Lectionary Reflection for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 2 Samuel (BTCB) by Robert Barron, commenting on 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27:

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One should not overlook the importance of David’s intense friendship with the son of Saul. From Jonathan’s side, it signals the orientation of true love, which is directed toward the other. Jonathan willingly surrendered his status and position in favor of David, easily, even gratefully, acknowledging that David and not he would one day succeed Saul. And despite the enormous danger to himself, Jonathan consistently defended and protected David.

John Chrysostom comments that Jonathan ought to have been jealous of the upstart shepherd who was rivaling him for the throne, “but he [ Jonathan] favored David obtaining the sovereignty; and he didn’t spare his father for the sake of his friend. . . . Instead of envying, Jonathan joined in obtaining the kingdom for him.” This lovely surrender to the other is what led Aelred of Rievaulx and many others to see in Jonathan’s relationship to David the model of true friendship.

From David’s side, the relationship shows once more his intense tie with the house of Saul despite Saul’s murderous opposition. A number of times in the course of 2 Samuel David will endeavor to show kindness to members of Saul’s house “for the sake of Jonathan and Saul,” answering violence with favor. Chrysostom goes so far as to hint that David’s behavior is a model to all those who would show favor to both the living and the dead. Certainly one of the most powerful ways that David demonstrated his love for his friend slain on the slopes of Mount Gilboa was the composition of an elegy read and admired three thousand years after its composition.

©2015 by Robert Barron. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.