Authored by Mara Hodler (a guest contribution)
One of the Bible characters that I admire the most is Prince Jonathan. I think he’s an amazing example of honor and integrity. Think about it: He had been destined to be the next king of Israel, but David essentially took his birthright when he was anointed by Samuel the prophet as the next king of Israel.
Now, if I were in Jonathan’s position, I think I would have succumbed in one of two ways. I would have become consumed with envy and a deep-seated feeling that I was dealt an unjust hand. Or I would have not given a hoot about the kingdom from then on. You might have heard me say something like, “I don’t know anything about that. Why don’t you ask the heir to the throne, David.” Shameful, I know.
The truth is, I have actually had both those reactions to things far less impactful than losing my place in a monarchy. I know myself and how easy it is to lose sight of what I would regard as my morals when I feel like I have gotten the raw end of a deal.
Lucky for all of us, I’m actually talking about Jonathan at the moment, not me. So, what did he do? While he was a prince, he was the best prince that he could be, right up until the end when he died fighting for his country in a doomed-from-the-start battle. Even while he filled the role of prince, he honored and protected David and repeatedly showed his solidarity to David.
I have wondered exactly what it was that made Jonathan willing to not just accept David as God’s anointed but also embrace David as a friend and brother.1 Maybe Jonathan was just a pretty happy-go-lucky guy who didn’t care much about anything, but in most of the stories found in the Bible about him, it shows evidence to the contrary.
Jonathan had the courage to take on thousands of Philistines with just the help of his armor bearer.2 He confronted his father on quite a few issues and generally played an active role in Saul’s court. Jonathan told David, “Look, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without confiding in me.”3 Most accounts I have read about him show that he was concerned about the welfare of Israel and that he played an active role in his father’s administration.
From my point of view, he didn’t see ruling Israel as a self-serving opportunity. He didn’t care who was king, as long as whoever was ruling was leading the country in God’s ways. He put his full weight behind God’s anointed, simply because he was God’s anointed. That takes integrity—the kind of deep-seated integrity that comes from complete confidence in God’s control.
While Jonathan wasn’t a perfect man (who is?), Saul, by contrast, showed a lack of integrity on many occasions. He repeatedly went against his own word, disobeyed God’s prophet, and was more interested in preserving his reign than he was in leading Israel after God. Saul’s fear of losing his kingdom prompted him to make a slew of wrong decisions that eventually ended up costing him the kingdom and his life.
Now we’ll talk about me. A few years ago, I had some major issues in my workplace. It all came to a head for me when someone who was doing less for the company than I was got the promotion I had pretty much been in line for. I had been working my butt off for the company and honestly felt that I had deserved the promotion. I tried to be gracious, but it frustrated me to no end. My “team spirit” was sorely dampened.
I absolutely hate it when I feel something is unfair. Sometimes I have let myself think that someone else’s unjust attitudes or actions “let me off the hook” for my bad reactions. Or—worse yet—I think that their behavior actually entitles me to have a poor attitude.
There I was stewing in self-pity for a week or so before I finally realized I needed to pray about my situation. Guess who God brought to mind? Yup: Jonathan. God reminded me of Jonathan’s love for David, and how he did not question God’s choice. I believe that Jonathan would have been a good king for Israel, but God chose David, and Jonathan trusted God’s choice.
To be the kind of person that can stand in their God-chosen post even when it doesn’t offer prestige or “perks” takes a person of integrity and honor. To be able to recognize the part God has for you to play and play it without looking over your shoulder to see if anyone else has a better part, or is doing as good a job as you are, takes a very big person. As my little story shows, I wasn’t quite there.
Comparing Jonathan’s story with my own was a little uncomfortable for me, but it was also eye opening. I had certainly let circumstances, rather than my beliefs, affect my behavior. See, I believed that God was in control, even if the decisions affecting me were seemingly made by people. If I believed that God was taking care of everything, I should have been able to be content and at peace.
I had to put some work into aligning my actions to make them consistent with my beliefs. That became my personal definition of integrity, and a question I can ask myself when wondering if I am making the right choice is, “Are my actions consistent with my beliefs?” Only when I can answer with a resounding “yes” can I be sure that my integrity is not in question.
The happy ending to this story is that I did bring my actions and my attitude around to match my beliefs. I learned the value of playing my part as unto God and was content with my place. Soon enough, my superiors began to notice my performance, and my value to the company also increased.
1 1 Samuel 18:3–4.
2 1 Samuel 14:1–16.
3 1 Samuel 20:2 NIV.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2012 by The Family International