David said, “Jonathan, why is your father trying to kill me? What have I done?”
He said, “The king doesn’t want to kill you. I would know about it if he did. He doesn’t hide anything from me.”
David said, “As sure as there is a God, and as sure as you’re alive, your father wants to kill me. He doesn’t tell you because he knows we’re best friends.”
Jonathan said, “What do you want me to do? Name it and I’ll do it.”
David said, “Tomorrow, I’m scheduled to go to a three-day banquet with the king. If he notices that I’m not there, tell him you gave me permission to go to Bethlehem for an annual sacrifice. Tell him it was important that I be there because it involves my entire clan.
“If your father accepts that answer, then we’ll know all is well and he doesn’t hate me. But if he gets angry, then it will be clear to both of us that he wants to kill me.
“Jonathan, if you find out that he has good reason to hate me, then come … and kill me yourself.”
Jonathan said, “I’ll go and find out exactly what my father thinks about you. If you’re right and he wants to kill you, I’ll send you away in peace. But remember, we made a vow to each other before the Lord. If I die and God blesses you, take care of my family. Love my household as if they’re your own.
“Here’s my plan. Hide next to the big rock in the field. I’ll find out what my father thinks about you. Then I’ll come here and shoot three arrows toward the rock. I’ll send my servant to get them. As he goes, I’ll yell something to him. If I say, ‘They are on this side of the rock.’ That’s your sign that all is well and you can come back.
“But if I yell, ‘They’re on the other side of the rock,’ That’s your sign that you need to run for your life because my father is trying to kill you.”
During the first day of the banquet, Saul noticed that David was not in his place, but he didn’t say anything. On the second day, Saul said to Jonathan, “Where is that son of Jesse? He’s missed both days so far.”
“Oh, I gave him permission to go to Bethlehem. His family is having a big annual sacrifice, and his brothers insisted that he be there.”
Saul yelled at his son. “You son of a prostitute! I know what you’re doing. You’re taking his side. Don’t you realize he’s going to take away your kingdom? You’re a shame to our family. Now go get him and bring him here so I can kill him.”
Jonathan yelled back. “What has he done? Why do you want to kill him?”
Saul grabbed a spear and threw it at his son. Jonathan got up from the table and left. He didn’t eat for a whole day because he was ashamed of his father.
In the morning, he went to the field with his servant. He shot three arrows out beyond the rock. As the servant ran out to get them, Jonathan yelled, “They are on the other side of that rock. You need to hurry. Go as fast as you can.”
The servant found the arrows and brought them back. Jonathan then told him to take the equipment and go back to the city.
After he left, David came out of hiding. The two men hugged and cried. Jonathan said, “You’re right. My father is determined to kill you. Go. But remember our pledge to one another, and between your children and my children.” With that, David left, and Jonathan went back to the city.