While studying 1 Samuel I have been absolutely fascinated by this little known character, his name is Jonathan. I'm a pastor's kid so I grew up reading the Bible over and over again. I have read the story of David and Jonathan many times before. But for the first time as I have been studying I've really caught on to what an amazing man of God, Jonathan was. I love how scripture can do that. You can read something twenty times and the twenty first time you feel like you understand it for the first time. It truly proves to me that scripture is living and breathing.
So who is this Jonathan ?
I want us to put ourselves in Jonathan's shoes and really picture the life he lived because that will make his friendship with David mean so much more.
Jonathan was Saul’s son and heir to Israel’s throne. He was going to be king. I wonder how I might have lived my life if I knew one day I would be king. It’s pretty hard for us to imagine. But imagine growing up as Prince William. There is a ton of pressure but there is also a lot of perks. You can buy anything you want, you can have any woman you want, you can get away with anything. I really want you guys to understand the life that Jonathan lived. That he didn’t owe David anything, there was no reason for him to treat David the way he did. There were people a lot cooler and more elite than David that Jonathan could have chose to be his friend. I mean David was a Shepard and Jonathan was the future King.
Let’s read the passage.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in sprit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. 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.”
I have read this verse so many times and have never caught on to the true act of friendship Jonathan was showing to David.
1. There is nothing in these chapters in 1 Samuel that discuss David’s love for Jonathan. I’m sure David loved Jonathan but the writer of first Samuel wanted to make sure we understood that David did nothing to earn this friendship from Jonathan. Friendship should be like that. We can't expect anything in return from those we call "friends" now it is important to have friends who build you up as well, but that does not mean not being friends with those who might only be "take" friends. They are important too, and loving them the way Jesus would is likely what they need in the "take" season of their life.
2. In the old testament when you made a covenant there were three acts that made it solemn covenant before God. It required a Sign, a Sacrifice and a Solemn oath. The solemn oath was to love David as himself. The Sign was giving his tunic etc. But the sacrifice is the biggest part of all. The sacrifice was giving up his hopes of becoming King. See Jonathan knew that David had been anointed so in the act of giving David his tunic, he was symbolizing giving David his birthright as heir to Israel's throne. This meant loving and supporting David knowing that God had chosen HIM to be king instead of Jonathan. That’s giving up a lot. I don’t know if I would be willing to give my future kingdom over to my friend because that was what God wanted. That is a huge amount of sacrifice.
So I’ve been challenging myself to become more like Jonathan. And I’ve been studying what it means to be a godly friend like he was. God calls us to sacrifice much in the act of friendship. None of us can give up an actual kingdom to a friend but there are a lot of other things we can sacrifice to show others God's love.
So why is it important to be a godly friend and to have godly friends?
Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 says: “It’s better to have a partner than go at it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. If one falls down, the other helps, but is there is not one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”
Proverbs 13:20 says “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.”
So who are our friends? If God calls us to sacrifice much to be godly friends who should we be friends too? There is this rotten verse that can really mess our lives up in a good way if we take what it says and apply it to who our friends are.
Matthew 25:31-46 "When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:
I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room, I was shivering and you gave me clothes, I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me.'Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because I was hungry and you gave me not meal, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was homeless and you gave me no bed, I was shivering and you gave me no clothes, Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?' He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward.
I wish I could tell you guys that being a Christian is easy, but if we take what the Bible commands us seriously being a Christian is hard, and it requires a ton of sacrifice and we don't always get to go the fun easy way. But the rewards are really great, they might not be on earth but heaven will be pretty kick butt.
So what can we practically sacrifice to be a godly friend and how do you go about it?
1. Prayer. Pray for your friend and there needs but also pray for yourself that you will be a godly friend full of love and patience. Take time out of your day to spend with the Lord lifting not only your requests up to him but also the requests of those in your life. Our prayer lives need to have a lot less "I need" in them. It is important to bring our requests before God but we cannot forget those around us who have needs.
2. Effort. It sounds so cheesy but making the first move to reach out to someone who is hurting. Always being willing to talk when they need a helping hand. Tell them your praying for them. Leave a note of encouragement in their locker. This will mean sacrificing our comfort sometimes and doing something that makes us feel weird or awkward to reach out to our "friends."
3. Avoid godless chatter. 2 Timothy 2:16 says “Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.” When our friends are saying things that we don't want to partake it, it will take sacrifice to walk away or tell them you don't need to say mean things about others. It won't be easy but its a huge part of being a godly friend. Keeping our friends trust is hugely important, and something we need to value.
4. Never encourage your friend in wrong doings. Be the one to "sit out" with your friends instead of encouraging them to "join in."
5. It means loving your friend even when you don’t want to or they don’t deserve it. Sometimes our friends won't make it easy but that doesn't give us an excuse to love them any less. Unfortunately we will still be held accountable for how we treat people in spite of how they treat us. Sometimes it's easy to excuse our actions because of what someone did BUT God doesn't see that as a good enough excuse. He sees it as sin.
6. A godly friend says hard things sometimes. You might need to tell your friend that they are doing something sinful and be a partner in accountability. This isn’t easy but it is a huge part in being a good friend. It will build trust and communication if you can be honest in all situations.