Answer: It is unfortunate that many people equate sex with love. It is such assumptions that lead to promoting the false teaching that King David and Jonathan were homosexuals. Now comes a problem. These same people think they have an ally in the Hebrew language in regard to their conclusion that these two men were gay. Let us take a brief look at the few verses that show that David and Jonathan were, indeed, very close friends.
The Bible gives us some detail how close was the friendship between David and King Saul's son Jonathan and will help us clarify whether they were gay (homosexuals) or not.
. . . (they) made a covenant because he loved (Hebrew: ahab) him as his own soul . . . And Jonathan caused David to swear again because he loved (Hebrew: ahabah) him, for he loved (Hebrew: ahab) him as he loved (Hebrew: ahabah) his own soul" (1Samuel 18:3, 20:17, HBFV).
The Hebrew word ahabah (Strong's Concordance #H160) is the feminine form of ahab (Strong's #H157). Strong's, as well as Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions, defines ahab as having affection for someone (either sexually or "otherwise") and loving them like a friend or family member.
Sadly, those who want to believe David was a homosexual conveniently overlook the "otherwise" part of the above definition. They overlook the fact that ahab is commonly used elsewhere in the Old Testament for non-sexual love.
For example, in Genesis 22, God tells Abraham to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice. The Hebrew word ahab is used when the Lord commands him,
Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love (ahab), and go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you" (Genesis 22:2).
It would be ridiculous to think that God was stating that Abraham was gay and he should sacrifice a child he was sexually abusing.
Another use of this word is found when Isaac, an old and blind man, called for his son Esau to shoot a deer for him. He requested the following,
And now please take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make savory meat for me, such as I love (ahab) . . . (Genesis 27:3 - 4).
Clearly, there was nothing homosexual about Isaac's request of his firstborn son.
Proof of Definition
Perhaps the most important example of defining what ahab usually means can be found in its relationship to the Ten Commandments.
After the Eternal gave his laws to the ancient Israelites, he summed up how humans were to treat each other with the following admonition.
You shall not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love (ahab) your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18).
If this admonition sounds familiar, it is because Jesus quoted it in Matthew 5:43 when he gave his famous Sermon on the Mount.
Even though King David and Jonathan's relationship was not sexual (homosexual) in nature, their connection was close and their ultimate separation (due to King Saul) brought on deep sadness. They could not pick up a telephone and contact each other, as we can, or even send an Email. Only through death might our parting be as distressful as David experienced. They had a deep friendship that was indeed rare.