Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 18, Revelation 8-9
It cannot be by accident or random coincidence that in 1 Samuel 18 the writer of Samuel contrasts the relationship of two men – a father and a son – to the same person David, in the same chapter, in the course of telling David’s story.
So, some reflections this morning on the nature of true friendship from the contrasting stories of Jonathan and his Dad.
True friendship is other-person centred.
David and Jonathan’s friendship is built on other-centred love. In verses 3-4 we read that Jonathan “loved David as himself”. The act of giving away his robe, sword etc is evidence of this (noting that at this time David was a shepherd from the “sticks” while Jonathan was a sophisticated rich prince from the big city, perhaps explaining why David would need these items if he was to enter the service of the King).
In contrast Saul’s relationship with David is entirely self-seeking. He perceives young David to be a threat and uses his power to manipulate circumstances to keep David out of the limelight. Rather than lead, mentor and guide the promising young warrior Saul surrenders to self-centred jealousy and manoeuvres and plots to ensure that his own position is secured in the minds of the people of Jerusalem, even plotting David’s death (vs 11,17 ).
Philippians 2 provides a great guide to Christian friendship
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others”. (Phil 2:2).
True friendship, like David and Jonathan’s, is not based on getting your needs for companionship, approval, and validation met by someone else – it is based on other-centred acts of devotion.
True friends keep their word.
In verse 3 Jonathan makes a covenant of faithfulness to David and he remains faithful to it as we will read as events unfold in the rest of 1 Samuel.
Saul however breaks his word promising his daughter Merab to David, only to change his mind only verses later (vs 19)
God is faithful. He keeps his promises.
“The one who calls you is faithful. And he will do it!” (1 Thess 5:24)
Christian friends reflect their father’s character when they keep their word to each other.
True friends are prepared to go out of their way for each other.
Throughout his lifetime Jonathan played a dangerous game maintaining his loyalty to David while also honouring and respecting his father the King. This often placed him in a difficult situation. As the story unfolds in the chapters that follow we will read how Jonathan puts himself “in harm’s way” many times to protect his friend.
Jesus said “Greater love has no one than this, that he lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do as I command” (John 15:13-14)
Jesus willingly laid down his life for us. In doing so he modelled true friendship to us.
Jonathan was prepared to put himself at risk for his friend David.
Are we prepared to give up our time, our money, perhaps even our personal safety for our friends?
How are you going?
In the busy world we live in it can be tough keeping our friendships invigorated and fresh amongst all the other competing pressures of life. As I have read this chapter over the past few days I have been challenged to reassess how much effort I am putting into my friendships and whether I am more interested in receiving than delivering a blessing to my mates.
Lord, you have demonstrated to us what true friendship is all about by dying on the cross for us while we were your enemies. Teach me how to be a true friend to my Christian mates, just as you have been to me.