The events portrayed in these chapters of 1 Samuel stand as a series of contrasts — and like a diamond photographs more brilliantly against black velvet, so the remarkable friendship of David and Jonathan stands out as a jewel against the dark, jealous rancor of Saul.
David is a golden boy who attracts the admiration and praise of Israel. Indeed, "All Israel and Judah loved David (1 Samuel 16:18). For Saul, who ruled the land, this respect for David, was threatening. Praise for another, in his mind, somehow diminished him and put his position on the line.
For Jonathan, Saul's son, who would have been a ruler in Israel, David's popularity could have been just as disturbing, making his own position more fragile. However, Jonathan loved David. Their souls were knit, and their relationship has survived throughout generations as the quintessential example of friendship. The difference between Saul's and Jonathan's response to David was in not just the eye, but the heart of the beholder.