Title: The Prince
Author: Francine Rivers
Series: Sons of Encouragement, book 3
Major Themes: Saul, David, Israel
Synopsis: When his father Saul became king, Jonathan’s entire life changed.
When the history program I am going through with my children suggested reading Francine River’s Sons of Encouragement novellas, I was a bit dubious. All I had ever read of her books were romances, and I don’t read romance books to my children. I had a look at the first one, about Aaron the brother of Moses, and decided it looked safe. I read it to them, they loved it, and we were hooked. Now we have read the third book, The Prince, and plan to read the other two as well.
Jonathan was just a teenager when his grandfather Kish, angry that Jonathan’s father Saul had delegated watching the donkeys to someone else, sent Saul to find the strayed animals. Saul just wanted to stay home and plow the fields, but he grudgingly went. Jonathan knew, as soon as his father returned, that something strange had happened. Kish badly wanted Saul to be made king over the land, but Saul wanted only to continue farming. When Saul was practically forced into being made king, Jonathan worried. His father was not following Samuel’s instructions to copy the Law and read it daily. So, Jonathan took that upon himself.
As the years went on, Saul did more and more things that the Law clearly said not to do—and Jonathan kept worrying and trying to tell his father what was right. Then, Saul turned against Jonathan’s best friend, David, and irrationally chased him, trying to kill him. What was Jonathan to do? How could he honor his father, show love to his friend, and keep the Law, all at the same time?
This is a very different way to look at the story of Saul and David. I really liked the way the author stayed faithful to the details given in the Bible, while at the same time fleshing out the story with conversations and motives. This is a powerful account of a man whose greatest desire was to serve God with all his heart. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys Biblical fiction.
WARNING: Chapter 2, page 65: a vivid description of killing men in battle. Chapter 3, page 81: Samuel killing Agag by cleaving his skull; page 94: David cutting off Goliath’s head. Chapter 5, page 157: description of a kiss. Chapter 6, page 199: description of Jonathan’s death.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults