JONATHAN AND HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH DAVID

1 Samuel 18:1-5 When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.  Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armour, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

David: Well-known from the story of ‘David vs Goliath;’ a shepherd boy who would one day become King of Israel.

Jonathan: A Prince of Israel, and a brave and mighty soldier; the son of the Saul, who David would replace as King.

What can we learn about friendship, and shining God’s love in the life of another, by looking at Jonathan and David’s friendship?

JONATHAN GENUINELY CARED FOR DAVID

Another translation NLT says of 1 Samuel 18:1 “…and soon David and Jonathan became best friends. Jonathan thought as much of David as he did of himself.”

David and Jonathan formed their friendship immediately after David has killed Goliath. Given the circumstances, it was natural that people would want to get close to David. He had just slain a giant and the enemies of Israel had fled in terror. We read that the women of Israel were singing and dancing to songs they had made up about David

1 Samuel 18:6-7 As they were coming home, when David returned from killing the Philistine, the women came out of all the towns of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they made merry, ‘Saul has killed his thousands and David his tens of thousands.’

David had gone from zero to hero! He was an overnight sensation. If ancient Israel was anything like our own celebrity-obsessed society, then people would have been flocking to David, trying to get “in” with the man of the moment!

But that’s not the impression we get of Jonathan. He wasn’t some star-struck fan; Jonathan was a respected soldier in his own right, and, what’s more, he was the Prince of Israel. Perhaps Jonathan admired David’s courage and bravery in fighting Goliath. Perhaps he had heard David’s challenge to Goliath — “I’ve come out to fight you in the name of the Lord Almighty”— and was impressed with David’s devotion to God. We don’t know exactly what it was that drew Jonathan and David together, but their relationship was tight.

 This was a genuine friendship. No strings attached. No hidden motives or secret agendas.

Secondly, JONATHAN WAS A FRIEND IN BOTH GOOD TIMES AND BAD

 Jonathan set out and came to David at Horesh; there he strengthened his hand through the Lord. 1 Samuel 23:16

David’s popularity and his continued military success made him a threat to King Saul, Israel’s ruler. King Saul feared losing his throne to David, and so determined to have David killed. David is forced to flee for his life; Israel’s “saviour” is now a wanted man.

Psalm 142 gives us some insight into how David is feeling at this point. Hiding in a cave, his world having been completely up-ended, David pours out his heart to God: Look on my right hand and see—    there is no one who takes notice of me; no refuge remains to me; no one cares for me. Psalm 142:4

Despite being surrounded by people—he had been joined by 400 men—David feels abandoned. He feels that no one really cares. Regardless of the many acquaintances, followers, and devotees around him, what David really needs is a genuine friend.

It’s at this point that Jonathan proves that he is a friend in both good times and bad. While David is still in hiding, Jonathan seeks his friend out. Jonathan goes to him and, with God’s help, encourages David.  (1 Samuel 23:16)

Consider the significance of what Jonathan does for his friend:

 It’s Jonathan’s father who wants David dead. Jonathan is defying his own father—the King of Israel—to help his friend.

In 1 Samuel 22 we read that Saul had executed 85 priests because they had aided David. There were terrible consequences for those who were seen to be friends with David. Despite the risk, Jonathan still went to encourage his friend.

To compound the danger, David had hundreds of men on his side who were enemies of Saul. As Saul’s son, Jonathan might have had enemies within David’s ranks. Jonathan was walking into a volatile situation by seeking David out.

It is in the dark times that the light of friendship shines brightest. How do you think David reacted when, in the midst of his despair, his friend Jonathan arrives to encourage him? Given how much Jonathan was risking to come and see him, how awestruck do you think David was by the commitment of his friend?

It’s worth contrasting this encounter between Jonathan and David, with that of Job and his friends. The Biblical story of Job is about a man who has lost everything. Just like David, Job’s world has been turned upside down.

