Quick! Hurry! Bible trivia time.
This is a fill-in-the-blank, so gird your loins. Are you ready? Prepared? Summoning to mind all your arcane knowledge of the Old Testament prophets, in which case you are a far more accomplished Biblical scholar than I am? Here we go:
____ killed Goliath with a sling and a stone.
The answer, of course, is David. It’s easy, right? You’re probably disappointed by how easy it was. (Go ahead and put away your knowledge of Amos for another day. I am deeply sorry.) And the reason it’s easy is because David is one of the Bible’s heavy hitters: God’s golden child. A Goliath-slayer. A poet. A warrior. A beloved king. A great sinner who nonetheless repented of his sin and subsequently received God’s grace and forgiveness. A man about whom God Himself testified, calling him “a man after my own heart” (1 Samuel 13-14).
Everyone likes to talk about David. Everyone wants to be a David. His story in the Bible is epic, the evidence of what one person can do with a heart set on God and nothing else. He led. He inspired. He loved God deeply. And he believed.
But we’re not here to talk about him.
No, for the six weeks after this one we’ll be talking about Jonathan. You know. Jonathan. David’s best friend. And that’s how history remembers him, really: as David’s best friend. His story rarely stands on its own; it always exists as a footnote in David’s far more epic tale.
Jonathan’s life, you see, was quiet – marked by an equally quiet love and loyalty. We know little about his youngest years and his childhood. His ignoble death comes too soon. His short life is marked by service, obedience, and sacrifice. And what we understand of him is almost always in the context of his relationship to others: to his father, Saul, the king of Israel, to his cherished friend David, to his men.
But we ignore his story and what the Bible shows us about him at our peril.
What most of us forget is that without Jonathan, there is no King David. We gloss over the fact that it took the quiet, self-sacrificing, resentment-free life of one man, along with God’s grace and protection, to secure the path to kingship for a giant-slayer. As much as any other Biblical figure, Jonathan lived out the words that Christ spoke to His disciples in Luke 22:26:
But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
We all want to be David. But the truth is that, whether for a season or a lifetime, we are all going to be called to a life like Jonathan’s: a life of deeply affectionate love, unquestioning personal sacrifice, and resentment-free, devoted service.
In this study, we’re going to be looking at what that kind of a life looks like beyond trite platitudes. As we comb through Jonathan’s life, we’re going to talk about the expectations we have for ourselves, about our sense of entitlement, and what God does – and very clearly does not – promise us. We’re going to talk about our hopes deferred, what we’re destined for (and what we want to be destined for), our need for closure, our sense of fairness and justice, and our seething resentments. We’ll talk about losing our need for control and what it means to lay our dreams on the altar.
The study, six weeks total, will cover a different facet of Jonathan’s life each week. Here’s the planned layout:
Week 1. Prince: Killing Your Expectations and Rewriting Your Plans
Week 2. Son: Service Under The Sting Of Pain, Betrayal, and Sorrow
Week 3. Warrior: Achieving Victory From A Position of Weakness
Week 4. Accused: Meeting Life’s Unfairness With Integrity and Grace
Week 5: Father: Confronting The Prospect of What Remains Undone
Week 6: Friend: The Cost and the Nature Of Living In Christlike Service
I pray you will join me for this study! Each week I’ll be posting the relevant study material right here to the study section. There will be accompanying Scripture for you to read and plenty of tips, tricks, and questions for personal application, so you’ll be able to make use of what you’re learning week to week in your daily life. You’re welcome to comment here with your thoughts on each week, to message me through the blog, or even to poke me on Twitter. Feel free to invite friends to join in, and if you want to invite someone who doesn’t have consistent internet access, please let me know! I am happy to email/mail the study as we go along.
In the coming week, I’ll be in prayer for the study and for all who will be participating. In the meantime, you might find it worthwhile to start chewing on the following questions:
- In what ways do you struggle with servanthood?
- Do you equate servanthood with “church service” or church activities? In what ways do you serve beyond those?
- Whom do you serve as a believer? Whom do you often not serve? Why?
- What circumstances make it easiest, and most difficult, to serve?
- What has serving cost you – or has it cost you anything at all?
I look forward to seeing you next week. Until then, be well and blessed. May God work a great change in all our lives.