We know from 1 Samuel  18:1 that Jonathan loved David. Second  Samuel 1:26 records David’s lament after Jonathan’s death, in which he said  that his love for Jonathan was more wonderful than the love of a woman. Some use  these two passages to suggest a homosexual relationship between David and  Jonathan. This interpretation, however, should be rejected for at least three  reasons.

First, the Hebrew word for “love” used here is not the typical  word used for sexual activity. This word for “love” has clear political and  diplomatic connotations (see 1 Samuel  16:21 and 1 Kings  5:1). Second, David’s comparison of his relationship with Jonathan with that  of women is probably a reference to his experience with King Saul’s daughter. He  was promised one of Saul’s daughters for killing Goliath. But Saul continued to  add conditions upon this marriage with the underlying desire to have David  killed in battle (1 Samuel  18:17, 25). The  love David had received from Jonathan was greater than anything he could have  received from Saul’s daughter. Third, the Bible clearly and consistently  denounces homosexuality (Genesis  1:26-27; Leviticus  18:22; 20:13Romans  1:18-25). Extolling a homosexual love between David and Jonathan would be  contradicting the prohibitions of it found throughout the Bible.

The  friendship between David and Jonathan was a covenantal relationship. In 1 Samuel  18:1-5, we read of David and Jonathan forming an agreement. In this  agreement, Jonathan was to be second in command in David’s future reign, and  David was to protect Jonathan’s family (1 Samuel  20:16-17, 42; 23:16-18).

Obviously, these two men were also  very good friends. In their relationship we can see at least three qualities of  true friendship. First, they sacrificed for one another. In 1 Samuel 18:4, we read  that Jonathan gave David his clothes and military garb. The significance of this  gift was that Jonathan recognized that David would one day be king of Israel.  Rather than being envious or jealous, Jonathan submitted to God’s will and  sacrificed his own right to the throne. Second, in 1 Samuel  19:1-3, we read of Jonathan’s loyalty toward and defense of David. King Saul  told his followers to kill David. Jonathan rebuked his father and recalled  David’s faithfulness to him in killing Goliath. Finally, Jonathan and David were  also free to express their emotions with one another. In 1 Samuel 20, we read of  a plan concocted by Jonathan to reveal his father’s plans toward David. Jonathan  was going to practice his archery. If he told his servant that the arrows he  shot were to the side of the target, David was safe. If Jonathan told his  servant that the arrows were beyond the target, David was to leave and not  return. Jonathan told the servant that the arrows were beyond the target,  meaning that David should flee. After releasing his servant, Jonathan found  David and the two men cried together.

Rather than being evidence for a  homosexual relationship in the Bible, the account of David and Jonathan is an  example of true biblical friendship. True friendship, according to the Bible,  involves loyalty, sacrifice, compromise, and yes, emotional attachment. That is  what we should learn from David and Jonathan. The idea that the only person in  the Bible described as “a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), was a practicing homosexual (or bisexual) is  ridiculous and has no true biblical basis.