“Jonathan said to him, “No, you won’t die. Listen, my father doesn’t do anything, great or small, without telling me. So why would he hide this matter from me? This can’t be true.”” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Jonathan was the kind of guy who believed the best about everybody. He was loyal and true no matter who he was dealing with. Today we tend to call this kind of person naive and we treat such a description as something we should want to avoid nearly at all costs. It’s better to have experienced and know how the world really works than it is to go through ripe to be taken for a ride by someone who does. Streets smarts are an indispensable tool for a good life. At least, that’s what we’re told.
But throughout his narrative arc, there’s something attractive about Jonathan. He’s the kind of guy you want to have as a friend. I mean, come on: How many people do you have in your life who will be committed to you and assume the best about you no matter what? Folks like that are a rare breed and all the more valuable for it.
And the deeper truth is that being naïve does not necessarily mean being unwise about evil. When it became clear that Saul really did have murderous intent toward David, Jonathan sent him packing and helped him escape from his father.
The fact is, Jonathan is one of the few characters in the Bible who’s life really is an example to follow from beginning to end. Yes, he stuck with his father even after he went crazy, but there’s is no evidence he participated in anything evil that he did.
No, being an eternal optimist does not mean we are not also realists. Realism and optimism aren’t antonyms. Optimism and pessimism are. Being able to look a hard situation or a hard-to-love person in the face and find the good in it or them is a gift from God and a gift to the world around us.
As followers of the God who is good, who created each person in the world uniquely in His image, and who has a good plan for His world and all those who are willing to trust Him to receive it, this wise optimism is something we should embrace. Pessimistic realism never led anybody into life. Realistic optimism like Jonathan had is the way to go.