Jul 2, 2014

Learning from David, Saul, and Jonathan

Most of us do it.  It's fairly common actually. I've been guilty of this.  When someone we know is successful, our first knee-jerk reaction is jealousy, envy, justifying their achievements, or even putting the person down.  Luckily, this usually happens in our thoughts alone.  But, why do we do this?  Shouldn't our initial reaction, and hopefully complete reaction, be one of happiness, congratulations, love, and support--especially if they are a good friend or family member?

I was actually pondering on this exact subject when it was the topic of Sunday's Gospel Doctrine class lesson.  This year, we are studying the Old Testament and the lesson was #23: "The Lord be between thee and me forever."  This lesson encompasses 1 Samuel 18-20; 23-24.  The lesson purpose sums up my thoughts exactly, "To encourage class members to be true to their friends, as Jonathan and David were, and avoid being consumed by jealousy and hatred, as Saul was."

Background information:  Saul was the first king of the Israelites, but due to his disobedience to the Lord's commandments, Samuel the prophet anointed David to be succeeding king.  Jonathan was Saul's first-born son.  When compared side-by-side, the opposing relationships are striking!  Where Saul was envious, Jonathan was supportive.  Where Saul sought to destroy, Jonathan sought to protect.

jealousy, hatred, and unjustified persecution
David had huge success in leading troops on the battlefield.  So much so that the ballads sung at the time compared Saul as killing his thousands and David as killing his ten thousands.  Instead of being grateful for the victories David achieved in carrying out Saul's orders, Saul became dangerously jealous and sought to kill David (1 Samuel 18:8-6).  He saw a threat when there was none, as David would never lay a hand on "the Lord's anointed."  Even after Saul threatened David's life, David's family's lives, and prevented David from worshiping the Lord, David spared Saul's life.  David knew Saul was the Lord's anointed and, although he was failing miserably, the Lord would take care of things.

true friendship, unconditional love and support
Jonathan and David made a covenant of friendship right from the beginning (1 Samuel 18:1-4).  Even though it seems that Jonathan knew Samuel anointed David as the next king, when usually the first-born son was to inherit the throne, Jonathan fully supported David in whatever his soul desired (1 Samuel 20).  Jonathan's faith in the Lord became a strength and a positive influence on David.  In turn, David supported and uplifted Jonathan.

President Ezra Taft Bensen best sums up Saul's attitude and choices, “Saul became an enemy to David through pride. He was jealous because the crowds of Israelite women were singing that ‘Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’ (1 Samuel 18:7; see also 1 Samuel 18:6, 8).

“The proud stand more in fear of men’s judgment than of God’s judgment. … ‘What will men think of me?’ weighs heavier than ‘What will God think of me?’ …

“Fear of men’s judgment manifests itself in competition for men’s approval. The proud love ‘the praise of men more than the praise of God’ (John 12:42–43). Our motives for the things we do are where the sin is manifest. Jesus said He did ‘always those things’ that pleased God (John 8:29). Would we not do well to have the pleasing of God as our motive rather than to try to elevate ourselves above our brother and outdo another?

“Some prideful people are not so concerned as to whether their wages meet their needs as they are that their wages are more than someone else’s. Their reward is being a cut above the rest. …

“When pride has a hold on our hearts, we lose our independence of the world and deliver our freedoms to the bondage of men’s judgment. The world shouts louder than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. The reasoning of men overrides the revelations of God, and the proud let go of the iron rod."
I need to make sure I keep those knee-jerk negative emotions and thoughts in check, hopefully to eradicate them altogether (which will take a lot of work and a lot of time), and instead work on being that true friend Jonathan was to David.  I like this self-evaluation check included in this lesson.  Regularly answering these questions will undoubtably be the reminder and teh exercise I need in order to become a better friend.
  1. What was the last kind thing you did for someone?
  2. What do you do when you hear someone saying unkind things about another person?
  3. What have you done to help your friends be better people?
The story of Jonathan and David reminds me that true friendship and love bring me closer to my friends and to God. The story of Saul reminds me that jealousy and hatred can consume me and lead me away from my friends and from God.   This story encourages me to better be true to my friends so I can say to them, “The Lord be between thee and me for ever” (1 Samuel 20:23) (Gospel Doctrine Lesson 23 conclusion).

Best friends :)
Most amazing birthday trip!  Dirty Girl Mud Run with my friends.

My wonderful friends supporting me as I go through the temple.


  1. The commentary about Saul and David, and David’s refusal to kill him struck me. It was David’s job to support Saul in his calling, even though he was failing miserably, and that it was not David’s job to remove Saul from the calling, it was God’s job. That is why he refused to kill him. Not because he felt his life was unsafe with Saul around, not because he felt it was wrong to kill a man, but because he knew he need to be responsible for his actions, and support Saul in his calling. But this did not mean he did whatever Saul said. He recognized that Saul was kind of flaky. He recognized that Saul was not the greatest guy, and that he would likely kill him if he put himself in the hands of Saul. That is why he did not follow up with Saul, and did not join him. He kept his distance.
    Likewise in our day. The Lord has promised us that he will not allow our prophets and apostles to lead us astray. He has promised us that we all will know that before they lead us astray, they will be removed from their calling. In this way, we are secure in knowing that the teachings of the church are true and up=to-date. We know that no matter the issue being discussed, we have to follow through with that the prophets say. Not just because we have been commanded to do so, because it will strengthen our faith, but because we know from modern revelation that the words of the prophets are as from the mouth of God.

    1. Thanks for you comment and your insight into this.


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