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Son of Saul, who was King of Israel. He is distinguished in biblical history for his unselfish, loyal friendship for David. Ironically, when the latter ultimately succeeded Saul to the throne, he was receiving what normally would have gone to Jonathan (II Samuel 5:4-5). While Saul was alive, he was so envious of David's military victories and popularity with the people that he tried repeatedly to have him killed. He sent him into battles, hoping that David would not survive (I Samuel 18:25). He attacked David himself with a spear. Yet he never succeeded ( Samuel 19:10). In all these attempts, Jonathan was caught between his father's hatred and his devoted friendship. He never wavered, however, in protecting David and warning him of Saul's schemes (I Samuel 20). Finally, the king died in the battle of Gilboa; Jonathan and his brothers were killed also (I Samuel 31:6). David paid tribute to both Saul and Jonathan, but his grief was greater for a supremely faithful friend: "Oh, Jonathan, in your death I am stricken. I am desolate for you, Jonathan, my brother . . ." (II Samuel 1:26). It was tribute richly deserved.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.