The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Book of Kings
Chapter 20
David meanwhile escaped from the Naioth at Ramatha, and came back to have speech with Jonathan. What is it I have done? he asked. For what wrong, what fault of mine does thy father threaten my life?
Nay, said he, never that; thy life is safe enough. My father does nothing, of much moment or of little, without telling me first; why should he have kept this one design dark? It cannot be.
And once again he swore friendship. But David said, Thy father knows well enough what favour I enjoy with thee, and he thinks to himself, Jonathan must not know; this were great grief to him. But, as the Lord is a living God, and thy soul a living soul, there is but a step between me and death.
Then, said Jonathan, make known thy will, and I will perform it.
Tomorrow, David answered, is the first day of the month, and custom will have it that I should sit next to the king at table. Bear with me if I hide in the open fields, instead, till that day and the next are over;
and if thy father looks about him and misses me, tell him that David asked leave of thee to go home on a sudden to Bethlehem, where all his clan are holding their yearly sacrifice.
If he is content, all is well with me; if he falls into a rage, be sure that he is bent on doing me harm.
I am thy servant, and thou hast made me swear a covenant of friendship with thee before the Lord; do me, then, this kindness. And if I am guilty of any fault, do thou thyself slay me, without seeking to reconcile me with thy father.
God forbid! said Jonathan. If I find out that my father is bent on doing thee harm, nothing shall prevent me from telling thee of it.

And now, said David, if thy father gives thee a rough answer, who is to bring me news of it?
Come out with me, said Jonathan; let us walk together in the open fields. And when they were together in the open,
he said to David, Let the Lord God of Israel be my witness, if I sound my father to-morrow or next day, and hear good news of David, I will send a messenger to give thee the news;
if not, may the Lord punish Jonathan as he deserves, and more than he deserves! But if my father is still bent on thy harm, then I myself will bring it to thy ear, and send thee on thy way unharmed; and the Lord be with thee, as he was once with my father.
While I live, shew me friendship in the Lord’s name, and when I die,
let time never diminish thy friendship for my race. May the Lord, as he roots out David’s enemies, one by one, from the land that knew them, leave out Jonathan’s name from the list of his kindred; only on David’s enemies let his vengeance fall!
Thus did Jonathan make a covenant with the line of David, and the Lord’s vengeance fell only on David’s enemies.
And Jonathan swore a fresh oath to David, so dearly he loved him, dearly as his own life.

Then Jonathan said, Since it is the first day of the month to-morrow, thou wilt be missed;
thy place will be empty then and the day after. Make quickly, then, for the valley, and hide thyself; thou must needs be in hiding that third day, when men can go about their work again. Wait, then, near the rock called Ezel;
and I will come and shoot three arrows close to it, letting fly as if I were shooting at a mark.
Then I will send a servant after them, bidding him go and fetch my arrows.
If I tell him the arrows are on the near side of him, he has only to go and pick them up, then do thou come out to me; it means, as the Lord is a living God, that all is well and no harm is meant thee. If I tell him the arrows are beyond him, then depart, and peace be with thee; the Lord will have thee go.
And as for the promises we have exchanged, may the Lord be arbiter for ever between me and thee.

So David went and hid, out in the fields, and the new month came, and the king sat down to meat.
He sat, as was his wont, on a seat close to the wall; Jonathan was standing there, and Abner took his place next to Saul, but David’s was seen to be empty.
That day, Saul said nothing of it; perhaps David had incurred some defilement, and had not yet been cleansed.
But when the next day dawned after the new moon, and David’s place was empty still, Saul asked Jonathan why the son of Jesse had not sat down to meat that day or the day before.
He urged me, answered Jonathan, to let him go to Bethlehem.
Pray give me leave, said he; a yearly sacrifice is being offered in the city, and one of my brothers has summoned me there. Do me the favour, then, to let me go with all speed and visit my brethren.
At this, Saul fell into a rage with Jonathan; What, cried he, thou son of a lecherous wife, dost thou think I have not marked how thou lovest this son of Jesse, to thy own undoing and hers, the shameful mother that bore thee?
Never, while the son of Jesse is left alive on earth, will thy right to the throne be established. Send and bring him to me, here and now; he is a dead man.
And why must he die? Jonathan asked of his father. What wrong has he done?
Thereupon Saul caught up a lance as if to kill him; and Jonathan saw his father was determined upon David’s death;
so he rose from table in hot anger, and that second day of the month no food crossed his lips, so grieved was he, for David’s sake, by his father’s insults.

When day dawned, Jonathan went afield to keep his tryst with David, taking with him a boy that was his servant.
Go and pick up the arrows I shoot, he told him, and bring them back to me. Then, as the boy ran for the first, he shot a second arrow beyond him;
and when he reached the place where the first fell, Jonathan cried out after him, There is an arrow there beyond thee.
And now he called out after him, Make haste, do not linger where thou art. So the boy gathered up Jonathan’s arrows, and brought them to his master;
but of the business that was toward, he knew nothing; only Jonathan and David knew that.
And now Jonathan handed the boy his weapons, and said, Take them back with thee to the city.

When the servant had gone, David rose up from his hiding-place, that gave upon the south country; he bowed his face to the earth, and three times did reverence, and then they kissed one another and wept together; there was no staunching David’s tears.
Go, said Jonathan, and peace go with thee. That, and the oath we have sworn in the Lord’s name, making him the arbiter between me and thee, between my posterity and thine, for ever!
So David set out on his journey, and Jonathan made his way back to the city.