United Under a Banner of Love
“Above all things, have intense love for one another.”—1 PETER 4:8.
1. What kind of love do we see among God’s people today, and what have anointed Christians been proclaiming since 1922?
DO WE see that kind of love among God’s people today? Certainly we do! This is a love that centers around recognition and support of Jehovah’s sovereignty, even as David supported it. Notably since the year 1922, anointed brothers of Jesus Christ, “the Son of David,” have been proclaiming earth wide that God’s Kingdom is at hand and that the champions of Satan’s oppressive rule face execution by God’s appointed Judge, Jesus Christ.—Matthew 21:15, 42-44; Revelation 19:11, 19-21.
2. Why could David be called ‘a man agreeable to Jehovah’s heart’?
2 David was ‘a man agreeable to Jehovah’s heart.’ This was apparent in his love for Jehovah and His righteousness—traits that even cowardly King Saul acknowledged were in David—yes, in his qualities of fearlessness, wholehearted devotion to Jehovah, leadership, and humble submission to theocratic order.—1 Samuel 13:14; 16:7, 11-13; 17:33-36; 24:9, 10, 17.
3. What was Jonathan’s attitude toward David, and why?
3 Following his triumph over Goliath, David reported back to Saul. It was then that another lover of righteousness came forward. He was Jonathan, eldest son of King Saul. “It came about that, as soon as [David] had finished speaking to Saul, Jonathan’s very soul became bound up with the soul of David, and Jonathan began to love him as his own soul.” (1 Samuel 18:1) Rather than fleshly valor and expertise with the sling, it was David’s burning zeal to clear God’s name of reproach, his selflessness, and his implicit reliance on Jehovah that won Jonathan’s heartfelt admiration.—Compare Psalm 8:1, 9; 9:1, 2.
4. What did Jonathan do in recognition of David’s being the one anointed to be king?
4 Though Jonathan was some 30 years older than David, he became united with this young warrior in a lasting bond of friendship. “And Jonathan and David proceeded to conclude a covenant, because of his loving him as his own soul. Further, Jonathan stripped himself of the sleeveless coat that was on him and gave it to David, and also his garments, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Samuel 18:3, 4) What an outstanding display of recognition on Jonathan’s part! Jonathan would normally have been Saul’s heir. Yet he expressed a warm, principled love for David and submission to him as the one anointed to be king, the one preeminently intent on upholding Jehovah’s name and sovereignty.—2 Samuel 7:18-24; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13.
5. What did Jonathan recognize when it came to theocratic warfare?
5 Jonathan himself was also a fighter for righteousness. He had declared that “there is no hindrance to Jehovah to save by many or by few.” Why? Because Jonathan recognized that there is always a need to seek divine guidance for victory in theocratic warfare. When Jonathan unwittingly committed an offense for which Saul sentenced him to death, he humbly accepted that judgment. Happily, the people redeemed him.—1 Samuel 14:6, 9, 10, 24, 27, 43-45.
Expressing Loyal Love
6. How did Jonathan’s loyal love come to David’s rescue?
6 Saul became jealous of David’s fame as a warrior and sought to kill him, but Jonathan’s loyal love came to the rescue! The account reads: “As for Jonathan, Saul’s son, he took great delight in David. So Jonathan told David, saying: ‘Saul my father is seeking to have you put to death. And now be on your guard, please, in the morning, and you must dwell in secrecy and keep yourself hidden.’” On that occasion, Jonathan placated Saul, so that David was spared. But David’s further successes in “fighting against the Philistines and striking them down with a great slaughter” reawakened Saul’s animosity. Again he determined to kill David, so that David fled.—1 Samuel 19:2-10.
7. When Jonathan met the fugitive David, what did they say to each other in reaffirming a covenant?
7 In time, the fugitive David again met up with Jonathan, who declared: “Whatever your soul may say I shall do for you.” The two reaffirmed a covenant before Jehovah, and David promised that he would never cut off loving-kindness from Jonathan’s household—a promise that he faithfully kept. “So Jonathan swore again to David because of his love for him; for as he loved his own soul he loved him.”—1 Samuel 20:4-17; 2 Samuel 21:7.
8. Why did Jonathan and David meet secretly in a field, and what took place on that occasion?
8 King Saul became adamant in his resolve to kill David. Why, Saul even hurled a spear at his own son Jonathan when this one spoke up in behalf of David! So Jonathan met David secretly in a field. “As for David, . . . he fell on his face to the earth and bowed three times; and they began kissing each other and weeping for each other, until David had done it the most. And Jonathan went on to say to David: ‘Go in peace, since we have sworn, both of us, in the name of Jehovah, saying, “May Jehovah himself prove to be between me and you and between my offspring and your offspring to time indefinite.”’” So they parted, and David became a fugitive in the wilderness of Ziph.—1 Samuel 20:41, 42.
9, 10. (a) How did Jonathan further encourage David at what was probably the last meeting between the two? (b) When Jonathan and Saul were slain by the Philistines, what dirge did David compose, and how did he climax it?
