1 Sam. 18:1-4
Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
Here is the thing about passing the mantle from one to another. What is passed along is not always what one has come to possess or walk in. Sometimes the mantle is a right or an opportunity which will be unfulfilled and is waiting or meant for the recipient. Jonathan was the son of the king, and the tradition would have been for him to become king one day. That was his birthright, and no one of the time would have argued against that tradition. Then, God stepped in the picture. He had plans for another to be king after Saul. Another would be appointed according to God’s tradition and not man’s, and that would be David. What Jonathan left for him was a throne he never got to occupy.
Jonathan would come to know that David had been anointed to be king, and this created perhaps an unexpected response. We might think that Jonathan would have become jealous not only of David’s anointing but of the favor David had found with his own father, the king. What we see of him, however, is not a picture of jealousy but a picture of love and admiration for the man who would be king in his place. Jonathan passes the mantle to David by accepting him as an equal, submitting to the will of God. He comes to willingly grant what was his birthright to this anointed one. It lets us know that sometimes the legacy left with us is one which our predecessor could not or never was meant to fulfill.
Jonathan played his role as the son of the king, but David would play the role of king. Jonathan would help prepare David to do the work he never had the opportunity to do himself. We must recognize that the mantle passed along to us by those who disciple us may be something much greater than we think we are receiving. The end game of our preparation is not confined to the ministry or the work of our leaders. God just might be preparing the sons and daughters to accomplish the greater things their spiritual fathers and mothers simply were not meant to do. Father, broaden our vision of the legacies passed down to us through discipleship, that we would expect to walk in greater things yet.