In a series of terrible calamities, he loses his children, his wealth, and his health. He is a broken man, struggling to understand why God has allowed this to happen to him, and desperate for encouragement. Job has three friends who come to “comfort” him. But, instead of being comforters, they merely add to Job’s misery. They criticized him and blamed him and gave him advice from their own wisdom and in the end it was God who chastised those friends for their advice.

 

What a contrast! On one hand we have Jonathan, who, at great personal risk, comes to encourage his friend David. He proved himself to be a true friend—a friend in good times and bad—who shines light into David’s life when he needs it the most.

On the other hand we have Job’s friends. Though they came under the pretense of offering ‘comfort’ they instead choose to accuse Job about his sinfulness, give him a lecture on theology, and add to Job’s suffering by criticizing him.

Here’s a thought for us: Are you and I encouragers? • Are we willing to put in some effort to encourage our friends? To step out of our comfort zones, or put ourselves out, for the sake of our friends? • Will we prove ourselves to be true friends—brothers and sisters born for a time of adversity—when those around us really need us?

Do we realize what a privilege it is to be used by God to encourage others?! Do we place ourselves in people’s lives in such a way that God can work through us?

Consider Job’s friends: Instead of being comforters or encouragers, are we guilty of lecturing or criticizing? Instead of trying to raise others up, do we put them down to make ourselves feel better/more righteous?

JONATHAN WANTED GOD’S BEST FOR HIS FRIEND

[Jonathan] said to [David], ‘Do not be afraid; for the hand of my father Saul shall not find you; you shall be king over Israel, and I shall be second to you…’ 1 Samuel 23:17

What an incredible statement for Jonathan to make! It was Jonathan’s birth right to be the next King of Israel. He was a Prince; the next in-line to the throne. Yet, in this statement, Jonathan is saying something remarkable; ‘I don’t want what’s best for me—I want God’s best for you!’

This is what “mission” is. Wanting God’s best for others.

When David was still a shepherd boy, unimportant and insignificant, God chose him to be the next King of Israel. He had a call on his life; a divine purpose to fulfil.

Jonathan could have resisted this. He could have made life as difficult as possible for David, or offered David absolutely no help or support. Jonathan could have chosen to fight to be King. But, instead, Jonathan invested himself in his friend’s life. He encouraged David and became his protector.

Jesus said that there is no greater love than to lay down (give up) our lives for our friends. In effect, this is what Jonathan does for David. He lays down his claim to Israel’s throne—he gives up a life as a King—so that his friend can have God’s best.

Do we want God’s best for our friends? Do we want God’s best for others? If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Many of our heroes in the Bible performed great and awesome miracles: Moses parted the Red Sea; Daniel survived a night in a pit of hungry lions; Joshua commanded the sun to stand still.

As far as we know, Jonathan didn’t do anything that would be considered miraculous or supernatural. Yet, what he did in the ordinary, simply by being a true friend, was hugely significant. Jonathan helped shape the life of one of Israel’s greatest Kings, and blessed the man who would be a forefather of Jesus

Keep your eyes on the Lord! Jonathan kept his eyes on the Lord. He lived a life devoted to God. Jonathan sought God’s best—God’s will to be done—above everything else, and this shaped how he conducted himself, and how he cared for his friend.

You will shine like the sun. Jonathan shone like the sun into David’s life. He encouraged David, he strengthened David, and he reassured David of God’s purposes when David’s world had been turned upside down. He was a true friend, in good times and bad, who wanted God’s best for David, even at his own expense.

We never know how far the ripples will spread when we invest in the lives of others. Many of our Baptist overseas workers are serving in mission because of the blessing they received from people in our churches; people who shone into their lives.

Be encouraged that the light you shone continues to shine far and wide!

Let’s encourage each other to keep our “eyes on the Lord!”

Let’s think about how we can “shine like the sun” into the lives of others.

Let’s honour those who shone God’s light into our own lives.