9 Lovingly, Jonathan continued to encourage David. As the record states: “Jonathan the son of Saul now rose up and went to David at Horesh, that he might strengthen his hand in regard to God. And he went on to say to him: ‘Do not be afraid; for the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you yourself will be king over Israel, and I myself shall become second to you; and Saul my father also has knowledge to that effect.’ Then the two of them concluded a covenant before Jehovah.”—1 Samuel 23:15-18.
10 Apparently, that was the last meeting between David and his loyal companion Jonathan. Later, when both Jonathan and Saul were slain in battle with the Philistines, David composed a dirge, “The Bow.” In it he expressed respect for Saul as Jehovah’s anointed but climaxed his song with the words: “Jonathan slain upon your high places! I am distressed over you, my brother Jonathan, very pleasant you were to me. More wonderful was your love to me than the love from women. How have the mighty ones fallen and the weapons of war perished!” (2 Samuel 1:18, 21, 25-27) David was then anointed for the second time, as king over Judah.
11, 12. (a) What kind of love did David and Jonathan exemplify? (b) What did the intense love between David and Jonathan foreshadow?
11 Since “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching,” what do we learn from the account about David and Jonathan? (2 Timothy 3:16) We note that there is a love “more wonderful . . . than the love from women.” True, “the love from women” can be pleasant and fulfilling when Jehovah’s laws concerning marriage are honored. (Matthew 19:6, 9; Hebrews 13:4) But David and Jonathan exemplified a finer aspect of love, in line with the commandment: “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah. And you must love Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your vital force.”—Deuteronomy 6:4, 5.
12 David and Jonathan were united in expressing that love as they fought to clear Jehovah’s name of all the reproach that His enemies cast upon it. In doing this, they also cultivated ‘intense love for each other.’ (1 Peter 4:8) The companionship that they enjoyed in this respect went even beyond the command at Leviticus 19:18: “You must love your fellow as yourself.” Indeed, it foreshadowed the kind of love indicated in Jesus’ “new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Jesus’ love was self-sacrificing not only in his complete submission to Jehovah’s will but also in his willingness even to “surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.”—John 13:34; 15:13.
One United “Flock”
13. What group of Kingdom proclaimers has appeared on the scene particularly from 1935, and what unity do the anointed Christians have with them?
13 Anointed Christians of the “little flock” have borne the brunt of the battle in contending with the modern-day Goliath. Since 1935, however, they have been joined by Kingdom proclaimers of another and larger “fold.” These “other sheep” have become united with the remaining anointed “sheep” as “one flock” under the “one shepherd,” “the Son of David,” in a superlative bond of loving unity—like that existing between Jonathan and David.—Luke 12:32; John 10:16; Ezekiel 37:24.
14. What paralleled Saul’s attempts to kill David, and Jonathan’s lovingly identifying himself with David?
14 Even as this Jonathan group was beginning to multiply into a great crowd, World War II burst forth, so that both the anointed and their companions were severely tested. Those were years of vicious persecution, often instigated by the clergy. This paralleled Saul’s attempts to slay the anointed David and, later, Jonathan when the latter lovingly identified himself with David. What intense love the David and Jonathan classes showed toward each other during that period! Jesus’ illustration at Matthew 25:35-40 often had a literal fulfillment.a
15. (a) What course taken by the Witnesses contrasts with that taken by the modern Saul class? (b) What in our day may parallel the “bad spirit from Jehovah” that terrorized King Saul?
15 How the integrity keeping of Jehovah’s Witnesses contrasts with the course of the modern Saul class! The Witnesses, who are “no part of the world,” have obeyed Jesus’ command to “love one another” on a global scale. (John 15:17-19) On the other hand, in the two world wars Christendom’s clergy on both sides prayed to their “god” for victory, while millions of soldiers were being slaughtered by their fellow religionists of other nations. The “bad spirit from Jehovah” that terrorized Saul may well correspond to the result of the angels’ pouring out the plagues of Revelation chapter 8. It is evident that the clergy of Christendom do not have Jehovah’s holy spirit.—1 Samuel 16:14; 18:10-12; 19:10; 20:32-34.
16. (a) How did the clergy use two world wars to oppress Jehovah’s people? (b) In recent years, why can it be said that a modern-day Saul has persisted in hounding God’s people?
16 In 1918 the clergy used the war crisis to persuade the political powers in the United States to take action against the responsible officers of the Watch Tower Society and finally imprison them. (These Bible students were later completely exonerated.) During the second world war, Jehovah’s Witnesses were banned in the domain of the Axis powers and in most British Commonwealth countries, often as a result of religious pressure. For example, note the above facsimile of a letter written by the Archbishop of Sydney (later a cardinal) just prior to the banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia. When the ban was contested in the High Court of Australia, the trial judge, Mr. Justice Starke, described it as “arbitrary, capricious and oppressive.” The ban was removed on June 14, 1943, and the government was assessed damages. In more recent years, religious pressure on a number of governments in Africa and Asia has resulted in ruthless oppression of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Thus a modern-day Saul—the clergy of Christendom—has persisted in hounding God’s people.
