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Old Testament Character Sketch

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October 9, 2017

BIBL 104-B59

Old Testament Character Sketch Bible Study

  1. Observation

Step One:

For this character-sketch Bible study I will be studying Jonathan.

Step Two:

Jonathan’s story is told in 1 Samuel 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 23, 31 and 2 Samuel 1.

Step Three:

  1. Jonathan is a warrior.
  2. Jonathan trusts and has great faith in God.
  3. Jonathan is courageous because of his trust in God.
  4. Jonathan has good leadership qualities and the Israelites looked up to him.
  5. Jonathan was a spiritual man and his spiritual character sharply contrasted his father, Saul’s. He did not try to make excuses for what he had done and was willing to accept the consequences of his actions.
  6. Jonathan and David became close friends.
  7. Jonathan is a loyal, Godly friend.
  8. Jonathan protects David from Saul.
  9. Jonathan willfully submits to the will of God even though it meant he would not be king.
  10. Jonathan possesses unselfish love for David and bears no animosity towards him even knowing God has appointed David as the next king when he was the heir to the throne.

Step Four:

Who?

The characters throughout the story of Jonathan are: Jonathan, Saul, Israelites, Philistines, Samuel, Michal, David, Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, possibly as authors of some of the writings Nathan and Gad.

What?

Israel has moved from the rule of judges to the rule of kings. Jonathan’s father Saul is the first king of Israel. Jonathan leads 1,000 men in battle against the Philistines and defeats them. The Philistines assemble to fight Israel and Saul summons the Israelites for war. When the Israelites see the size of the Philistine army they run and hide. Jonathan takes his armor bearer and the two of them ambush and kill twenty Philistines. When Saul comes to attack the Philistines, they are in a panic and fighting among themselves because Jonathan had caused confusion by his attack.

Saul orders a curse upon anyone who would eat during their pursuit of the Philistines. Unaware of his father’s orders, Jonathan eats some wild honey. Jonathan admits his wrongdoing and is willing to accept the consequences. For this, Saul told his own son that he will have to die. The men of the Israel army intervene because they know Jonathan had saved Israel with the help of God.

Jonathan then meets David as he spoke to King Saul. Jonathan, at once feels an abiding love for David and they be close friends. Jonathan and David make a covenant and Jonathan seals it by giving his robe, garments, sword and bow to David.

Saul becomes deeply jealous of David and turns against him. Jonathan attempts to reconcile them, but the reconcilement does not last long. Repeatedly Jonathan protects his friend David from Saul. Their friendship grows stronger with every hardship.

Saul tries to get Jonathan to kill David, but Jonathan warns David of Saul’s anger and David hides. Jonathan and David meet one last time in the Wilderness of Ziph, Jonathan proclaims David will be the next king of Israel, which was Jonathan’s birthright. They make a covenant before God. They part and never see each other again.

Jonathan dies at the hands of the Philistines. Saul was badly wounded in the same battle and Saul took his own life. David mourns the death of Jonathan and Saul.

Where?

Gibeah, Mikmash, Geba, Gilgal, Jerusalem, Ramah and Mount Gilboa

When?

We begin 1 Samuel 13 when the people of Israel are transitioning from the rule of judges to kings. Saul is the first king and his reign lasted 42 years. The approximate dates are 1041 BC - 1010 BC.

Why?

Jonathan’s story was written to show how having a deep trust in God gives us courage. It also shows what loyalty and true friendship is.

