Most of my life has been lived in a rural farming community where friendships run deep and long. When my husband and I sensed God was moving us to the city, we had many questions. Now looking back, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for the new friendships developed. David & Jonathan form a godly model of mutual friendship.
In the last few weeks, one of my best friends has taken flight and headed south permanently. It is an opportunity I don’t want her to miss. However, my heart is filled with a mixture of joy and sadness, longing and releasing, holding on to friendship while letting go.
Friendships are as varied as the people forming the relationship, each a unique blend of the personal and corporate individuality.
Think about your closest friend. Where did you meet? What were the surrounding circumstances? Your friendship probably didn’t begin like Jonathan’s meeting of David.
David had just finished slaying Goliath, the harassing giant. The proof was his head tucked not so neatly under David’s arm. How is that for an image?
King Saul had just called David in for a personal interview. As soon as “Dad” was done, prince Jonathan introduces himself,
“Jonathan became one in spirit with David,
and he loved him as himself.”
I Samuel 18:1
Why such an instant connection between David and Jonathan? Jonathan, too, was a proven mighty warrior. As Jonathan looked at this half boy, not quite man, full of godly audacity, he loved him.
Jonathan loved David’s faith-filled reliance on God. He loved is courage, wit, and agility. Jonathan loved David deeply and fully. There was an instant connection!
The strength of the cord within friendship is love — a love beyond self!
“Jonathan made a covenant with David
because he loved him as himself.”
1 Samuel 18:3
Friendship is Generous
There were some aspects of this friendship that may seem logical, but not all. Friendship gives generously!
Jonathan was so committed to David, he willingly surrendered everything.
“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.”
1 Samuel 18:4
Every symbol of sonship and royalty, Jonathan gave freely to his friend. In this one act, they became equals. Every instrument of self-advancement, self-protection, and self-preservation was yielded.
The unity of genuine friendship embodies preferring another above yourself.
Increasing unpredictable and emotionally unstable, Saul planned to kill David. Such reasoning was beyond Jonathan’s ability to comprehend. To protect David, Jonathan stepped into the dangerous gap.
“Why should he be put to death?
What has he done?” Jonathan asked his father.”
1 Samuel 20:32
Saul hurled the spear intended to kill David at his own son! Jonathan bore the brunt force of his father’s unleashed anger. His father was beyond reason!
“…They kissed each other and wept together –
but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace,
for we have sworn friendship with each other
in the name of the LORD..”
1 Samuel 20:41-42
What a beautiful illustration demonstrating the sacrifice between friends.
For fifteen years, David was on the run from Saul’s deadly intent.
“…Day after day Saul searched for him…”
1 Samuel 23:14
How do we help a friend is in distress? You know the kind! The day after day, relentless, nagging, intruding, no-hope-in-sight kind of trial!
I love this part of the story! Saul with his hundreds of expert warriors, trackers, and interrogators could not find David, but friendship does. How far did Jonathan go to find his friend? How many caves did he search?
He ultimately went to the Desert of Ziph where David was hiding. Ziph means “melting”. Jonathan knew that his friend was in need. Perhaps faith was melting! Maybe courage was melting! The heat of the desert melts resolve, purpose, and even divine calling.
“…Saul had come out to take his life.”
I Samuel 23:15
The enemy is always out to destroy, but friendship speaks life!
The investment of friendship yields in multiplied measure. Friendship seeks to draw others into the fullness of all God has for them.
“Jonathan went to David at Horesh
and helped him find strength in God…
My father will not lay a hand on you.
You will be king over Israel…”
1 Samuel 23:16-17
Kingship should have been Jonathan’s portion, yet he reinforced the God call on David’s life. He reminded him of Samuel’s anointing and prophecy of kingship. Jonathan helped David look beyond the cave back to the palace. Beyond the tangled present to divine future!
Each time these two meet, we read:
“The two of them made a covenant before the LORD.”
1 Samuel 23:18
Friendship went beyond mutual satisfaction or personal gratification to life-long commitment.
You are probably familiar with the rest of the story. Saul and Jonathan died in battle. David did become king. However, David grieved the loss of his friend — a grief that would not be solaced.
“David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left
of the house of Saul
to whom I can show kindness
for Jonathan’s sake.’ ”
2 Samuel 9:1
“Yes, Mephibosheth!” was the response.
David quickly had Jonathan’s crippled son brought to him. He restored his inheritance of land and provision. David also gave Jonathan’s grown son a place at his own table. In other words, David took Mephibosheth as his own son.
Though Jonathan was no longer alive, David found a way to honour and show love to his friend. Friendship endures even into generations!
It is the context of friendship that sustains all viable relationships. Friendship is the unbroken cord holding fast personal relationships of parent and child, peer to peer, and husband with wife. It is the bridge often spanning generations, ethnicity, status, and gender.
The greatest context of friendship ever is God reaching down to humanity.
“I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know his master’s business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you.”
Don’t miss it! Jesus, the Lord of all calls us friend.
This brings me to my knees in humble disbelief and incomprehensible joy!
The covenant example of friendship between David and Jonathan is an image of the enduring friendship we have in Christ. We are as unworthy as the shepherd boy receiving the princes garments. He took the violent swing of death over our lives on the cross.
In our own desert of “melting”, Christ comes with the word of strength and encouragement, “you are My friend.”
With arms stretched wide, Jesus extends to us the profound simplicity and unparalleled favour of friendship! What a blessing to offer it back to Him in return.