The comments from last week’s post, Jesus Is A Friend That’s Closer Than A Brother, were amazing. I love when you, as readers, make comments because the comments you post cause me to reflect more on God’s Word. As I am reflecting, the Holy Spirit gives me new insights to write about … so thank you! Last week’s comments got me thinking about what causes friendships to develop. Sometimes there is a natural progression of stages that occur before true friendships develop into the relationships God intended. Other times there is an immediate connection that defies these stages and a life long friendship forms almost instantaneously. No matter how friendships occur, at the heart of it all is the desire to be a friend and to have a friend. As one reader commented, he believes that we all desire to approach people just like that little child who says, “Would you like to be my friend?” But, many of us adults have allowed past pain and hurt to prevent us from being open enough to take that risk. Oh, how wonderful it would be if we allowed ourselves to develop and grow true friendships like my little Ella mentioned in last week’s post. Because … without that leap of faith you could be missing out on the friendship of a lifetime.
JONATHAN AND DAVID: EXCEPTIONAL FRIENDS
The Word of God is the best guide for what it takes to be that exceptional friend, like in the old testament story of Jonathan and David. The Israelites had long asked God to have a king because they desired to be like the nations around them. God told Samuel, His prophet, to anoint Saul as king. Israel was at war with the Philistines and their champion was a giant named Goliath. The Philistines tormented the Israelites saying if they had a man that could defeat Goliath they would become the Israelites’ servants. Goliath struck fear in the entire Israelite army and the battle was at a standstill. David, a young shepherd boy, was sent by his father to give food to his brothers who were in the Israelite army. David, hearing Goliath’s threats toward Israel, said who is this Philistine who comes up against the army of the living God? And, why hasn’t someone taken him out? When what David said was reported to King Saul, Saul sent for David. David told King Saul that no one should loose heart on the count of Goliath. David said he would go and fight against Goliath. Many of you know how this famous story ends … David, a young shepherd boy – too small even for the armor given him- slays Goliath with one stone from his sling shot. When David had come from killing Goliath and the slaughtering of the Philistine’s army, King Saul told Abner, the captain of his army, to bring David to him.
1 Samuel 17:58 -18:1-4 “Tell me about your father, young man,” Saul said. And David replied, “His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem.” After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself. Jonathan sealed the pact by taking off his robe and giving it to David, together with his tunic, sword, bow, and belt.
Jealousy has no place in the hearts of true friends. When Jonathan and David first met there could have been much jealousy between them. David could have been jealous of Jonathan, the King’s son, who had every advantage of the kingdom. And Jonathan could have been jealous of David who now had his own father’s attention and favor. But that was not the heart of Jonathan nor David. Imagine having someone give you the very clothes off their back, but not just any clothes. I’m talking about what would be considered by today’s standards …Louie Vuitton, Versace, Michael Kors … People, that’s exactly what Jonathan did for David without expecting anything else in return other than David’s friendship.
Exceptional friends are truly a gift from God. Isn’t it amazing how after King Saul finished speaking to David that Prince Jonathan’s soul immediately became knitted together with David, the shepherd boy. It’s said, Jonathan loved David as his own soul and out of their love for each other they formed a covenant before God. What a perfect picture of genuine friendship given by the Spirit of The Lord. Jonathan gave David his sword and belt and I see the sword of the Spirit and the belt of truth being represented in the foundation of their friendship. What began as a spiritual friendship is now being displayed as an outward demonstration of Jonathan’s love for and loyalty toward David.
A friend will mediate on your behalf in the presence of your enemies. Jonathan placed his friendship with David above being a prince and someday inheriting his father’s kingdom. You see, Jonathan’s father, King Saul, became very jealous of David and fearful that David had the hearts of the people. King Saul sought to killed David after becoming enraged by a song that the women had sung praising David more than Saul. Sin and a prideful heart caused Saul not to see David for the man of God he was. Saul was so blinded by sin and an evil spirit that he would not receive David as his faithful, trustworthy servant and friend. Nor did he care about the deep friendship his own son, Jonathan, had with David. But Jonathan was willing to intercede on David’s behalf. Jonathan reminded Saul of how David was his servant and not to sin against David because David had not sinned against him. In fact, David had done nothing but good to Saul. Jonathan reminded his father that David had risked his own life by going up against Goliath and God himself had brought about a great salvation for all of Israel. So why sin against innocent blood by killing David?
1 Samuel 19:1-7 Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.” The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the LORD brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!” So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, “As surely as the LORD lives, David will not be killed.” Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.
A true friend is willing to pay the ultimate price. Jonathan, a true friend, told David that his father was once again plotting to kill him. All the while, knowing his very own life was in danger. Saul was willing to take the life of his own son to prevent him from getting in the way of killing David. Jonathan’s love and friendship caused him to put his own life at risk each time he warned David against his father’s repeated attempts to kill him.
1 Samuel 20:30-34 Saul boiled with rage at Jonathan. “You stupid son of a whore!” he swore at him. “Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as that son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!” “But why should he be put to death?” Jonathan asked his father. “What has he done?” Then Saul hurled his spear at Jonathan, intending to kill him. So at last Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. Jonathan left the table in fierce anger and refused to eat on that second day of the festival, for he was crushed by his father’s shameful behavior toward David.
The blessings of friendship is far reaching. The very next morning Jonathan would take a young lad with him as he went to once again warned David of his father’s treachery. Jonathan realized that his father would never give up his quest to kill David. So Jonathan and David wept together and said their final goodbyes. Jonathan reminded David of their covenant and they both promised to carrying on this bond of loyalty and love even to their children’s children.
1 Samuel 20:35-42 The next morning, as agreed, Jonathan went out into the field and took a young boy with him to gather his arrows. “Start running,” he told the boy, “so you can find the arrows as I shoot them.” So the boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. When the boy had almost reached the arrow, Jonathan shouted, “The arrow is still ahead of you. Hurry, hurry, don’t wait.” So the boy quickly gathered up the arrows and ran back to his master. He, of course, suspected nothing; only Jonathan and David understood the signal. Then Jonathan gave his bow and arrows to the boy and told him to take them back to town. As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from where he had been hiding near the stone pile. Then David bowed three times to Jonathan with his face to the ground. Both of them were in tears as they embraced each other and said good-bye, especially David. At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE VALUE OF A FRIEND
David was blessed and so was Jonathan by their love and friendship towards each other. We would all do well to learn from their examples of what genuine friendship is all about. I am so glad to have a friendship like this with Christ, first, then with my wife, and then a few close friends God has placed in my life. My prayer for all those who read Wade in the Word is that God would so richly bless you with His exceptional friendship first, and then exceptional friendships with others.
If you want to know more about an exceptional friendship with Christ or need prayer concerning the friendships in your life, contact me using the envelope in the upper right hand corner. Be sure to type in carefully both sets of security numbers into the box.