David and Jonathan
When I think of friendships in the Bible, theirs is the first one that comes to my mind. I love what 1 Samuel 18:1 says, "...the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." What a depth of friendship and love!
All of us have known the joys of friendship but also the pain that can accompany broken relationships. There may be fewer of us that have experienced the unique gift of a friendship like David and Jonathan's, but the Lord gives us some insight into the foundation of their relationship...a foundation that we all must have if we want to have meaningful friendships. It starts with having the same pursuit.
I Samuel 17 recounts for us a story many of us have heard since we were young. It's the story of David and Goliath. Sadly, much of Sunday School material puts the emphasis on David as the hero, with the help of God. If you read through this chapter, though, David tells us who the Hero truly is:
"Then David said to the Philistine (Goliath), "You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand." I Samuel 17:45-47
David's pursuit was for the glory of the Lord and the exaltation of His name. He was not about making much of himself but making much of the One who saves both body and soul. He was a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22) because he loved the Lord with all his heart!
I Samuel 14 recounts a story about Jonathan and the man who carried his armor. It is a much lesser known story, yet mirrors the truths we read about in 1 Samuel 17. The Philistines were pressing in on the Israelites and they were in trouble....so much trouble that 1 Samuel 13:6 says they had resorted to hiding in caves, holes, rocks, tombs and even cisterns. Fear was high and the battle was at hand. Jonathan takes his armor bearer and goes to scout out the land. Scouting turns into strategy which turns into the striking and killing of twenty Philistines. God allowed panic to creep in, brought earthquakes on the land, and created confusion amongst the Philistines. They turned on themselves and the newly emboldened Israelite army came out of hiding and chased them down. The Lord saved Israel that day.
Jonathan wasn't looking to be a hero...but he knew who the Hero was and his confidence was in the name of the Lord. "Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few" I Samuel 14:6. Jonathan was not all about making a name for himself. He knew that greatness and power and glory belonged to the Lord alone. He walked by faith and not by sight knowing God would accomplish His purposes even if it meant using one man and a lone armor bearer.
It's no wonder we fast forward to 1 Samuel 18 and see this beautifully blossomed friendship. Their love for one another was built on the foundation of their love for God above all else. Humility marked their lives as they made much of Christ...so their friendship was naturally filled with humility as they loved one another as their own souls. A friendship's foundation must be built upon unparalleled love for God, a pursuit of His fame and renown, and a joyful expectation of His sovereign working in all things.
May the Lord make us faithful friends and may our own hearts reflect the love of David and Jonathan....first for the the Lord and then for each other! Because, in the words of Elizabeth Prentiss, "the voice of a fellow-traveler always stimulates his brother-pilgrim; what one finds and always speaks of and rejoices over, sets the other upon determining to find, too. God has been very good to you, as well as to me, but we ought to whisper to each other now and then, “Go on, step faster, step surer, lay hold of the Rock of Ages with both hands.”