David and Jonathan have a very interesting relationship. More than friends, these two were like brothers. They rely on each other, inform for each other, and have the kind of intimate friendship that most of us only long for. Yet their relationship is also very real. Jonathan can’t imagine his father Saul not liking David as he does, so he denies the testimony of his own eyes. This kind of loyalty is what Saul craves, and he finds it in his son. Yet once Jonathan sees Saul’s rage against David, he is Team David all the way.
Many have questioned this relationship as “unusually intimate” and have declared them homosexual lovers. Just in the last month, I’ve heard this argument brought up in a discussion, so the argument is not going away. I don’t believe them to be bisexual (David does have a wife and children) for a few different reasons. First, it would have been so unusual in Jewish society that it could not have gone without note. Homosexual activity was against the holiness code of Leviticus and so would have been commented on had it been so for David, Israel’s greatest king. Second, the argument is one from silence – there is no mention of homosexual activity in the scriptures. Instead, we tear this friendship out of it’s time and put it in ours with our assumptions and our cultural norms. Because today we don’t have this kind of friendship, a friendship of love without sex, we cannot imagine it ever existing. American culture is so obsessed with sex that we read it into everything, even when it’s not there.
But don’t we all long for a friend like this? Someone who would give up their family, their power, their wealth, even their own life for ours. Someone so close that we share everything. Someone like Jonathan was for David. If you have someone like that in your life, hold on to them. If not, it would be a good idea to work for one. “To have a friend, you have to be a friend,” my mom always used to tell me. Maybe it begins by being the kind of friend you want to have and then going from there.
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