Summary: We need to be and have Christian friends who sacrifice, and encourage us in the Lord.
What are two of the most popular comedies in syndication (reruns) on television right now? Seinfeld and Friends. Why do these shows continue to be so popular even after the show has ended? Is it because they are so well written and funny? Well probably. But it is interesting that they share something in common, both shows revolve around the friendships of a small group of people. Maybe I’m reading more into the show than it deserves, but I believe the reason the show maintains its popularity is not only because of its humor but because it connects with people’s deeper desire, the desire to connect with another person or person’s who will stick with us, who will be there for us through the good, the bad, and the ugly. In other words, a friend. Deep down, whether we realize it or not, we have a need for friendships. God has wired us to need real meaningful relationships with himself first, and with other people. But God hasn’t just wired us to need just any kind of friendship because most of us have friends. The kind of friend God wants us to have is a friend like Jonathan, who demonstrates what a true friendship is like.
We continue in our summer series on “Lessons from the Life of David” with the extraordinary friendship between David and Jonathan. Prior to our passages this morning, the boy David had just killed the Philistine giant Goliath and was brought before King Saul. In our first verse this morning, David had just finished talking with Saul about his victory, and for the first time it mentions the friendship between David and King Saul’s son, Jonathan. Although David and Jonathan probably already knew each other because David had served in Saul’s court, there is no indication that prior to this occasion they had become friends. The passage doesn’t explain how they met, over what occasion, or how they first became friends. It just tells us that “Jonathan’s soul became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. The imagery is of tying two cords together. The same word is used by God in his instructing the Israelites to bind His word upon their forehead and their hands. If we apply that concept to the knitting together of David’s and Jonathan’s souls it is a picture of an inseparable bond between friends.
In verse 3, it goes on to say that Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him. A covenant is an like a promise, however it differs from a promise in that it is never meant to be broken, like a marriage vow, or like God’s covenant he made with Abraham and Moses, the eternal promises God made. The Bible doesn’t tell us what the covenant David and Jonathan made, but I can imagine it is like the covenant childhood friends share together, a covenant to be friends forever.
1. A True Friend is Willing to Sacrifice
After Jonathan made a covenant with David, he demonstrated his commitment to friendship with David by giving him things which were very personal to him. In 18:4 it says:
NIV 1 Samuel 18:4 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.
Jonathan gave David his robe, which would have been a royal robe, given only to the crown prince. Jonathan’s sword, bow, and belt, would have symbolized his power. Jonathan was making a sacrifice to demonstrate to his friend that nothing would get in the way of their friendship including his status as prince, his reputation, or even his family as we will see. Jonathan had a lot more to lose in his friendship with David than David did with Jonathan. Jonathan was the prince, David was only a shepherd boy. Jonathan came from an influential family with wealth. David came from a modest family with no influence.
Later Jonathan sacrificed more than just his robe and armor, he put his own life in danger to defend David before King Saul, when King Saul wanted to kill David. On one occasion Jonathan had to dodge a spear thrown by his father Saul because Jonathan defended David. Which brings us to our first characteristic of a true friend, a true friend is willing to sacrifice for the friendship.
Sometimes being a true Christian friend means we need to make sacrifices for our friends. Are we willing to share things which are very important to us? Are we willing to go a second mile with a friend when they are going through difficult times? A true Christian friend is unselfish and willing to share of themselves with others.