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Be a Friend


best friends forever

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:1-4 NIV)


After David defeated the Philistine giant, Goliath of Gath, he entered the service of the first King of Israel, Saul. He and Saul's son, Jonathan, began a deep friendship that would last until Jonathan's death in battle, and would continue beyond his death in David's kindness to Jonathan's family when he became King.


Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. We don't often use language like this in speaking of friendship today. The two young men became one in spirit. There was a bond between them that was the deepest of friendships, and that included a deep connection of the soul. Some people go through life without ever having this kind of friendship. We count ourselves fortunate if we discover one really good friend in life. I am convinced this is one of the effects of the fall of humanity into sin. We were created for relationships, and friendship was meant to be the default of our existence. In Christ we are redeemed, and we have the unity of Spirit with Him and with one another that gives the potential to have many deep friendships.


We are social creatures, made for relationship with our Creator and with one another. We simply cannot live as fulfilled human beings without relationships with others. And yet we seldom take inventory and become intentional about friendships.


Back to Jonathan and David. They loved each other deeply. They cared about each other's welfare. They were willing to sacrifice for each other. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. They committed their lives to each other the way a military unit commits their lives to defend one another, to have each other's backs, and never to leave each other behind. But this covenant they made with one another was even deeper with meaning.


When Jonathan gave David his robe, tunic, sword, bow and belt, he was giving his full support for David to replace him as the next king of Israel. The gesture spoke volumes. "Here, David, you take the prince's robe and tunic and weapons. You will be the King instead of me, and I will follow you as my king." And Jonathan was true to his word. He remained faithful to David, even when it meant opposing his own father, King Saul.


David flees from Saul after Saul tries to pin him to the wall with his spear. He lives for years outrunning and outwitting Saul simply to stay alive. At one point, Jonathan comes to David at a place called Horesh:


And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” (1 Samuel 23:16-17 NIV)


Jonathan helped David find strength in God. David is the man the Bible calls "a man after God's own heart." David is the writer of a large portion of the Psalms. And his friend, Jonathan, comes to him to encourage him to hold on to God. He speaks his heart to David: “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” You will be King, David. I will be second to you. Deep friendship is a heart that is willing to put the other person first and myself second.


We can develop and practice social skills that build friendships. And we should. We can learn to be better listeners so another person is truly seen and valued. We can intentionally practice kindness and caring that simply seeks to bless someone else. We can spend time with others, building friendship. We can buck the trend of our culture to be easily offended and instead overlook offenses, giving grace to a friend having a bad day. We can measure our words and not simply speak every thought that comes into our head. And when we inevitably rub each other the wrong way, we can apologize and forgive.


The freedom to practice these social skills in a way that builds deep friendships instead of using people to get what we want comes from a changed heart. When we allow the love of Jesus Christ to permeate our heart and mind, we can love like Jesus loves. The more we belong to Jesus and know Him and His love, the more we can love others without manipulation or strings attached. Too often our fallen, selfish hearts do nice things for people to get them to like us. Too often the focus of our relationships is on what we are getting out of them and what they are doing for us. Jesus' love frees us to simply love because love fills our hearts.


God is love. (1 John 4:16) When we invite Jesus to come into our lives and give ourselves to Him we receive the purest, most selfless love in the universe. And when our hearts are dominated by that unconditional, agape love we can love others with the same love we have received. And that will result in deep, abiding friendships in our lives. The best vitamin for friendship? B1. God will take care of the rest...

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