Summary: The friendship of David and Joshua is one of the closest in the Bible. From it, we learn that true friends love as they love themselves, sacrifice for the good of the other, and protect one another. If you want a friend, be a friend!

1 Samuel 17:57-18:4

Best Friends Forever

Have you ever had a BFF? A “best friend forever?” Or better yet, a BFFL? A “best friend for life?” Or in short form, a “bestie?” Someone who knows you better than you know yourself? I saw a quote this week: “We are going to be best friends forever... besides you already know too much.” Or this one: “As your best friend, I'll always pick you up when you fall, after I finish laughing.” Or Bruce White, who says, “Friends are what God gives you to make up for your family.”

Everybody needs a friend. God said it’s not good for man to be alone. The context of that verse, of course, was the creation of Eve, a life partner for Adam. Marriage at its finest is a partnership of best friends. But sometimes you may have that non-romantic friendship, just a friend, but oh what a friend they are. Someone who really gets you, who really knows you, and somehow still likes you!

One of the most beautiful pictures of friendship in the Bible is Jonathan and David. In their relationship, we see love. We see protection. We see sacrifice. We see all the elements of a healthy, strong, lifelong friendship. Consider from them what it means to be a true friend. First, ...

True friends ...

1. Love as they love themselves

Today’s scripture comes right after David kills Goliath. King Saul had just finished debriefing David. Jonathan may have been listening, observing this young shepherd boy who placed all his faith in Almighty God, the one who can bring down giants with a single stone. Something about David captures his interest, and the two begin an unlikely friendship: one destined for the throne according to human wisdom and one destined for the throne according to divine promise. The NIV doesn’t capture the richness of the word used to describe the oneness of this friendship. Look at the verse on your outline, 1 Samuel 18:1, in the Berean Study Bible: “After David had finished speaking with Saul, the souls of Jonathan and David were knit together, and Jonathan loved him as himself.” 1 Samuel 18:1 (Berean Bible)

Their souls were “knit together.” Another translation of the Hebrew word is “bound up” or “knotted together.” Aristotle once described friends as “one soul.”

What binds them together? True friends love you as they love themselves. That’s authentic love. It’s covenantal love, the same word used in the Bible to describe nations binding together in covenants of peace. It’s also used to describe the nation of Israel’s love for David when he later becomes king. It reminds me of Jesus’s second great commandment, to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27), which he said is very much like the first: to love the Lord your God. When you love someone as you love yourself, you are very close to loving God. True friends love as they love themselves, and #2, true friends ...

2. Sacrifice for one another

Chapters 18, 19, and 20 describe a covenant Jonathan makes with David. As the prince, the lawful heir to the throne of Israel, Jonathan must initiate this covenant, because it includes not only mutual protection over each other’s descendants, but also surrender of his right of succession to David. Look at 1 Samuel 18:3-4: “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 18:3-4)

Earlier, King Saul had tried to outfit David in his own armor, before David faced Goliath on the battlefield. David said it didn’t fit, and returned it to the king. Now, in an act rich with symbolism, the king’s son outfits David with the son’s royal armor and weapon, signifying that David will inherit the throne. And this time David takes it. An earlier scripture recorded that the only two people with weapons in all of Israel were the king and the king’s son (1 Samuel 13:22). Now David figuratively becomes the king’s son, Saul’s successor to the throne. What an act of selflessness for Jonathan to give up his destiny to follow God’s plan!

Real friends sacrifice for one another. They do what is best for the other. That is how friendships are built over time. It’s important in marriage. And it’s important in friendship. And #3, real friends ...

3. Protect one another

Chapters 19 and 20 detail Saul’s rapid decline into paranoia and homicidal anger. Listen to the first three verses of 1 Samuel 19: “Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, ‘My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.’” 1 Samuel 19:1-3

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