Anger or Action

There is no such thing as dry history in Scripture––every verse contains a lesson. Let me take up just one: “And Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no meat the second day of the new moon; for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame” (1 Sam. 20: 34). If David was not welcome at the table of Saul, then how was it that Jonathan was there? Notwithstanding the deep affection he had expressed to his friend, natural links weighed heavily with Jonathan, and he was never able to break with his father. That is the tragedy of his life. Heaven will never forget all that Jonathan did for David––the practical outworking of the love in his heart––but the stark fact is that at the end he perished, not at the side of David, but in the company of his apostate father! How much better it would have been if, on rising from Saul’s table, he had never returned! His place was not there, but in rejection with David.

   Without question there is great reality here: fierce anger against Saul, and grief for David. Jonathan felt the hatred there was for David, and the injustice done against him. Like Christ, David was hated “without a cause” (Ps. 69: 4)––“And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, Why should he be put to death? what has he done?” (1 Sam. 20: 32). There is something peculiarly thrilling for the heart of the believer in seeing the anger and indignation of Jonathan, and yet, at the same time, it must be tinged with sadness––sadness that the action was not followed through to its proper end. And have we not seen this in our day? Vital truths––the virgin birth, the resurrection of Christ––are assailed by churchmen, and many a true believer has raised a protest. Yet they stay where they are! “Fierce anger” is not enough. If we love Christ, and our companions do “him shame”, then we must “withdraw from iniquity” (2 Tim. 2: 19). In simple terms, we cannot stay where Christ is hated.