17. (a) How have Jehovah’s Witnesses faced up to the continuing politico-religious pressures? (b) What is demonstrated by the worldwide unitedness of the Witnesses?
17 During the 1980’s, how have Jehovah’s Witnesses faced up to continuing politico-religious pressures? Why, just as David faced up to Goliath, and David and Jonathan to King Saul! They are fearless and determined to keep integrity with regard to the issue of sovereignty, for they know that God’s Kingdom will triumph. (Daniel 2:44) In the face of persecution, they present a united front, encouraging one another in an international bond of love such as the world has never before seen. As neutrals in time of war, they do not shed the blood of their fellow believers in other nations. (Micah 4:3, 5) Thus they demonstrate that they are the group that Jesus referred to when he said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35) As a global brotherhood, Jehovah’s Witnesses have ‘clothed themselves with love, the perfect bond of union,’ a bond that transcends all racial, tribal, and national barriers.—Colossians 3:14.
Showing “Intense Love”
18. (a) What parallel is there today in Jonathan’s love for David, and how is this evidenced? (b) What has resulted worldwide from the uncompromising stand of the David class?
18 Recall that “Jonathan’s very soul became bound up with the soul of David, and Jonathan began to love him as his own soul.” What a remarkable parallel there has been in these “last days”! (2 Timothy 3:1, 14) Throughout the senseless turmoil of this violent age, there has been one group, Jehovah’s Witnesses, that has maintained a loving global unity. As Christian neutrals, they have honored their Creator as Sovereign Lord of all mankind. (Psalm 100:3) Oh, the modern-day Rephaim—political kinsmen of “Goliath”—may keep taunting spiritual Israel. (2 Samuel 21:21, 22) And the modern-day Saul—Christendom’s clergy—may continue to make trouble for the David and Jonathan classes. (1 Samuel 20:32, 33) But “to Jehovah belongs the battle.” As Sovereign Lord, he will gain the final victory for his loyal servants. Observing the uncompromising stand of the David class, millions—in all lands—of the Jonathan group, even including former persecutors, have joined them under Christ’s ‘banner of love.’b—1 Samuel 17:47; Song of Solomon 2:4.
19, 20. (a) What are some of the highlights of the activity of the Witnesses as indicated by the chart on pages 4-7? (b) What was the growth rate of the Witnesses during the decade of 1979-88? (c) Why can it be said that the Witnesses are a people truly united worldwide, and what question therefore arises?
19 You can review the expanding activity of these millions of Witnesses by consulting the chart on pages 4-7 of this magazine. During the decade of 1979-88, the number of preachers of the good news of God’s established Kingdom has increased from 2,186,075 to 3,592,654, a 64.3-percent growth. Worldwide, these are a people truly united in sharing one common belief, one common service to God, and one consistent devotion to the moral principles of the Bible. It is to this close-knit international group that Jesus’ words apply today: “If you observe my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have observed the commandments of the Father and remain in his love.”—John 15:10; compare 1 Corinthians 1:10.
20 Though they preach in upwards of 200 different tongues, these witnesses of Jehovah speak the “pure language” of truth as they serve God “shoulder to shoulder.” In this, they imitate the loving example of David and Jonathan. (Zephaniah 3:9; 1 Samuel 20:17; Proverbs 18:24) If you are not already united with God’s people, would you not like to be part of the modern-day Jonathan class? You can make that your goal, and Jehovah’s Witnesses will show intense love in helping you to reach it.
a A fine example of this is related in the 1972 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, from page 216, paragraph 3, to page 217, paragraph 3.
Questions for Review
◻ How did Jonathan express loyal love for David?
◻ What kind of love was foreshadowed by the love between David and Jonathan?
◻ How have Christendom’s clergy acted like King Saul when he hounded David?
◻ What today is comparable to Jonathan’s love for David?
◻ What does the unitedness of the Witnesses worldwide demonstrate?
[Box on page 27]
St. Mary’s Cathedral
August 20, 1940.
The Rt. Hon. W. M. Hughes, M.H.R.,K.C.,
Dear Mr. Hughes:
I am grateful to you for your letter of the 9th inst. regarding representations made to you by Mr. Jennings, M.P.
It is, of course, appreciated that the greatest possible care must be exercised by you in such a delicate matter as that regarding which the representations were made.
If, however, the only doubt you have arises from the fact that these people profess to be spreading the doctrines of Christianity, I would most respectfully suggest that your judgment of their doing this be based, not on their profession, but on facts. For facts, I submit their own publications and their own words and deeds, attested by the Police of New South Wales. Anything more contrary to Christianity, it would be difficult to imagine.
The Commissioner of Police in N.S.W. has expressed his hope that the Commonwealth authorities will declare the society in question an illegal body so that Police may be in a position to take more effective action with respect to it.
I should like to renew here to yourself personally the expression of sympathy I already transmitted to the Prime Minister on the occasion of last week’s dreadful air tragedy. It must have been a frightful blow to lose three colleagues simultaneously in such tragic circumstances.
With every good wish, I remain,
ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY