1 Samuel 18:1-16; 20:1-42
Imagine that you are the CEO of a company. You enjoy the power and the perks of being at the top. Then along comes a young recruit who is rising quickly up the ranks of the company. You start hearing his name mentioned quite often at the water cooler. More than one of the V.P.’s has mentioned his name in their reports. The scuttlebutt is that some of the board of directors have actually taken this young man to lunch and have used the phrase “a shooting star,” and “heir apparent.” How do you feel? What is your attitude toward this person? Is he a threat that must be eliminated, or is he possibly the best man for the job, even if it costs you yours?
That is similar to the position Saul was in. Saul was king. He was supposed to get all the praise and honor from the people. How dare this ruddy little shepherd boy steal his thunder? It makes sense to us why Saul would be so upset with David. Saul was an arrogant guy who loved power, thought he was above the Law, and wasn’t about to let anyone take anything from him.
The truly surprising element of this story is Jonathan. If anyone should have been threatened by David it should have been Jonathan. Saul was an old guy. There was plenty of room for Saul to be king, and then to let David be king after he was gone. If anyone was getting bumped from the throne of Israel by David it was Jonathan, because he was the rightful heir to Saul’s throne. With David on the throne, Jonathan would be out. In most cultures Jonathan would have been in danger of being killed by the usurping king. Yet, in light of this serious threat, Jonathan loved David with all his heart. Once again, by observing the heart of Jonathan, we have a contrast to the heart of Saul.
Here are some observations about the friendship between Jonathan and David that may help us understand what true friendship should look like in the kingdom of God:
- It wasn’t natural. As we have already mentioned, Jonathan and David, by all natural standards, should have hated each other. Many times we think that our friendships have to sneak up on us and come from our natural surroundings. The truth is that sometimes the richest friendships come from “the other side of the tracks.” When this happens, we know that the friendship is rooted in the love of God and not our natural tendencies.
- It required a “Kingdom Perspective.” The greatest killer of friendships is the beast of envy. Too many times we evaluate someone by “how they make me look.” If I hang out with that person, will their pretty smile make me look plain? Will her skinny waist make me look fat? Will his outgoing personality make me look boring? Will his ability to communicate draw others to him instead of me? Jonathan could have easily fallen into this trap. Instead, Jonathan took a “Kingdom perspective.” The attitude that we should take when we approach people is, “this is GOD’S Kingdom, we are all parts of HIS body, HE will use whomever HE chooses for HIS purpose. We are all equal and there is no competition.” When we can die to the competition between us, and learn to value the good in each person, then we will be able to experience friendship that is deep and rich.
- It involved commitment. We all know that the key to success in marriage is commitment. When emotions come and go, it is the covenant between a man and a woman that keeps the relationship together. That is a no-brainer in marriage, but have we ever applied that principle to friendship? Jonathan and David made a covenant with each other to be friends to the end. That sounds strange to our ears. The tendency in our culture is to be “fair-weather” friends. We love to hang around you when you are fun and happy, and, more importantly, when we can get something out of you, but as soon as you start getting depressed, or tragedy strikes your life, or you start getting a little freaky, then we are out of here. That is not biblical friendship. Biblical friendship is the core of community. Biblical friendship should be built upon a mutual commitment to be united in the love of Christ and to work together for the common good of the community.
Meditate on these verses regarding friendship:
How good of a friend are you today? Are you using friendships to get something out of the other person, or are you committed to a friend for that person’s own good?