Genuine Friends Till Death (A Look At Jonathan & David)
The Old Testament friendship between Jonathan and David is one of the most genuine friendship stories ever told. For a 21st century young adult, it is necessary for you to understand the importance of building friendships with other young Christians, especially those of the same gender. Studying the friendship that developed between Jonathan and David will assist you in developing your Christian friendships.
The nation of Israel had turned its back on God often. This particular time they became jealous of other nations who had a king. God had always been Israel’s king, but now they protested and wanted an earthly king. Their desire grieved the heart of God. So He granted their request.
Saul became the first king of Israel. (One of Saul’s sons was named Jonathan.) But, Saul’s heart was not towards God as he turned to evil. This caused God to reject Saul as king and raise a successor who would be a man after God’s own heart. This successor was to be David – a young, unknown shepherd from the town of Bethlehem. As we shall see, Saul was not going to give up his throne without a fight.
This it the backdrop that was present as we see how a genuine friendship is developed.
God Births a friendship
Jonathan is a successful general in the army of Israel under his father, King Saul. He loved God passionately and showed it in his military victories over the Philistines. Even as his father’s disobedience was drawing him away from God, Jonathan remained faithful to God.
God was also preparing David to be the next king of Israel. God looks at the human heart and found a man after His own heart in David. I Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God brought David into King Saul and Jonathan’s life through David slaying the Philistine giant, Goliath. David was the only one in Israel who saw God as bigger than the giant Goliath. Therefore, through David, God killed Goliath and rescued Israel.
After the slaying of Goliath, Jonathan and David initially meet. Jonathan saw something in David that so few, if any, saw. It was more than the courage to take on Goliath. Jonathan saw the same passionate love for God he had in David’s heart. This is critical for you to see because only with a heart to love God can the Holy Spirit bond you with brothers and sisters in Christ. If you desire these kinds of friends, I encourage you to passionately love God daily in the depths of your heart. Reflect often with gratitude to Jesus for your salvation. Tell Him. Then, I assure you, the Holy Spirit shall bond you to true, genuine friends, as we shall see He does with Jonathan and David.
Look at the instant bond and love Jonathan has for David. I Samuel 18:1-4 Now, it came about when he (David) had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Saul took him that day and did not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt.
Jonathan has pledged unconditional loyalty to David, as evident of giving David his armor. This is a mark of a genuine friend, pledging undying loyalty. These are the kind of friend you must be and must pray for. We shall also see David pledging the same friendship.
Genuine friends always make time for one another, always understand one another, and can always be counted on to be there for one another. They never take advantage of one another. Genuine friends may not see one another for months or years, and they will pick up their conversation as if they saw one another yesterday.
Frienship Through Adversity
The quality and depth of any friendship always displays its character when adversity strikes and affects the friendship. We will see this adversity occur as the friendship of Jonathan and David develops. The adversity occurs with the presence of King Saul, the father of Jonathan.
King Saul placed David as one of the commanders of his army. Because God was with him, David was very successful in his army campaign and the people were praising David more than Saul. (The people obviously remembered the slaying of Goliath.) This made Saul, who had already become hard-hearted against God, jealous. Saul began to see David as a threat to his throne and tried to subvert David whenever possible. Yet, David had no intention to overthrow Saul. He always remained a loyal servant and soldier to Saul.
Saul’s jealousy was turning to rage that he now intended to kill David. Imagine the deep pain that Jonathan feels that his father is trying to kill his best friend. Has something like this ever occurred in your life? A close friend or family member is attempting (with lies and words) to falsely hurt your best friend. If you can relate, then relate well to Jonathan. Jonathan has already walked the path you are walking. See how well Jonathan responds to the crisis.
Jonathan shielded David from his father. He even persuaded his father that David has always been a faithful servant and soldier. Even after Saul acknowledged David’s faithfulness and loyalty, his rage and jealousy only grew until it overtook him to kill David. This continually led David into hiding from Saul, to save his life.
Jonathan and David already had a deep, mutual love for one another. This crisis bonded them even deeper. They both knew David needed to flee Saul to survive. Jonathan also knew his father was wrong to kill David. This certainly again grieved the heart of Jonathan, thinking deeply how wrong his father is. For Saul even threw a spear at Jonathan to kill him for taking David’s side. Saul became desperate and intended to kill David at any cost. Jonathan was now torn between the two men he deeply loved and admired. He was stuck in the middle. (You, also, can become easily stuck in the middle between two friends you deeply love and admire. This is why your response must be God’s response. Yes, have a heart of God to love them both. But, it is important to be fair and objective. Look at all the facts and make rational decisions. Pray often and stay close to the heart of God.)
Jonathan stayed close to God’s heart and was able the make a mature decision. He reaffirmed his undying pledge and love to David. Look at the depths of the covenant Jonathan and David made before David fled. Make Jonathan’s words your words as you pledge friendship to the one who is a real, genuine friend of yours. I Samuel 20:12-17, 23 Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if there is a good feeling toward David, shall not then send to you and make it known to you? If it please my father to do you harm, may the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also, if I do not make it known to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. And may the Lord be with you as He has been with my father. If I am still alive, will you not show me the lovingkindness of the Lord, that I may not die? You shall not cut off your lovingkindness from my house forever, not even when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.”
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord require it at the hands of David’s enemies.” Jonathan made David vow again because of his love for him, because he loved him as he loved his own life. “As for the agreement of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”
Before David fled, he and Jonathan expressed their committed friendship to one another. There will be many times that best friends must go separate ways. That is why it is important for you, like Jonathan and David, to always express your love and commitment to your best friends. I Samuel 20:41-42 When the lad was gone, David rose… and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David wept the more. Jonathan said to David, “Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever.’ “ Then he arose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.
There shall be one final meeting between Jonathan and David. It occurs while David is hiding from Saul at Horesh. Again, see the humility and love of Jonathan in his words to David. There certainly is a “Jonathan” waiting in your life. You, also, can be a “Jonathan” to a friend in need – for you to encourage, being there for him or her.
I Samuel 23:16-18 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, to encourage him in God. Then he said to him, “Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father will not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.” So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.
Jonathan exhibits the words of Jesus: “There is no greater love than one lay down his life for his friends.” Jonathan gave up his succession to the throne of Israel to David. He knew God’s hand and favor was with David. He did not become jealous, like his father had. Jonathan chose to take the lower seat and humble himself before God.
A genuine, Christian friend will take the lower seat for the benefit of the other. Is this the kind of friend you want to be?
We have seen most of this friendship told through the eyes of Jonathan. Let’s now see the depths of this friendship through the eyes of David. David has just learned of the death of his best friend Jonathan (and his father King Saul) at the hands of the Philistines. Deep grief has overcome David. He will never see his best friend again. David’s words express the same depth of love for Jonathan and Saul. Genuine friends always grieve over the loss and death of the other. David expresses it so convincingly. II Samuel 1:25-27 “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful that the love of women. How high the might fallen, and the weapon of war perished!”
One final example that shows the bond and covenant of friendship going to the next generation is David showing kindness to Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. You can read the entire story in II Samuel 9.
yOUR FRIENDSHIPS TODAY
Genuine Christian friends always have an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus first. They talk with Jesus often and enjoying reading His Word (the Bible). They pray often and share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others.
You are now to make a choice to what kind of friend you want to be and what kind of friend you must be to others. Be in prayer about it. The Holy Spirit shall show you. God bless you.
“Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®,Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995by the Lockman Foundation. Used be permission.”