Summary: Part 5 of a series entitled "Insights from the Life of David"

Why is it such a compliment to tell a woman she looks like a breath of spring, but not to tell her she looks like the end of hard winter? Isn’t it the same thing?

Why does it please a woman to say time stands still when you look into her face, but not to say her face would stop a clock?

Why do people punish a child for lying and yet tell the same child, "Just say I’m not home."

Why, when the preacher says, "In closing..." doesn’t he?

Why does a speaker who "needs no introduction" get one anyway?

It seems curious. Of all the things that peak my curiosity and cause me to stop and wonder, one of the questions that I simply have not been able to come up with an answer to is why so many people are looking for meaningful relationships and yet so few actually find them. It seems everyone wants a friend, but few people actually have real “friends.” We are becoming an increasingly private society and it seems that fewer people than ever actually have life-long intimate friends any more.

Statistics tell us that most people are lucky if they have one “close friend” in their lifetime. And with the fact that Americans are moving from place to place more now than ever before it becomes very difficult to make and keep such a friend.

As we continue in our series Insights from the Life of David, this week our text is the story of David and Jonathan, true friends. What we discover in this week’s scripture lesson is a relationship that most of us could only hope to have. A intimate friendship.

As I began my studies this week I looked to Webster to see how he defined a friend. I like the second definition under the word friend, it’s in your outlines: a friend is “a person on the same side in a struggle; one who is not an enemy or foe; ally.”

A British publication once offered a prize for the best definition of a friend. Among the thousands of answers received were the following:

- “One who multiplies joys, divides grief, and whose honesty is inviolable.”

- “One who understands our silence.”

- “A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.”

- “A watch that beats for all time and never runs down.”

The winning definition read: “A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”[1]

Isn’t that the truth? By that definition most of us have many acquaintances but few if any real friends. That’s what leads us to our story this week: David had a friend who like that definition came in when the world had gone out.

Last week, you’ll remember our story turned to a rather difficult time in David’s life. Things had been real good for a while: as a teenager he had been anointed as the next King, he had killed Goliath, he had been working in the King’s Court and he had been very successful in his leadership of the King’s military. But the more successful he became the more King Saul despised him, to the point where the King tried to kill David. David had escaped the King’s attempts at murder more than once and as of our reading this week he’s on the run.

We don’t know for sure when David wrote the words of the 23rd Psalm, but you’ve got to wonder if it was during this time, because in verse 4 of that Psalm he says, “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” At this point David was in grave danger. The King had a contract out on him. This time in his life was more than likely the worst thing he had ever faced.

Some of you know what he felt like. I’m talking about those valleys in our lives that take us lower than we’ve ever been before. The ones where we feel as if we just can’t go on and that the whole world has caved in on us. Some of you are there now.

It was during this period of David’s life that God showed his faithfulness and his love for David by providing Jonathan, a true friend.

The beginning of our scripture lesson today introduced us to Jonathan, King Saul’s Son, who immediately took a liking to David and we’re told, was bound to his soul. As you’ll see in the next few minutes, God used Jonathan to meet the needs of David as he journeyed through this dark valley.

One of the things that’s amazing about this entire story is that while the hatred of Saul for David was growing every day, David was surrounded by others who loved him. We’re told that the Israelites loved him, that the King’s son Jonathan loved him, and that the King’s daughter loved him (in fact, when the text says in I Samuel 18:20 that Saul’s daughter Michal loved David, it’s the only place in the Hebrew scripture where a woman is said to love a man). In the midst of this darkest hour of David’s life, while Saul’s hatred for David burned within him, everyone else was growing more and more fond of David.

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Steve Dewalt

commented on Dec 22, 2006

My daughter still remembers a college student who made friends with her during the Crop Walk this fall. She is sad she will never see this friend again, but we used this moment to remind her that sometimes that is what it takes to be a friend: being friendly with people, even if you may never see them again. I hope this advice helps the people you mention who want to have friends, but do not have any (or many) real friends: "If you need a friend, be a friend."

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