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“That We Might have Hope” (Rom. 15:4)

First Samuel Chapters Seventeen To Twenty

David and Jonathan: A Formula for Friendship

This past summer I had the privilege of speaking at my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The number of relatives present may have been impressive, but what struck me was the number of friends. One can accumulate quite a number of them over the years.

When we turn to the Scriptures for examples of true friendship, the stories about David and Jonathan surely rank among the best. I believe David and Jonathan had a great formula for friendship. Now, I don’t think they actually sat down to figure out just how they were going to pursue friendship with each other, for I believe that their love for each other was a natural outgrowth of their love for God.

Blest be the tie that binds Our hearts in Christian love; The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above. (TLH 464:1)

The basis for any deep, true, lasting, friendship/relationship will be a mutual love for the Savior. We may have acquaintances in all sorts of walks in life. But the friendship of a fellow Christian can be a lasting, even permanent thing!

As we join with those of kindred heart and mind to rejoice in the Lord’s blessings or commiserate in the sorrows and troubles that come our way, we know the same loving Savior holds these individuals in His heart even as He holds us.

What a privilege to have Christian friends–not always seeing eye to eye on every issue that comes along, but always putting the Lord and His Word above every opinion, and even above each other!

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

“And it was so that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Then David and Jonathan made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1,3).

David, the “man after God’s own heart,” and Jonathan, faithful follower of his father, the Lord’s anointed, joined in a covenant that would not only last throughout their lifetimes, but into the next generation as well. “Most men will proclaim each his own goodness, but who can find a faithful man?” (Prov. 20:6).

Defending One Another

How did this great Christian friendship cause David and Jonathan to act toward each other? It led them to defend each other against terrific odds. When we read of King Saul’s fierce anger against David, and that he issued an edict calling for David’s life, Jonathan stood up to his father and defended the reputation of his friend.

On one occasion Saul’s anger burned so hot, and Jonathan’s defense of David was so intense, that Saul actually attempted to slay his own son. True Christian friends are willing to sacrifice–sometimes everything–for each other.

When Jonathan and David first pledged their loyalty to each other, Jonathan had given David gifts. Jonathan’s royal robe “with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt” were given as a token of their friendship. Yet these were not ordinary gifts. These were the trappings of a prince–one in line to the throne!

Even Saul himself recognized this as he ranted to Jonathan during one of his tirades: “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame? For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom.” Did this sway Jonathan from his loyalty to his friend? No, Jonathan stuck with his soul-mate even though it could cost him earthly gain and power.

How do your relationships stack up to that of David and Jonathan? Are your friendships based on a love for Christ first? Are you willing to “go to the mat” for your friends and defend the defenseless? Are you willing to take a stand with your friends even if it costs you other “friends,” personal gain, or social standing?

I think once again of the friends my parents have accumulated through the years. Will I have as many when I reach my later years? One thing I do know. No matter how friendless we may become, there is one Friend who will always be faithful to us.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Ev’rything to God in prayer! Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere? We should never be discouraged, Take it to the Lord in prayer. Can we find a Friend so faithful Who will all our sorrows share? Jesus knows our ev’ry weakness– Take it to the Lord in prayer. Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our Refuge– Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do thy friends despise, forsake thee? Take it to the Lord in prayer; In His arms He’ll take and shield thee, Thou wilt find a solace there. (TLH 457)

–Teacher David Bernthal