In 1 Samuel 20:35–42 The next morning Jonathan fulfilled his commitment to David by conveying the unhoped-for news. Taking his bow, some arrows, and a “young servant with him” (1 Samuel 20:35), he went out to the rendezvous point and initiated the agreed-upon plan. Jonathan sent the servant running into the field and then “shot an arrow beyond him” (1 Samuel 20:36) to establish an appropriate context for uttering the code words. When the boy, now some distance away, stopped to pick up the arrow, Jonathan pretended to misinterpret the boy’s actions and thus shouted out the signal to flee. So as to remove all doubt, he also added a series of three commands with unmistakable significance for David: “Hurry! Go quickly! Don’t stop!” (1 Samuel 20:38). Jonathan then brought the target practice to an abrupt end, sending the servant and his weapons “back to town” (1 Samuel 20:40).
In the solitude of the empty field, David and Jonathan met together face-to-face. Expressions of respect and mutual commitment marked their encounter. In the gravity of the moment David initially spoke no words. Instead, he silently displayed subservience and utmost respect for his friend by bowing before Jonathan three times—the greatest number of times anyone in the Bible is depicted as performing this act is once.
Jonathan responded to David as a respected peer—he kissed him (2 Samuel 14:33). In this case kisses were exchanged because they also functioned as expressions of farewell (Genesis 31:55; Acts 20:37). The grief and emotion of the moment is evident in the fact that they also “wept together.” The observation “David wept the most” emphasizes David’s loyalty and commitment to his friend, the heir-apparent.
Jonathan seemed to understand that this encounter would be there last time to see one another. Never again would these two best friends enjoy an easy, informal camaraderie. In his final moments with David he urged him to “go in peace.” “Go in peace” is an expression of goodwill used elsewhere in the Old Testament in situations involving extended or permanent separations. Though David and Jonathan would be physically separated from one another, they would remain inseparably joined by the oath they swore in the Lord’s name (1 Samuel 20:42). Furthermore, their commitment would be intergenerational, continuing between their “descendants forever.” Having affirmed that commitment, the two friends left each others’ presence for the next-to-last time.