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SERMON XV.

JONATHAN, THE TRUE FRIEND.

II. SAMUEL, T. 26.

"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant bast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women."

These words are part of that "lament” of David's over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, which we have heard as the first lesson for the Sixth Sunday after Trinity. The whole of the lament, consisting as it does of only ten verses, is memorable as a piece of the highest lyrical poetry. There is nothing in the greatest works of Greek or Roman, more beautiful, more touching, more full of the fire of real genius. You all remember the occasion of that lament.

David had returned from the slaughter of the Amalekites, and was abiding two days at Ziklag, and there he was accosted by a man out of Saul's army; with rent clothes, and earth upon his head, who brought the tidings of the death of Saul, and Jonathan in battle. - Moreover, to gain credit for his word, he presented David with the crown that was on Saul's head, and the bracelet he wore on his arm, which crown and bracelet, he (the messenger) had meanly taken from the dead body of the King. To enhance, as he foolishly thought, the reward of his news, and gain favour with David, the man falsely accused himself, of having put the finishing stroke to the wounded King at his request, by which falsehood he lost, as you know, his own life. “How," said David in anger, “wast thou not afraid, to stretch forth thy hand, to destroy the Lord's anointed,” and he “called one of the young men, and said, go near, and fall upon him; and he smote him that he died."

After thus avenging as far as he could the death of Saul on the man who had said that he had slain him, thereby testifying to the respect for Saul's high office, the "dignity,” (almost divinity) "that men heap round a King," David composed and sang the famous ode, which is preserved in the first chapter of the second book of Samuel, a song which will hand down to all after ages the loveliness of Jonathan's character, and witness to the strength of a friendship between him and David, which has never been surpassed; rarely equalled among men.

“The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.” Then he goes on to describe the brave deeds of Saul and Jonathan. “From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty. Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided : they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.” He appeals to the women of the land to add their tears to the national sorrow. “Ye daughters of Israel, weep for Saul! who clothed you in scarlet,"'

! who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel,” and then after thus extolling Saul in losty words, and claiming the dues of sorrow for him as a great warrior king who had enriched the nation, he goes on to speak more particularly of Jonathan, his friend, and you

will note how the strain changes, and the song at its close has a note of most tender and true sadness.

“O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places. I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been to me: thy love to me was

wonderful, passing the love of women!”

Let us ponder this morning, I trust to our profit, on the character of Jonathan, whose death drew the notes of tender genuine anguish from the heart of the inspired Psalmist.

Jonathan was the son of Saul, his eldest son, and by natural order next to him in succession to the throne of Israel; he was a man too like David himself, of great personal courage; there was not a braver man in the kingdom, and as he was a man of courage, so he was a man of faith. We have an instance of his bravery in the marked fact of Jonathan and his armour-bearer going alone by their two selves unknown to the rest of the army to attack the garrison of the Philistines, whom they put to rout; and having slain about twenty men, the rout became a panic, and before the end of the day, the entire host of the Philistines was broken up and dispersed. And as he was a man of courage, so he was a man of faith; he did not go in his own strength against the Philistines; he went in reliance on God's help. His trust in God is fully shown by the words in which he made known his purpose to his armour-bearer, Come, let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us, for there is no restraint in the Lord to save by many or by few." Here then were two great qualities combined in Jonathan, courage and faith. With such

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qualities, who could be more fit to succeed to the Sceptre of Israel? And yet Jonathan waived all claim on behalf of the man whom he loved; he recognised, we may think, in David, qualities for rule greater than his own; without a particle of envy he stood aside, to make way for David even as John the Baptist did for Our Lord, and was prepared, had he out-lived his father, to accept David as his King.

“Thou," he said, “Thou shalt be King: and I shall be next unto thee.” This surely bespeaks a most rare excellence in Jonathan, this readiness to take a lower place than was his natural due: to see without a particle of envy one whom he could have crushed, raised

up to be his master. I say it argues a most rare excellence, that true humility of soul which is content "to take the lower place," and which is commended by our Lord in the Gospel.

This yielding of the first place to David by Jonathan will necessarily be connected in our mind with the friendship that was between them, and which has coupled their names together for ever in Scripture.

“The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David,” “And Jonathan loved David as his own soul.” “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle." Could we have a stronger and more

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