Abrahamic / Middle Eastern Christianity Meet Jonathan in the Bible: Eldest Son of King Saul The eldest son of King Saul teaches us how to make the hard choices in life Share Flipboard Email Print King Saul hurls his spear at Jonathan, confirming his intent to kill David (1 Samuel 20:33). SuperStock / Getty Images Christianity The Old Testament Christianity Origins The Bible The New Testament Practical Tools for Christians Christian Life For Teens Christian Prayers Weddings Inspirational Bible Devotions Denominations of Christianity Funerals and Memorial Services Christian Holidays Christian Entertainment Key Terms in Christianity Catholicism Latter Day Saints View More By Jack Zavada Christianity Expert M.A., English Composition, Illinois State University B.S., English Literature, Illinois State University Jack Zavada is a writer who covers the Bible, theology, and other Christianity topics. He is the author of "Hope for Hurting Singles: A Christian Guide to Overcoming Life's Challenges." our editorial process Jack Zavada Updated February 19, 2019 Jonathan in the Bible was famous for being the best friend of the Bible hero David. He stands as a shining example of how to make the hard choices in life and consistently honor God. The Legacy of Jonathan in the Bible Jonathan was a man of utmost courage, loyalty, wisdom, and honor. Born with the potential to be one of Israel’s greatest kings, he knew God had anointed David to the throne instead. Regrettably, he was torn between love and devotion to his father, the king, and faithfulness to his beloved friend, David. Although seriously tested, he managed to stay loyal to his father while still recognizing that God had chosen David. Jonathan’s integrity has earned him a high place of honor in the hall of biblical heroes. The eldest son of King Saul, Jonathan became friends with David shortly after David killed the giant Goliath. Over the course of his life, Jonathan had to choose between his father the king, and David, his closest friend. Jonathan, whose name means "Jehovah has given," was one of the greatest heroes in the Bible. A valient warrior, he led the Israelites to a great victory over the Philistines at Geba, then with no one but his armor-bearer to help, routed the enemy again at Michmash, causing panic in the Philistine camp. Conflict came as King Saul's sanity crumbled. In a culture where family was everything, Jonathan had to choose between blood and friendship. Scripture tells us Jonathan made a covenant with David, giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt. When Saul ordered Jonathan and his servants to kill David, Jonathan defended his friend and convinced Saul to reconcile with David. Later, Saul became so angry at his son for befriending David that he threw a spear at Jonathan. Jonathan knew the prophet Samuel had anointed David to be the next king of Israel. Even though he may have had a claim to the throne, Jonathan recognized God's favor was with David. When the hard choice came, Jonathan acted on his love for David and respect for the will of God. In the end, God used the Philistines to make way for David to become king. When confronted with death in battle, Saul fell on his sword near Mount Gilboa. On that same day, the Philistines killed Saul's sons Abinadab, Malki-Shua, and Jonathan. David was heartbroken. He led Israel in mourning for Saul, and for Jonathan, the best friend he ever had. In a final gesture of love, David took in Mephibosheth, the lame son of Jonathan, gave him a home and provided for him in honor of the oath David had made to his lifelong friend. Accomplishments of Jonathan in the Bible Jonathan defeated the Philistines at Gibeah and Micmash. The army loved him so much they rescued him from a foolish oath made by Saul (1 Samuel 14:43-46). Jonathan was a loyal friend to David his entire life. Strengths Jonathan was a hero in many ways with the character strengths of integrity, loyalty, wisdom, courage, and the fear of God. Life Lessons When we are faced with a hard choice, as Jonathan was, we can find out what to do by consulting the Bible, the source of God's truth. The will of God always prevails over our human instincts. Hometown Jonathan's family came from the territory of Benjamin, north and east of the Dead Sea, in Israel. References to Jonathan in the Bible Jonathan's story is told in the books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. Occupation Jonathan served as an officer in Israel's army. Family Tree Father: SaulMother: AhinoamBrothers: Abinadab, Malki-ShuaSisters: Merab, MichalSon: Mephibosheth Key Bible Verses And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself. (1 Samuel 20:17, NIV) Now the Philistines fought against Israel; the Israelites fled before them, and many fell slain on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines pressed hard after Saul and his sons, and they killed his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-shua. (1 Samuel 31:1-2, NIV) “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women." (2 Samuel 1:25-26, NIV) Sources The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, general editor.Smith's Bible Dictionary, William Smith.Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Trent C. Butler, general editor.Nave's Topical Bible.