Q. While Les gives many great examples of how 'âhab can be used to describe love that has no base in sexuality, he forgets to discuss why David and Jonathan's relationship COULD NOT have been sexual. He also hasn't addressed the scriptures which suggest that there was more going on here than simply best friends (1Samuel 20:30, 41). Even though there may not be enough evidence to prove that they were in love and attracted to each other, I've seen no evidence to the contrary either.
A. You likely know the Biblical accounts mentioned quite well. It is important, however, to review them as a lead-in to the response to your questions.
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. He said,
"They . . . The people spared the best animals to sacrifice to the Lord your God, but we destroyed the rest (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.
"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,
"[In the same way my robe has been torn], the Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you, and given it to a neighbour of yours who is better than you." (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:
"Saul was furious with Jonathan and yelled, 'You’re no son of mine, you traitor! (in today's vernacular Saul called his son: "You son of a bitch!") I know you've chosen to be loyal to that son of Jesse. You should be ashamed of yourself! And your own mother should be ashamed that you were ever born.' " (1Samuel 20:30 Contemporary English Version)"
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).
David and Jonathan were in a field, and the treachery that awaited David made it vital that he leave quickly (1 Samuel 20:31). It certainly was not the time for a lengthy encounter.
It's easy to take one verse of scripture and say, "Aha!" But for those who claim the kiss in 1 Samuel 20:41 was homosexual in nature haven't read far enough. In verse 42 Jonathan said to David,
"Then Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, 'May the LORD be between you and me, and between YOUR DESCENDANTS and MY DESCENDANTS, forever.'" " (1Samuel 20:42, NKJV)
Children are not the result of homosexual relationships.
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.