One of the greatest friendships we find in the Bible was that of David and Jonathan. From them we can learn what makes friendships work well. Both of them were soldiers and they appreciated weapons and strategy. In 1 Sam.18:4, Jonathan gave his sword and bow to David as a gift; very personal items. It’s the things people have in common that bring them together. It can be something as engaging as soldiers in the army, or something as simple as an interest in gardening.
These two men quickly found themselves in a tricky situation: Jonathan’s father, king Saul, was jealous of David and wanted to execute him. Friendship was tested by the complications that followed. Jonathan knew David was innocent of any deceit, so he stood by him in loyalty. Good friends do that for each other when difficulties strike. Loyalty should never waver between good friends. However, in real life we often suffer the pain of losing a good friend; loyalty can vanish sometimes. But the world is full of interesting people open to friendship and we may simply need to open up to them, putting the pain of prior friendships on the back burner. Never forget a friend even if they have turned their back on you. If you’re lucky, they may return someday.
If you read the last few chapters of 1 Samuel, you’ll find that Jonathan sacrificed for his friend David, who had a death sentence on his head. They sometimes met secretly to check on each other, challenge each other, and figure out what to do next. Jonathan would have suffered severely if his father found out. Strong friendships don’t mind sacrificing for each other. If you haven’t had a friend like that, maybe you should find ways to sacrifice for others. As someone once said, to have a friend you’ve got to be a friend.
Of all the things that help friendships flourish, there needs to be a strong common-denominator of conviction. Both David and Jonathan loved God and wanted to serve Him with all their hearts. This one over-riding quality gave these men the best foundation to stand on. It furnished them both with humility, common-sense, direction, and courage. Great friendships are built on faith in God and appreciation for each other.
There’s a tragic end to the story of David and Jonathan: the latter died in battle (1 Sam.31). David mourned for him and wrote his thoughts down in a piece called “The Song of the bow” (2 Sam.1). When David became king he honored his friend Jonathan by caring for the man’s handicapped son for the rest of his life (2 Sam.9). Real friendships are never forgotten.
– Tim Johnson