“And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16).
I remember a statement from my freshmen year of college that has stuck with me over two decades. Dr. Wendell Evans said that if you have five real friends when you come to the end of your life, you should consider yourself as privileged. As I looked around, I thought, “I have more than five friends….” However, I now know the truth behind what he said.
It has been a privilege of mine to have many who would fit in that category. There are a few who stand out above the rest. First and foremost, I am thankful for my best friend – my wife of 23 years. Additionally, I thought of a few other friendships in which I saw some remarkable consistencies to that of Jonathan and David.
King Saul was filled with pride and out to destroy David. David had forged a strong mutual friendship with Jonathan, Saul’s son. Below, let me share with you four things I see in their friendship that would be good for us to emulate today:
“Jonathan arose.” Everyone around Jonathan was seeking to destroy David, but Jonathan arose! Jonathan rose above the low level of conduct of those around him. Jonathan had character which would stand faithful though all around him were evil. A true friend has character. Poor character makes a poor friend.
“Jonathan . . . went to David into the wood” Jonathan had been a friend to David through the thick and thin. David was once a hometown hero when he killed Goliath. Now, David is hiding from Saul as a marked man. Jonathan did not forsake him. He was loyal to David in both bad times and good times. True friendship is consistent. It does not forsake one in time of trouble.
“Jonathan . . . strengthened his [David’s] hand.” We should not be surprised to see Jonathan helping his friend in need. Good friendship requires giving as well as receiving. If you do not have friends maybe it is because you view friendship as only receiving and not giving. Parasites make poor friends.
“Jonathan . . . strengthened his hand in God.” Jonathan encouraged David’s faith. The best friends will help you in your spiritual life. Bad friends are those who lead you away from God. Choose friends who will be of help to you spiritually.
I am thankful for a wife and other friends who have strengthened my faith, helped me in times of need, stayed with me through stupid mistakes, and have never been on the “other side of the fence” against me. I want to be that kind of friend today, how about you?