David’s love for Jonathan

The ‘love’ relationship between David and Jonathan features strongly in defence of the LGBT lifestyle.  We want to look what the specific Hebrew word for ‘love’ between the two men, means.

1 Samuel 18:1 says, ‘Jonathan ‘loved’ David.  2 Samuel 1:26 says David ‘loved’ Jonathan.   The word ‘love’ in both verses is ‘âhab.’  It can mean love, desire, delight, like, be fond of, covet, et cetera. 1   According to the LGBTs it is therefore obvious that it means they were in a homosexual love relationship.  Let’s investigate how the Old Testament uses the word.

Scripture uses the word ‘âhab’ in: 

  • Deuteronomy 6:5, ‘Love the Lord your God…..’
  • Deuteronomy 4:37, ‘Because He [God] loved your forefathers….’.
  • Leviticus 19:18, ‘…love your neighbour as yourself.’
  • Deuteronomy 10:19, ‘…love those who are aliens.’ 
  • Ruth 4:15, ‘[Ruth] your daughter-in-law who loves you [Naomi].…’
  • 1 Samuel 18:1, ‘Jonathan…loved him [David]….’
  • 1 Kings 5:1, ‘…for Hiram was ever a lover (‘âhab’) of David (King James).’  The NIV translates it, ‘…he had been on friendly terms with David.’

The word ‘âhab’ appears around 250 times in the Old Testament.  It often describes God’s unparalleled love and tender mercies in the covenant relationship He had with His people. 2 Scripture uses it to command the Israelites to love God, their neighbours and aliens.   The same Hebrew word denotes the love of David and Jonathan, or Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi.

‘yâda’ or ‘shâkab’

The Hebrew words ‘yâda’ or ‘shâkab’ denote ‘to know sexually’ or to lie down with (for intercourse).  The inspired writers would have used the correct word if David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship.  In 2 Timothy 3:16 it says Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  He would have let the writer use the correct word.


The word ‘âhab’ (‘love’) in the Hebrew Old Testament has to be applied consistently.  To deny it in one case, because of preconceived ideas, but not in other places, is a sign of selective use of Scripture.  There is no Scriptural evidence that David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship.


  1. S Zodhiates, The Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, Baker Book House, 1984, p 1575, 1576
  2. ibid, p 1575
  3. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

6 thoughts on “David’s love for Jonathan”

  1. The author or authors of the chapter describing David and Jonathan’s relationship are rather careful to use ambiguous language. I seriously doubt that, had the authors certain knowledge that the King of Israel was gay, they would have used explicit language to describe his relationship with his lover.

    I appreciate your efforts to bring in the Hebrew language into the discussion. And I understand your desire for things to be black and white, gay or straight, ‘yada’ or ‘ahav’. However, here, as usual, things are not that simple. First of all, there are more verbs used in the Bible to describe relationships – ‘yada’, ‘shakhav’, ‘ba’, ‘ahav’ and so on. Also, ‘ahav’ is used in the Bible in many contexts. So, in “The Significance of the Verb Love in the David-Jonathan Narratives in 1 Samuel”, J. A. Thompson makes a case for a political interpretation of the verb.

    The Bible is full of commandments and laws which are, by today’s standards, rather odd to say the least. I would expect those who insist on literal interpretation of the Bible where it discusses issues such as homosexuality, to be consistent in their literal interpretation and demand allowing slave trade, death penalty for wearing cloths woven of a wool and cotton mixture and so on. Goes without saying that the call for slave trade is rarely heard (which is a good thing).

    It is therefore not necessary, and outright dangerous to treat ancient texts as literal instruction for modern life. The cruelties of Daesh in Syria and Iraq clearly demonstrate where this path leads to.

    Finally, I recall the phrase attributed to Jesus: “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s”. As far as I know, the LGBT community wants equal civil rights. The way I see it, its clearly in Caesar’s domain. As you are free to pursue your Christian lifestyle, so should other people be free to pursue theirs. How they resolve it with their faith is between them and their god(s).


    1. Let us assume that David and Jonathan had a homosexual relationship. According to Scripture David had at least 18 wives. That is a ratio of 1male to 18 females. If that is the homosexual standard, then David’s relationship with Jonathan is fine. Of course it depends if we have evidence that it is the ‘standard’ for homosexual men.

      The Old Testament covenant was between God and the Israelites. That covenant was replaced by the new covenant in the Blood of Jesus. There is no person living today who still has the first blood covenant with God (the Jews don’t have a Temple in Jerusalem and don’t sacrifice animals). God gave us the Old Testament to prove that humans cannot keep His standards. We need Jesus. Anybody who claims we have to keep slaves, and keep all the Old Testament covenant stipulations, displays a complete lack of understanding of Scripture.

      We wrote about the LGBT group. You asked questions, which we try to answer as clearly as we can with the help of the Holy Spirit. If the answers are not acceptable to you, it is fine, but don’t accuse us of judging. If we did it, please show us where, and we will apologise.



      1. Right here. You take it upon yourself judge what standard is acceptable for a relationship. Whether a man has a relationship with 18 women or with another man it is up to them to decide, not you or me. If God has an issue with the nature of their relationship, it is surely a matter between God and them.

        Personally, I find your view of God’s purpose in providing the Tanakh a bit odd. I don’t think that a caring, loving, attentive Creator would give a holy scripture to prove humans are substandard. That’s an act of bullying, not fit of the God most believers think of (regardless of what they call their faith).

        I would be curious to know how you decide which “Old Testament” stipulations are worth keeping and which ones are OK to disregard. Hopefully you have a method which can be universally applied, and would like to share it, so that others can use it too.

        Most Jews nowadays (including myself) think of the Temple in Jerusalem as an abstract, spiritual concept, not some “worshiping factory”. The rebuilding of the Temple and of Jerusalem have for the past 2500 years been a metaphor, reflecting the Jewish desire for self-determination. Anybody who claims that Jews need to sacrifice animals to keep their covenant with God displays a complete lack of understand of the basic concepts of the Jewish faith.


    1. I think the Jews are entitled to think of the Temple the way they want. You may think of it the way you like – that’s one of the joys of living in a free society (as is sharing your life with the partner of your choice).

      A temple is a physical entity. Faith, spirituality – they are in the thoughts and hearts, not dependent on matter. I am not sure of the Christian view on this, but I suspect most Christians would say that its more about the spirit than about the temples. Blessings.


  2. Thank you, Michael, for your comment. We enjoyed your interest. As you say, each person has a free will to choose and decide what he wants to believe and how he wants to live. Each choice comes wrapped in a parcel of consequences. That is why careful consideration is the name of the game. Good luck and may you bear good fruit for eternity.


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