Step Five:

1041 BC – Saul’s was with the Philistines

1041 BC – Jonathan’s victory over the Philistines

1015 BC – Jonathan’s friendship with David

1014 BC – Jonathan protects David from Saul

1013 BC – Jonathan and David’s covenant

1010 BC – Jonathan, his brothers and Saul are killed

1010 BC – David mourns for Jonathan and Saul

  1. Interpretation

Step Six:

  1. Jonathan’s courage as shown in 1 Samuel 13-14 comes from having a deep trust in God. We see this in Jonathan’s attack on the Philistines. His deep trust in God gave him the courage to go up against the enemy.
  2. Jonathan’s honesty as shown in 1 Samuel 14:43, reminds us to not try to make excuses and admit when we do wrong. In telling the truth about eating the honey, even though he knew the consequences, Jonathan showed great spiritual character.
  3. Jonathan was very loyal. 1 Samuel 20 shows us Jonathan’s loyalty to his friend David. This is shown when he saves David’s life more than once. Jonathan remained loyal to his father even though Saul’s continual attempts to kill David caused some estrangement between them. Jonathan was forced to deal with conflicting loyalties between David and Saul. It was Jonathan’s loyalty to God that helped guide him through these conflicts.
  4. 1 Samuel 18 shows us what unselfish love and true friendship is. Jonathan was heir to the throne but because of his father’s wrongdoing God chose David instead. Jonathan did not have any animosity toward David, instead he made a covenant with him. Jonathan was a true Godly friend, instead of dwelling in his own selfishness he showed his love for David.
  5. Jonathan also submits to the will of God. When Jonathan realized God had chosen David to be the next king, he humbly accepted God’s will. He never envied David because God chose him, nor did he pursue his own interests, instead, he protected and defended David, which was God’s will.

  1. Correlation

Step Seven:

  1. Jonathan and David’s friendship show us the importance of having a Biblical friendship. In 1 Samuel 18:1 it says, “Jonathan became one in Spirit with David” (NIV) and another translation says, “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David” (ESV). This joining of souls is consistent throughout the Bible to describe friendship. Deuteronomy 13:6 reads, “the friend who is as your own soul.” (KJ) Basically this means they are close friends and their spirits are one. A Biblical friendship also means being self-sacrificing. When Jonathan formed the covenant of friendship with David because he loved him as himself, we see this reflected in the New Testament when Jesus gave the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27).
  2. In James 4:7, we are told to submit ourselves to God. Jonathan humbly submitted to God’s will even though it meant he would not be king. Jonathan could have followed his father’s orders and kill David but instead he submitted to God’s will because of his love for God and for David. As Christians, we make the decision daily to submit to God. As it tells us in Romans 8:28-29, God will use our pain and suffering as opportunities to submit to His will. By submitting to Him, we trust in God and learn to accept things that happen because God is with us.
  3. Jonathan was an outstanding example of loyalty. Proverbs 21:21 says, “He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.” (NASB) In the New International Version, the word loyalty is translated into “love.” Loyalty remains constant in good times and bad. We see this in the story of Ruth and Naomi. As it states is Revelation 2:10, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” (NIV)

Step Eight:

  1. Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him. In addition to making the covenant, Jonathan gives his robe, tunic, sword, bow and belt to David. In giving these things to David, Jonathan symbolically stripped himself of his rights in order for David to be crowned. Jesus reminds us of His covenant with us in Matthew 26:27-28 when ‘He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus stripped himself bare, so we might share in His glory.  Jesus gave up his position at the right hand of God to allow us to be joint heirs with Him.
  2. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Jonathan was willing to risk his life for his friend David. He spoke up for David even though it angered his father. Jesus laid down His life for us. He bore the anger of mankind to set the very people free who condemned Him.
  3. Jonathan encouraged David in God in 1 Samuel 23:15-18. Jonathan goes out into the wilderness, finds David and reminds him of the promises from God that he will be king. Just like Jonathan going out to David, Jesus comes to us in our hard times and reminds us of His faithfulness and commitment to us. Romans 15:4-5 says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus.”

  1. Application

Step Nine:

  1. What should I do?

According to the story of Jonathan, I should love at all times, be compassionate, kind, forgiving and at peace with others. But most importantly, I should be willing to follow God’s will for my life and put Him first. I need to be willing to sacrifice my dreams and hopes and follow God and submit myself to Him.

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