David, the shepherd boy, had to deal with rejection many times in his life, so his friendship with prince Jonathan, son of King Saul, stands out for all its sharp contrasts.
David's father forgot him when he was presenting his sons to Samuel at a feast. (The one where God wanted David anointed as the next king of Israel). His brothers picked on him when he was sent by their father to their army camp, with food and a need for information about the war.
After David killed the giant Goliath with his slingshot the general public praised and sang about him, but King Saul grew more and more jealous and cruel - even vindictive, throwing his spear at David when in a foul mood. Saul did that more than once.
Yes, in the midst of all this negative pressure from authority figures, David was blessed with a friendship with Jonathan.
Jonathan grew up in the palace, as heir apparent, and had lots of self-confidence and liked adventure. Once, he and his armour bearer made a sneak attack on the Philistines' camp - 'just in case' they would be successful. (They were!)
Another time in war, his father, King Saul, had decreed that no one in the army would eat until the evening. Jonathan had not heard this, so when he found some honey he had some and his eyes brightened with fresh energy. He shared some with the soldiers near him. When his father discovered this he wanted his son killed, but the soldiers defended him and credited the day's victory to his deed. So he was spared.
Jonathan admired and respected David. They became good friends.
David told Jonathan that Saul was out to kill him, which Jonathan didn't want to believe at first, but they agreed David would not show up at the king's table for a couple of days. Jonathan promised to pay attention to his father's reaction, and come to this field to give David a message by how he shot an arrow and sent a boy to fetch it. Jonathan also asked David to spare his life and those of his family if this should be true.
The second day King Saul was so furious about David's absence that he hurled his spear at Jonathan! The prince left the table without eating and knowing in his heart, that David was going to be the next king. They met in the field and played out the game with the arrows, but then Jonathan sent the boy home with the arrows and stayed for a tearful farewell from David.
From there David went into the hills and rallied a small army that moved around and tried to avoid King Saul's raids. Eventually David's patience and faith that God would bring him to the throne in His time paid off, and in a battle with the Philistines, King Saul fell on his own sword and two of his three sons, including Jonathan, were killed in that battle as well.
David mourned their deaths, and in the course of time was anointed king of Judah. When things settled down to peace, he sent to look for any of Jonathan's descendants. One small crippled boy was found, and he was brought to live in David's palace like one of his own family. It was David's way of honouring his dear friend Jonathan.
When I study the Bible I look for personal applications or lessons to draw from it. What is more obvious here than this example of loyalty to our friends?
From Jonathan I learn the humility to admit when a friend is a rising star and will eclipse me in what I had thought was to be my own role or position. He did not resent or envy David when he realized that God intended to put David on the throne next. Nor do I think he dishonoured his own father, the king, when he went to warn David that it was not safe to come back to the palace, that his life was in danger. It was simply the right thing to do.
David honoured his friend by seeking out for anyone left from Jonathan's family to whom he could show kindness for his friend's sake. This reminds me to be kind to the family and friends of my dear friends. I may not choose them as my intimate friends, but I want to show respect to them because of my love for my close friends.
What an illustration this is of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, who gave His life so that we could come to live in His Father's Palace - in Heaven! It is possible for us to have this Prince for a friend too. He will always treat us royally and be a devoted, never failing Friend.
Do you help your friend get ahead, even at the cost of your own position, especially if you can see it is God's will? Do you honour and respect those your friend loves, for the sake of your friend, or your memories of that friend?
Say, do you have a friendship with the Prince of Peace, Jesus? Do you seek out those of His family to be kind to them?
[Note: if you missed any articles in this series of article on Friendships in the Bible, and want to read them, you'll find them all linked from this index which is about Friendship
My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, and this related site have a Friendship theme. By getting to know and follow around the heroine, Ruthe, you can learn a lot about friendships, and that there is one that is the golden key to enriching all your other friendships and making them more satisfying. The site is more like a perfumed poupouri of articles and pages on that theme, and I've started a series on the friendships we observe in the Bible and what practical insights we can gain for our own friendships by thinking about them
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Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One
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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada