Were King David and Jonathan LOVERS?

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Question:  Were David and King Saul's son Jonathan LOVERS? Or were they just the best of friends? Was King David GAY?

Answer: It's unfortunate that many people equate sex with love. Any two people can indulge in sex, but they don't necessarily love each other. Such people are the ones who promote the idea of homosexuality between Jonathan and David.

Now comes a problem. These same people have an ally in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew word for love ( 'âhab, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #H157) in 1Samuel 18:1,3; 20:17, refers to having affection for, sexually or otherwise. Naturally those who see David and Jonathan as lovers conveniently overlook the OTHERWISE.

They also overlook the fact that 'âhab is used elsewhere in the Old Testament for non-sexual love. In Genesis 22:2 God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac, whom he loved ['âhab], as a sacrifice. With Abraham more than a hundred years of age, and Isaac being a young adult, this was not likely sexual love.

Isaac was old and blind when he called for his son, Esau, to shoot a deer and "make me savory meat, such as I love ['âhab] ." (Genesis 27:1-4). Certainly nothing sexual in this.

Joseph was his father's favorite son, and when his brothers saw their father loved ['âhab] him more than the rest, they hated him (Genesis 37:3-4).

Possibly the most important consideration of the word LOVE is in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4-6; Deuteronomy 5:8-10).

In speaking to the Israelites, God said, ". . . you shall love ['âhab] your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18). If this sounds familiar it's because Jesus said the same thing in Matthew 5:43 and other New Testament scriptures. The Greek in these scriptures is agapaö (agape), Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, #G25 referring to loving in a social sense, or having benevolence toward a person.

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In Deuteronomy 6:4-5 the nation of Israel was commanded to love ['âhab] the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might.

So far the love has been between humans, or between humans and God. Now it's the other way around: God says he will love ['âhab] his people (Deuteronomy 7:13).

Other examples of 'âhab include Solomon, who loved the Lord (1 Kings 3:3); Uzziah loved animal farming (2 Chronicles 26:9-10); The king loved Esther more than all the women (Esther 2:17); David wondered how long the sons of men will love vanity (Psalm 4:2) and many others.

There are examples of sexual love in the Old Testament, but generally other Hebrew words are used. I think, however, these examples are sufficient to indicate a deep friendship between Jonathan and David, and nothing more.

God commanded King Saul to get rid of the Amalekites, killing man, woman, child, and even the livestock (1 Samuel 15:1-3). But Saul had other ideas. He killed the people, but spared the Amalekite king, and some of the animals (verse 9).

When Saul met Samuel, he said, "I have done what the lord commanded" (1Samuel 15:13). Samuel was not buying it, and asked about the animal sounds he heard (verse 14). Saul was not about to take the blame (verse 15). Saul not only rejected the commandment of God, but rejected the Lord as his God. He said the people wanted to sacrifice the animals to "your" God.

Samuel countered,

"Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? . . . Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you from being king." (1Samuel 15:22-23)

As Samuel left, Saul grabbed his robe, and it ripped. Samuel said that God has torn ruling over Israel from Saul (verses 27-28).

What an insult! Not only would Saul lose his kingship, his successor would be someone who, God said, was a better man than Saul.

It didn't take place that day. In fact, Saul remained king until his death. You likely know the story about David coming to Saul's palace, killing Goliath, and being honored by the women more than Saul (1Samuel 18:7). Saul was a violent and angry man and, several times, tried to kill David out of insane jealousy.

Jonathan should have been the heir to the throne, but Saul's disobedience changed that. When Saul realized David would be his successor, he hated the idea that Jonathan would have him as his best friend (1Samuel 20:30).

Saul spoke of a matter of loyalty, not of a sexual relationship.

Then there's the archery scene which told David whether it would be safe to stay in the city. The outcome was David would have to leave, and perhaps never see Jonathan again.

Despite knowing he would, one day, wear the crown, David was honorable to the king as long as he lived. In one instance, while Saul was sleeping in a cave, David crept in and cut off the hem of his robe, when he could just as easily have killed him. Why didn't he? After all, Saul was out to kill him. Yet shortly after, David bowed to Saul, and called him "My lord the king." (1Samuel 24:8). He recognized Saul as still being God's anointed (1Samuel 24:6).

David was also honorable to Jonathan as the apparent heir to the throne. That's why he bowed himself three times in reverence as he approached his friend.

Yes, they kissed each other. Maybe they kissed on the lips, but they more likely kissed the cheeks as has been the custom with men through many centuries, and in many cultures. It's interesting that people who would think of their kiss as a sexual thing would NEVER consider the same meaning applied to the kiss Judas gave to Jesus.

Four times the apostle Paul wrote we are to greet the brethren with a holy kiss (Romans 16:16; 1Corinthians 16:20; 2Corinthians 13:12; 1Thessalonians 5:26). Scholars have wrestled with this for years, without coming to a conclusion as to what a 'holy kiss' is. Man to man? Woman to woman? Man to woman, and vice versa? Cheek, forehead, lips? One thing is certain, it would not be a sexual kiss, else it would lead Christians to break the adultery commandment (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:27-28).

You are right in saying that even if David and Jonathan's relationship was not sexual in nature that nevertheless their connection must have been intimate and their separation deep sadness. When you have lived seventy years you will have experienced the pain of a loved one leaving. But, even then, it really won't be as distressful as the parting of David and Jonathan. They couldn't pick up a telephone and contact each other, as we can, or even send an Email. We can travel farther in a day to visit our friends than they could in weeks. Only through death might our parting be as distressful as David and Jonathan's was to them.

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