As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father's house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul's servants. (1 Samuel 18:1-5)
Many have speculated about the relationship of David and Jonathan. What constitutes the love they shared? Of course, in today's post-modern culture, some say that David and Jonathan became lovers. Of course, this is nonsense from an historical sense and also from a grammatical one: sexual love in the Old Testament uses the verb "to know" where the Hebrew word used in our passage is "to love" in a truer, more full sense. The question remains: what is happening here?
From the simplest standpoint, one so simple that it is overlooked in today's theological environment (but not during the reformation), what is happening is that David is replacing Jonathan as true heir to the throne of Israel. Remember, David has been anointed king, God's chosen. Saul is still physically on the throne, and Jonathan, as Saul's actual son, is destined to inherit the throne and be king. What God is doing here is he is knitting the soul of Jonathan to the soul of David so that David becomes not only the supernaturally revealed heir to the throne but also the physical heir to the throne as well. Jonathan makes a covenant with David, making this transfer of future power official, and he actually gives David the ornaments of his Lordship. Jonathan does what Saul can never do. Remember, from last sermon, that Saul is willing to bring David close to him in order to use David to further his success, but Saul is never able to submit to David as his Lord and King, even though David has been anointed as such. Jonathan does just that: he submits to David as his Lord and King, just as we are to submit to Jesus Christ as our Lord and King.
Since the 80s there has been a movement attempting to deny the Lordship of Jesus. The alternative to calling Jesus Lord is that we not become disciples in the true sense and merely give mental assent to Christ's salvation of our souls. Belief without submission and obedience is not true belief, for a justifying faith will alter the behavior of the faithful one. One with true faith may fail at keeping God's commandments, but he will TRY, and when he fails he will repent. So, a true faith in Christ is one that acknowledges Jesus as Lord as well as savior. Christ himself tells us many times that all of the elect have been given to him by the Father. Christ is our owner, so he is our Lord and Master. In the sermon in Acts 2, Peter says, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."
Let's look at the covenant that Jonathan makes with David to understand our covenant with Christ. Remember first that there is a knitting of Jonathan's soul to David's before the covenant, and this knitting is not an act of Jonathan's but an act of God. This can be compared to the regeneration of the soul of the elect by the Lord that precedes faith. Paul explains how all of this happens in Romans 10:5-13.
1. We are all born into a covenant of works, a righteousness that is based on the law of God, best expressed in the 10 commandments. We are unable to keep this law.
2. The covenant of Christ (or faith) rejects self-salvation entirely. No one is able to get to heaven on works of the law.
3. The covenant of Christ also rejects our atoning for another. Because of our own sins, we are unable to die on another's behalf. Our own sins stand in the way and must be taken care of first.
4. Faith seems to have two components: a heart component and a spoken component.
5. The Lordship of Christ seems to be the spoken component. What does this mean? It means that a true belief in the heart, a justifying faith, will reveal itself to the world not as a complicated explanation of the atonement but as a simple confession of Jesus being the Lord of our life, your owner, your master.
6. Justification is a matter of the heart, but this justification drives the outward confession of the Lordship of Christ. This confession is a method of evangelism. Knowing that Christ has saved you will manifest into outward connection with others about Jesus as King.
This is why Paul and Peter both say that, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." When I preach, I could explain the atonement from all angles, but unless Christ has bought you with his blood and is your Lord, my words are meaningless. All of Paul's brilliant words in his letters are merely academic if God has not taken you out of the covenant of works and placed you in the covenant of faith. We are not saved unless God has knit our spirit to his own, like Jonathan's to David's, and we have made Christ our Lord and savior.