1 Samuel 20:16
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) So Jonathan made a covenant.—It is not necessary to supply (as in the English Version) “saying,” but it is better to understand this verse as a remark interposed in the dialogue by the narrator, and to translate the Hebrew literally, “So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, and Jehovah required it at the hand of David’s enemies.”

1 Samuel 20:16-17. So Jonathan made a covenant — The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David’s side, which doubtless he obtained. At the hand of David’s enemies — If either I, or any of my house, shall prove enemies to David or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it. Jonathan caused David to swear again — Hebrew, and Jonathan added or proceeded to swear; that is, having himself sworn to David, or adjured David, in the foregoing verse, he here requires David’s oath to him, by way of restipulation or confirmation. For he loved him, &c. — The greatness of his love to him induced him to use every means in his power to secure David’s friendship to himself and his posterity, and to ensure the inviolable observance of this covenant through all their generations.20:11-23 Jonathan faithfully promises that he would let David know how he found his father affected towards him. It will be kindness to ourselves and to ours, to secure an interest in those whom God favours, and to make his friends ours. True friendship rests on a firm basis, and is able to silence ambition, self-love, and undue regard for others. But who can fully understand the love of Jesus, who gave himself as a sacrifice for rebellious, polluted sinners! how great then ought to be the force and effects of our love to him, to his cause, and his people!The general meaning is: Jonathan had a presentiment, doubtless from God, that David would be established upon the throne. By God's mercy he had the comfort, which he well deserved, of knowing that his own posterity would receive kindness at David's hand (see the marginal references). 1Sa 20:11-23. Their Covenant Renewed by Oath.

11. Jonathan said to David, Come, let us go into the field—The private dialogue, which is here detailed at full length, presents a most beautiful exhibition of these two amiable and noble-minded friends. Jonathan was led, in the circumstances, to be the chief speaker. The strength of his attachment, his pure disinterestedness, his warm piety, his invocation to God (consisting of a prayer and a solemn oath combined), the calm and full expression he gave of his conviction that his own family were, by the divine will, to be disinherited, and David elevated to the possession of the throne, the covenant entered into with David on behalf of his descendants, and the imprecation (1Sa 20:16) denounced on any of them who should violate his part of the conditions, the reiteration of this covenant on both sides (1Sa 20:17) to make it indissoluble—all this indicates such a power of mutual affection, such magnetic attractiveness in the character of David, such susceptibility and elevation of feeling in the heart of Jonathan, that this interview for dramatic interest and moral beauty stands unrivalled in the records of human friendship.

The covenant which before was personal, he now extends to the whole house of David, expecting a reciprocal enlargement of it on David’s side, which doubtless he obtained.

Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies; if either I or any of my house shall break this covenant, and shall prove enemies to David, or to his house, let the Lord, the witness of this covenant, severely punish the violators of it, whoever they are. Others thus, Let the Lord require and punish the breach of this covenant in David, if he break it. But because it was ominous and reproachful to suppose such a thing of David, by a figure called euphemismus, he names David’s enemies for David; as they also expound 1 Samuel 25:22. But the former sense seems more probable, because this verse contains only Jonathan’s stipulation or covenant with David and his house, which being expressed in the former part of it, is in this latter part confirmed by the usual form of imprecation; and the restipulation or covenant of David to Jonathan and his house is mentioned in the next verse. Yet may that other sense stand well enough; taking these words for Jonathan’s adjuration of David to be kind to him, confirmed with an imprecation in case he do otherwise; as if he should say, I adjure thee, as thou hopest to escape such a mischief, (which I had rather might befall thine enemies than thee,) that thou deal not so ungratefully with me or my house: which adjuration of Jonathan David seconds by an oath in the next verse, at the request of Jonathan. So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David,.... Not with David himself only, which was now renewed, but with his family also:

saying, let the Lord even require it at the hand of David's enemies; take vengeance on Jonathan, or on any of his posterity, should they break this covenant, by showing themselves enemies to David, and his crown; and, on the other hand, also on David, and his posterity, should they not show kindness to Jonathan and his seed, according to the tenor of this covenant.

So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. So Jonathan, &c.] (1) The E. V. treats this as a remark of the historian: and apparently understands Jonathan’s words “Let the Lord, &c.” to mean “Let the Lord exact vengeance from David by the hand of his enemies if he fails to fulfil the covenant.” But this involves an unusual construction. We should expect, “Let the Lord require it at the hand of David,” if he fails to fulfil the covenant (cp. Deuteronomy 23:21): and possibly “David’s enemies” is an euphemism for “David,” substituted by a scribe in later times. Cp. note on 1 Samuel 25:22. (2) The Sept. points to a text making the whole of 1 Samuel 20:16 part of Jonathan’s speech: “And when the Lord hath cut off, &c. let not the name of Jonathan be cut off from the house of David, and may the Lord take vengeance on the enemies of David.”Verse 16. - This verse also is very difficult, but it is probably to be taken as an insertion of the narrator: "So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David" - that is, so as to bind his descendants - "saying, Let Jehovah require it at the hand of David's enemies." These last words probably are a euphemism, and mean David himself. So Rashi explains the words. The courtesy of an Oriental forbade his saying, May Jehovah punish David for it, but he prays that God would requite it on some one. But if the Divine anger visits even David's enemies for it, how much more the guilty perjurer himself. To this friendly assurance David replied, "Who will tell me?" sc., how thy father expresses himself concerning me; "or what will thy father answer thee roughly?" sc., if thou shouldst attempt to do it thyself. This is the correct explanation given by De Wette and Maurer. Gesenius and Thenius, on the contrary, take או in the sense of "if perchance." But this is evidently incorrect; for even though there are certain passages in which או may be so rendered, it is only where some other case is supposed, and therefore the meaning or still lies at the foundation. These questions of David were suggested by a correct estimate of the circumstances, namely, that Saul's suspicions would leave him to the conclusion that there was some understanding between Jonathan and David, and that he would take steps in consequence to prevent Jonathan from making David acquainted with the result of his conversation with Saul.
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