1 Samuel 20 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
David and Jonathan
20 Then David ran away from Naioth in Ramah. He went to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I sinned against your father so that he’s trying to kill me?”
2 Jonathan answered, “No! You won’t die! See, my father doesn’t do anything without first telling me. It doesn’t matter if it is very important or just a small thing. Why would he refuse to tell me he wants to kill you? No, it’s not true!”
3 But David took an oath. He said, “Your father knows very well that I’m your friend. He has said to himself, ‘Jonathan must not know about it. If he knows, he will tell David.’ But as surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I am very close to death!”
4 Jonathan said to David, “I’ll do anything you want me to do.”
5 So David said, “Look, tomorrow is the New Moon festival. I am supposed to eat with the king. But let me hide in the field until the third evening. 6 Your father may notice I am gone. If he does, tell him, ‘David begged me to let him go to his hometown of Bethlehem. Every year at this time, his family group offers a sacrifice.’ 7 If your father says, ‘Fine,’ I am safe. But if he becomes angry, you can believe he wants to hurt me. 8 Jonathan, be kind to me, your servant. You have made an agreement with me before the Lord. If I am guilty, you may kill me yourself! Why hand me over to your father?”
9 Jonathan answered, “No, never! If I learn that my father plans to harm you, I will warn you!”
10 David asked, “Who will let me know if your father answers you unkindly?”
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 promise this before the Lord, the God of Israel: At this same time day after tomorrow, I will find out how my father feels. If he feels good toward you, I’ll send word to you. I’ll let you know. 13 But my father may mean to hurt you. If so, I will let you know and send you away safely. May the Lord punish me terribly if I don’t do this. And may the Lord be with you as he has been with my father. 14 But show me the kindness of the Lord as long as I live. Do this so that I may not die. 15 You must not stop showing your kindness to my family. Don’t do this, even when the Lord has destroyed all your enemies from the earth.”
16 So Jonathan made an agreement with David. He said, “May the Lord punish David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan asked David to repeat his promise of love for him. He did this because he loved David as much as he loved himself.
18 Jonathan said to David, “Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. Your seat will be empty. So my father will notice you’re gone. 19 On the third day go to the place where you hid when this trouble began. Wait by the rock Ezel. 20 On the third day I will shoot three arrows to the side of the rock. I will shoot as if I am shooting at a target. 21 Then I will send a boy and tell him to go find the arrows. I may say to him, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you. Bring them here.’ If so, you may come out of hiding. You may do this as surely as the Lord lives because you are safe. There is no danger. 22 But I may say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you.’ If I do, you must go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 Remember what we talked about. The Lord is a witness between you and me forever.”
24 So David hid in the field. And when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat. 25 He sat where he always sat, near the wall. Jonathan sat across from him, and Abner sat next to him. But David’s place was empty. 26 That day Saul said nothing. He thought, “Maybe something has happened to David so that he is unclean.” 27 But the next day was the second day of the month. And David’s place was empty again. So Saul said to Jonathan, “Why hasn’t the son of Jesse come to the festival yesterday or today?”
28 Jonathan answered, “David begged me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Let me go, because our family has a sacrifice in the town. And my brother has ordered me to be there. Now if I am your friend, please let me go and see my brothers.’ That is why he has not come to the king’s table.”
30 Then Saul became very angry with Jonathan. He said, “You son of an evil and disobedient woman! I know you are on the side of David son of Jesse! You bring shame on yourself and on your mother who gave birth to you. 31 As long as Jesse’s son lives, you’ll never be king or have a kingdom. Now send for David and bring him to me. He must die!”
32 Jonathan asked his father, “Why should David be killed? What wrong has he done?” 33 Then Saul threw his spear at Jonathan, trying to kill him. So Jonathan knew that his father really wanted to kill David. 34 Jonathan was very angry and left the table. That second day of the month he refused to eat. He was upset about what his father wanted to do to David.
35 The next morning Jonathan went out to the field. He went to meet David as they had agreed. He had a young boy with him. 36 Jonathan said to the boy, “Run and find the arrows I shoot.” When he ran, Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37 The boy ran to the place where Jonathan’s arrow fell. But Jonathan called, “The arrow is beyond you!” 38 Then he shouted, “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” The boy picked up the arrow and brought it back to his master. 39 (The boy knew nothing about what this meant. Only Jonathan and David knew.) 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy. He told him, “Go back to town.”
41 When the boy left, David came out from the south side of the rock. He bowed facedown on the ground before Jonathan. He did this three times. Then David and Jonathan kissed each other. They cried together, but David cried the most.
42 Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace. We have promised by the Lord that we will be friends. We said, ‘The Lord will be a witness between you and me, and between our descendants forever.’” Then David left, and Jonathan went back to town.