Based upon 1 Samuel 18:1-4, was David a homosexual?


1 Samuel 18:1-4 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his fathers house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

No, we should not understand that David was a homosexual from this or any other text.

Homosexuality is a sin (Antinomianism and Homosexuality?; Same Sex Love?; Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven), and one which neither David nor Jonathon was ever judged for in Scripture. David was judged for being an adulterer and a murderer, and God would not have missed homosexuality had it been a reality in David's life! The Bible condemns David's adultery with Bathsheba - the sin affected him, his children and the entire nation of Israel. However, there is no condemnation of the relationship David and Jonathon. Why? Because there was no homosexual relationship.

There is no linguistic similarity between 1 Samuel 18:1-4 and the language of Genesis 2:24 and "becoming one flesh." David loved Jonathon, but there are different types of love. The love expressed here is that of loyal friendship, as a brother (2 Sam. 1:26; cf. Gen. 44:30), and not erotic love. Linguistically the exact same word in Hebrew ('ahab) is used to describe all of Israel and Judah's love for David (1 Sam. 18:16). Moreover, Jonathon did not strip himself of all his clothes in front of David, rather just his amour and robe (1 Sam. 18:4). As The Spirit of the Reformation Bible states:

As a crown prince, Jonathon would likely have entertained the expectation that he would succeed his father as king (1 Sam. 20:31). In 1 Samuel 13:22 Jonathon and Saul had been distinguished from the rest of the people by their possession of their swords and spears. Here Jonathon's transference of his robe and weaponry to David not only signified his self-giving loyalty but also implied that, even at this early stage, he recognized David as God's choice for the next king (see 1 Sam. 23:17).
More of the relationship is revealed in 1 Sam. 20:41 where there is a holy kiss (cf. Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:12; 1 Thess. 5:26), which was common in this culture and not erotic. They also wept together. This was a deep friendship, just as Jonathon later states, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever'" (1 Sam. 20:42).

David was attracted to women - even too much so as with Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11). He had a number of wives (Ahinoam of Jezreel, Abigail the Carmel, Maachah the daughter of King Talmai of Geshur, Haggith, Abital, Eglah, and Bathsheba, the daughter of Ammiel - 1 Chron. 3). David was not sexually attracted to other men. Rather than being evidence for a homosexual relationship, David and Jonathan's friendship is proof that two men can be friends and not be homosexuals.

Related Links:

Were Ruth and Naomi Lesbians?
Same-Sex Love?
Antinomianism and Homosexuality?
Is Passive Homosexuality Permitted in Scripture? - 1 Corinthians 6:9
The Queen James Bible?
No Cake for You?
Homosexuality and the Centurion's Servant?
Practicing Homosexuals Can Go to Heaven?
Homosexuality or Inhospitality? - Genesis 19:5
Isaiah and Homosexuals? - Isaiah 56:3
God Hates...

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).