1 Samuel 20

David and Jonathan’s Covenant

20 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and he came and said [a]to Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he is seeking my life?” He said to him, “Far from it, you shall not die! Behold, my father does nothing either great or small [b]without informing me. So why would my father hide this thing from me? It is not so!” Yet David vowed again, [c]saying, “Your father is well aware that I have found favor in your sight, and he has said, ‘Jonathan is not to know this, otherwise he will be worried.’ But indeed as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is [d]just a step between me and death.” Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever [e]you say, I will do for you.” So David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I am obligated to sit down to eat with the king. But let me go so that I may hide myself in the field until the third evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly requested leave of me to run to Bethlehem, his city, because it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.’ If he [f]says, ‘That is good,’ your servant will be safe; but if he is very angry, be aware that he has decided on evil. So deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if [g]I am guilty of wrongdoing, kill me yourself; for why then should you bring me to your father?” Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! For if I in fact learn that my father has decided [h]to inflict harm on you, would I not inform you?” 10 Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will inform me [i]if your father answers you harshly?” 11 Jonathan said to David, “Come, and let’s go out to the field.” So both of them went out to the field.

12 Then Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, is my witness! When I have sounded out my father about this time tomorrow or the third day, behold, if he has a good feeling toward [j]you, shall I not then send word to you and [k]inform you? 13 If it pleases my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to [l]me and more so, if I fail to [m]inform you and send you away, so that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father. 14 And if I am still alive, will you not show me the faithfulness of the Lord, so that I do not die? 15 And you shall never cut off your loyalty to my house, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord demand it from the hands of David’s enemies.” 17 And Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life.

18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed since your seat will be empty. 19 When you have stayed for three days, you shall go down quickly and come to the place where you hid yourself on that eventful day, and you shall remain beside the stone Ezel. 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side, as though I shot at a target. 21 Then behold, I will send the boy, telling him, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I specifically say to the boy, ‘Behold, the arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then come, because it is safe for you and there is nothing to harm you, as the Lord lives. 22 But if I [n]say to the youth, ‘Behold, the arrows are beyond you,’ go, because the Lord has sent you away. 23 As for the [o]agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”

24 So David hid himself in the field; and when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. 25 Now the king sat on his seat as usual, the seat by the wall; then Jonathan stood up and Abner sat down by Saul’s side; but David’s place was empty. 26 Nevertheless Saul did not say anything that day, because he thought, “It must have been an [p]accident; he is not clean, undoubtedly he is not clean.” 27 But it came about the next day, the second day of the new moon, that David’s place was empty again; so Saul said to his son Jonathan, “Why has the son of Jesse not come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28 And Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly requested leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, ‘Please let me go, because our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has ordered me to attend. So now, if I have found favor in your sight, please let me slip away so that I may see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king’s table.”

Saul Is Angry with Jonathan

30 Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you are choosing the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For, [q]as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now then, send men and bring him to me, for he is [r]doomed to die!” 32 But Jonathan replied to his father Saul and said to him, “Why must he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike and kill him; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. 34 Then Jonathan got up from the table in the heat of anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, because he was worried about David since his father had insulted him.

35 Now it came about in the morning that Jonathan went out to the field at the time agreed upon with David, and a little boy was with him. 36 He said to his boy, “Run, find now the arrows which I am about to shoot.” The boy ran, and he shot [s]an arrow past him. 37 When the boy reached the location of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is the arrow not beyond you?” 38 Then Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry, be quick, do not stay!” And Jonathan’s boy picked up the arrow and came to his master. 39 But the boy was not aware of anything; only Jonathan and David knew about the matter. 40 Then Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go, bring them to the city.” 41 When the boy was gone, David got up from the south side, then he fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, until David wept immeasurably. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go [t]in safety, since we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my [u]descendants and your [v]descendants forever.’” [w]So David set out and went on his way, while Jonathan went into the city.


  1. 1 Samuel 20:1 Lit before
  2. 1 Samuel 20:2 Lit and he does not uncover my ear
  3. 1 Samuel 20:3 Lit and said
  4. 1 Samuel 20:3 Lit about
  5. 1 Samuel 20:4 Lit your soul says
  6. 1 Samuel 20:7 Lit says thus
  7. 1 Samuel 20:8 Lit guilt exists in me
  8. 1 Samuel 20:9 Lit evil to come on
  9. 1 Samuel 20:10 As in ancient versions; MT or what your father
  10. 1 Samuel 20:12 Lit David
  11. 1 Samuel 20:12 Lit uncover your ear
  12. 1 Samuel 20:13 Lit Jonathan
  13. 1 Samuel 20:13 Lit uncover your ear
  14. 1 Samuel 20:22 Lit say thus
  15. 1 Samuel 20:23 Lit word
  16. 1 Samuel 20:26 I.e., accident of ritual pollution
  17. 1 Samuel 20:31 Lit all the days which
  18. 1 Samuel 20:31 Lit a son of death
  19. 1 Samuel 20:36 Lit the
  20. 1 Samuel 20:42 Lit to peace
  21. 1 Samuel 20:42 Lit seed
  22. 1 Samuel 20:42 Lit seed
  23. 1 Samuel 20:42 Ch 21:1 in Heb