The Big Idea
Friendship is a blessing. Investing in relationships with others that bring enjoyment, sharing and commitment is something that will serve us well throughout life.
1 Samuel 18:1-5
Jonathan was the son of King Saul. He had already proved himself a capable man, routing an enemy army with just his armour bearer at his side. He was the heir to the throne, and would have expected to inherit the kingship from his father. David being anointed by the Lord as the next king was great for David, but it was costly for Jonathan.
It would be easy to think that Jonathan would resent (and perhaps even actively oppose) David in these circumstances. But instead of causing trouble, Jonathan becomes friends with David, and their friendship serves as one of the best examples of what a great friendship looks like in the whole Bible.
The first thing we see in these verses is that Jonathan’s soul was knit to the soul of David. This is another way of saying that they ‘clicked’. They were on the same page and they thought and felt a similar way about many things. They had a common cause as both had acted in courageous ways to see God’s people delivered and God’s name glorified. We should love and serve everybody, but we should also recognise when we find a friend who we click with in this way and have a shared godly purpose together, and make an effort to invest in such a friendship.
We also see that Jonathan loved David’s soul as his own. This means that he was not simply using his friend for his own ends but genuinely wanted the best for him. This was played out later in the story when Jonathan’s father wanted to have David killed, but Jonathan managed to get a warning to David. Even at the expense of his own opportunity to be king, Jonathan wanted the best for his friend. Investing in a good friendship sometimes means deliberately sacrificing what we might want for the good of our friend.
Thirdly, we see Jonathan making a covenant with David. Whilst we may not mark our friendships in quite such a formal way, the principle of being committed to our friends is an important one. Jonathan promises loyalty to David, and we can show similar loyalty by being reliable and always there for them when needed. There is a big difference between a flaky friend and one who is committed!
The friendship between Jonathan and David plays a big role in this story. Both parties have invested in building the friendship, and at different points in the story both act against their own self-interest to do good to the other. Ultimately both benefit immensely from being able to call the other friend.
Good friendships don’t happen by accident. They are something we must work at and invest in building, but they are so worth it.
Taking It to Jesus
In John 15, Jesus calls his disciples friends and tells them that there is no greater love than what he is about to do – to lay down his life for his friends. This builds on the friendship we have seen between Jonathan and David. With covenant commitment and love, the willingness to sacrifice your own best interests for the good of your friends is the mark of true friendship.
- Identify what people there are in our lives who we can develop these friendships with.
- Put effort in to growing these friendships. Great friendships do not happen on their own!
- Keep in mind there may be some in the congregation who struggle to make friends and who may feel they don’t have any friends. It would be good to gently encourage those who are feeling this way.