathan’s, or perhaps it was because his temper was more tender and his passions were stronger. (3.) They referred themselves to the covenant of friendship that was between them, both of them comforting themselves with this in this mournful separation: “We have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, for ourselves and our heirs, that we and they will be faithful and kind to each other from generation to generation.” Thus, while we are at home in the body and absent from the Lord, this is our comfort, that he has made with us an everlasting covenant.