“And it came to pass, when he had ended speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with 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. And Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his dress, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle” (1 Sam. 18: 1–4).
What an exquisite picture we have here! A picture of love stripping itself to clothe its object. There is a vast difference between Saul and Jonathan in this scene. Saul took David home in order to magnify himself by keeping such a hero in his company, but Jonathan stripped himself to clothe David because he loved him. Jonathan, in common with the rest of the army of Israel, had watched David go forth, single–handed, to meet the terrible foe who had struck such terror into the hearts of the people. He had seen that arrogant giant laid low by the hand of faith. He had joined with all in the joy of the victory. Yet there was more than this. It was not merely the victory but the victor that filled the heart of Jonathan––not merely the work done, but the one who had done it. Jonathan did not rest satisfied with saying “Thank God, the giant is dead, and we are delivered, and can go back home”. No, he felt his heart drawn and knit to the person of the conqueror. It was not that he valued the victory less, but that he valued the victor more, and hence he found his joy in stripping himself of his robes and his armour in order to put them on the object of his affection.
Christian reader, there is a lesson for us here, and not only a lesson, but a rebuke. How prone we are to be occupied with redemption rather than with the Redeemer––with salvation rather than with the Saviour! No doubt we should rejoice in our salvation, but should we stop there? Should we not, like Jonathan, seek to strip ourselves in order to magnify the One who went down into the dust of death for us? Certainly we should––all the more because He does not exact anything from us. David did not ask Jonathan for his robe or his sword. No, it was a purely voluntary act. Jonathan forgot himself, and thought only of David. Thus it should be with us and the true David! “I count also all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all, and count them to be filth, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3: 8). Oh for more of this spirit!