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
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