One of my favorite characters in the Bible is King David, so much so that I once preached 11 months on his life. Of the many lessons we glean from his example is that of true, godly friendship. The man after God’s heart also yearned for the companionship of a comrade. We don’t hear enough about the bond of friendships; just that we’re to love everyone, not create exclusive cliques, and “have fellowship” with each other. Does anyone really fellowship anymore? What does that even mean?
Friends: Wyatt and Doc. Butch and Sundance. Laverne and Shirley. Abbott and Costello. Laurel and Hardy. Ben and Matt. Riggs and Murtaugh. Cagney and Lacey. King Arthur and Sir Galahad.
“By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David – an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend. Saul received David into his own household that day, no more to return to the home of his father. Jonathan, out of his deep love for David, made a covenant with him. He formalized it with solemn gifts: his own royal robe and weapons – armor, sword, bow, and belt” (1 Samuel 18:1-4).
Jonathan is pretty serious about his new pal, David. Wouldn’t that be hilarious if they made a fort in the palace, pulled out the Xbox, and watched movies all night, eating pizza rolls. Problems start when King Saul gets jealous of David and looks for an opportunity to kill him. “Your father knows that we are the best of friends” (20:3). David knows that Saul is hiding this plot from his son. The two really exemplify the strength and commitment of a true godly and biblical relationship, showing us that a friend…
Jonathan demonstrates this by surrendering his own tunic, sword, and belt; perhaps an acknowledgment that David will one day be king…not him. He literally laid down his birthright. Not only that, he was risked his life facing the king on David’s behalf (20:33). Years ago, a Venezuelan student criticized us for our flippant use of the word friend. “You call even acquaintances ‘friend.’ In my country, we’d be willing to die for someone we called our friend.” Jesus had the same thing in mind: “This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends” (John 15:13).
“Jonathan was deeply impressed with David – an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number one advocate and friend” (18:2). Jonathan was royalty and the heir to the throne of Israel. David was a smelly, stinky, shepherd boy. He was probably clad in rags or animal skins…a little out of place in the king’s palace. But he received David as his own brother.
When Saul trashes David, Jonathan sticks up for him, almost getting killed in the process. Do we stick by our friends? Or do we listen to others berate them, perhaps joining in? Are we willing to stand by them through the good and the bad? Or do we turn and run when there’s trouble?
There were no walls or masks between David and Jonathan. I’m sure they shared their dreams, their hurts, their romantic quests, innermost thoughts and feelings, visions, and struggles. And so great was their grief when they realized they’d never see each other again that they “wept and cried together” (20:41).
David was willing to speak the truth to Jonathan about his father, as much as it might have hurt him. There are times we have to get in each other’s faces to stop one the other from doing something stupid. This will cause stress and even pain, but will only make us stronger when it’s resolved. “You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17). Friends help keeps us focused and from making rash, foolish decisions.
David fears for his life but Jonathan is there to strengthen him emotionally. “God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!” (20:42). Life gets stressful and cuts us down. There will be times where we’ll need our friends to pick us back up. I also believe that when encouragement is present, conflict is absent.
Eases our burdens
While David stung with fear and betrayal by Saul, Jonathan pledged his support: “Tell me what I can do!” (20:4). In the darkest of times, we can help ease the tension, pain and suffering. None of us are here to fend for ourselves. “I’ve got your back. I’m committed to you no matter what happens.”
“Jonathan repeated his pledge of love and friendship for David. He loved David more than his own soul!” (20:17). Such a difficult, ambiguous, and complex word; especially for men. Why is it so hard to express this at times? It’s only 3 words: “I love you.” It’s one thing to love someone and demonstrate it, but can we say it? While some may feel it’s a threat to their manhood, let’s remember that Jonathan and David were warriors. Yet they were so close that they were willing to pay the ultimate price for the other.