“May Jehovah be between you and me and between your offspring and my offspring forever.”
SONGS: 125, 62
1, 2. Why is Jonathan’s friendship with David a remarkable example of loyalty?
JONATHAN must have been amazed at how courageous young David was. David had killed the giant Goliath and brought “the head of the Philistine” to Jonathan’s father, King Saul of Israel. (1 Samuel 17:57) Jonathan had no doubt that God was with David, and from then on, Jonathan and David became very close friends. They promised that they would always be loyal to each other. (1 Samuel 18:1-3) For the rest of his life, Jonathan was loyal to David.
2 Jonathan stayed loyal to David even though Jehovah had chosen David, not Jonathan, to be the next king of Israel. And when Saul was trying to kill David, Jonathan was worried about his friend. He knew that David was in the wilderness at Horesh, so Jonathan went there to encourage him to keep relying on Jehovah. Jonathan told David: “Do not be afraid, for my father Saul will not find you; you will be king over Israel, and I will become second to you.”
3. What was more important to Jonathan than being loyal to David, and how do we know? (See opening picture.)
3 We usually admire people who are loyal. But do we admire Jonathan only because he was loyal to David? No, being loyal to God was the most important thing in Jonathan’s life. In fact, that is the reason why he was loyal to David and was not jealous of him, although David would become king instead of him. Jonathan even helped David to rely on Jehovah. Both men stayed loyal to Jehovah and to each other. They kept the promise they had made: “May Jehovah be between you and me and between your offspring and my offspring forever.”
4. (a) What will make us truly happy and satisfied? (b) What will we consider in this article?
4 We too must be loyal to our family, our friends, and our brothers and sisters in the congregation. (1 Thessalonians 2:10, 11) But most important of all, we must be loyal to Jehovah. He is the One who gave us life! (Revelation 4:11) When we are loyal to him, we are truly happy and satisfied. But we know that we must be loyal to God even in difficult times. In this article, we will discuss how Jonathan’s example can help us to stay loyal to Jehovah in four situations: (1) when we feel that someone who has authority does not deserve our respect, (2) when we have to choose to whom we should be loyal, (3) when a brother taking the lead misunderstands us or treats us unfairly, and (4) when we feel it is difficult to keep a promise.
WHEN WE FEEL THAT SOMEONE WHO HAS AUTHORITY DOES NOT DESERVE OUR RESPECT
5. Why was it difficult for the people of Israel to be loyal to God while Saul was king?
5 Jonathan and the people of Israel were in a difficult situation. King Saul, Jonathan’s father, had become disobedient, and Jehovah rejected him. (1 Samuel 15:17-23) Still, God allowed Saul to continue ruling for many years. So it was hard for the people to be loyal to God when the king who was chosen to sit on “Jehovah’s throne” was doing very bad things.
6. What shows that Jonathan stayed loyal to Jehovah?
6 Jonathan stayed loyal to Jehovah. Think of what Jonathan did soon after Saul started to disobey God. (1 Samuel 13:13, 14) At that time, a large army of Philistines came with 30,000 chariots to attack Israel. Saul had just 600 soldiers, and only he and Jonathan had weapons. But Jonathan was not afraid. He remembered the words of the prophet Samuel: “For the sake of his great name, Jehovah will not abandon his people.” (1 Samuel 12:22) Jonathan said to another soldier: “Nothing can hinder Jehovah from saving by many or by few.” So he and the soldier attacked a group of Philistines and killed about 20 of them. Jonathan had faith in Jehovah, and Jehovah blessed him. Jehovah caused an earthquake, and the Philistines became frightened. Then they attacked and killed one another, and the Israelites won the battle.
7. How did Jonathan treat his father?
7 Even though Saul continued to disobey Jehovah, Jonathan still obeyed his father whenever possible. For example, they fought together to defend Jehovah’s people.
8, 9. How are we being loyal to God when we respect those who have authority?
8 Like Jonathan, we can be loyal to Jehovah by obeying whenever possible the government of the country where we live. Jehovah allows these “superior authorities” to have authority over us, and he requires that we show them respect. (Read Romans 13:1, 2.) That is why we should treat a government official with respect even when he is not honest and we feel he does not deserve our respect. In fact, we should respect all those who are given authority by Jehovah.
9 Olga, a sister in South America, showed her loyalty to Jehovah by being respectful to her husband even though he treated her badly.  (See endnote.) He sometimes refused to speak to her or said cruel things to her because she was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He even told her that he would leave her and take the children with him. But Olga did not “return evil for evil.” She did her best to be a good wife. She cooked for him, washed his clothes, and took care of others in his family. (Romans 12:17) And when she could, she went with him to visit his family and friends. For example, when he wanted to go to another city for his father’s funeral, she prepared everything they needed for the trip. Then, at the funeral, she waited for him outside the church. After many years, Olga’s husband started to treat her better because she had been so patient and always showed him respect. Now he encourages her to go to the meetings and takes her there. Sometimes he even attends the meetings with her.
WHEN WE HAVE TO DECIDE TO WHOM WE SHOULD BE LOYAL
10. How did Jonathan know to whom he should be loyal?
10 When Saul said that he was going to kill David, Jonathan had a difficult decision to make. He wanted to be loyal to his father, but he also wanted to be loyal to David. Jonathan knew that God was with David and not with Saul, so he chose to be loyal to David. He warned David to hide and then told Saul why he should let David live.
11, 12. How does our love for God help us decide to be loyal to him?
11 Alice, a sister from Australia, had to decide to whom she would be loyal. While she was studying the Bible, she told her family about the things she was learning. She also told them that she would not celebrate Christmas with them and explained why. At first her family members were disappointed, but later they became very angry with her. They felt that Alice did not care about them anymore. Then her mother said that she never wanted to see Alice again. Alice said: “I was shocked and deeply hurt because I really loved my family. Nevertheless, I resolved that Jehovah and his Son would be first in my heart, and I got baptized at the next assembly.”
12 We must not let loyalty to anything, such as a sports team, a school, or a country, become more important to us than our loyalty to Jehovah. For example, Henry enjoyed playing chess with his school team and wanted to win a championship for his school. But because he played chess every weekend, he did not have enough time for the ministry or the meetings. Henry said that it had become more important for him to be loyal to the school than to God. So he decided to stop playing chess for his school.
13. How can loyalty to God help us to cope with family problems?
13 Sometimes it can be hard to be loyal to different members of our family at the same time. For example, Ken says: “I wanted to visit my elderly mother regularly and to have her stay with us occasionally. But my mother and my wife did not get along well.” He continues: “I could not please one without displeasing the other.” Ken thought about what the Bible says and realized that in this situation, he had to please his wife and be loyal to her. So he found a solution that his wife was happy with. Then, he explained to her why she had to be kind to his mother. He also explained to his mother why she should respect his wife.
WHEN A BROTHER MISUNDERSTANDS US OR TREATS US UNFAIRLY
14. How did Saul treat Jonathan unfairly?
14 We can also be loyal to Jehovah if a brother who is taking the lead treats us unfairly. King Saul was appointed by God, yet he treated his own son badly. He did not understand why Jonathan loved David. So when Jonathan tried to help David, Saul got very angry, and he embarrassed his son in front of many people. But Jonathan still showed respect to his father. At the same time, he stayed loyal to Jehovah and to David, who was chosen by God to be the next king of Israel.
15. If a brother treats us unfairly, how should we react?
15 In our congregations today, the brothers taking the lead try to be fair to everyone. But these brothers are imperfect. Because of that, it is possible that they may not understand why we have done something. (1 Samuel 1:13-17) So if we are ever misjudged or misunderstood, let us stay loyal to Jehovah.
WHEN IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO KEEP OUR PROMISE
16. In what situations must we be loyal to God and not be selfish?
16 Saul wanted Jonathan to become the next king instead of David. (1 Samuel 20:31) But Jonathan loved Jehovah and was loyal to him. So instead of being selfish, Jonathan became David’s friend and kept his promise to him. In fact, anyone who loves Jehovah and is loyal to him will “not go back on his promise, even when it is bad for him.” (Psalm 15:4) Because we are loyal to God, we will keep our promises. For example, if we make a business agreement, we will do what we agreed to do, even if this becomes difficult. And if we have problems in our marriage, we will show our love for Jehovah by staying loyal to our husband or wife.
17. How has this study helped you?
17 We want to be loyal to God even in difficult situations, as Jonathan was. So let us stay loyal to our brothers and sisters when they disappoint us. Then we will make Jehovah’s heart rejoice, and that is what makes us happiest. (Proverbs 27:11) We can be sure that he will always do what is best for us and take care of us. In the next article, we will see what we can learn from some in David’s time who were loyal and from others who were not loyal.
^  (paragraph 9) Some names have been changed.