In a world filled with confusion about what a healthy, flourishing, and godly friendship looks like, we are given a tremendous example in the friendship of David and Jonathan. In I Samuel chapters 18-20, several key attributes emerge as being foundational for a great friendship. Though we may not be able to implement all these traits in every relationship, we can focus on a few of them for our closest ones.
First, you can love your friend like you love yourself. In I Samuel 18:1 we read, “After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” On a side note, it’s important to note that David was one in spirit with Jonathan and not in body. Secondly, you can defend your friend by what you say and do for them. We see this example in Chapter 19:4-5, “Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him,’ Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. He took his life in his hands when he killed the Philistine. The Lord won a great victory for all Israel, and you saw it and were glad. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason.” Finally, you can pray and hope for the best for your friend. Jonathan said the following about David in I Samuel 20:13, “May the Lord be with you as he has been with my father.”
In these three friendship traits, love, support, and prayer are highlighted as part of the beauty of the David and Jonathan friendship. There are several more traits that could be listed but even these can challenge us to ask a few relevant questions:
Do we prioritize our close friends similarly to how we prioritize ourselves? I’m sure we do, but maybe we can spend a little more time holding the ladder for others than climbing it ourselves.
Do we take every opportunity possible to speak well and positively about other people, especially those we call “friends in our inner circle?” Let’s try harder to defending those we love, than joining in on any critical comments made about them.
Do we take a minute of our day to encourage and pray for those whom God has given us as friends? Why not take a minute right now and text one of your friends with a word of hope, encouragement, or prayer.
May God help us form and cultivate the kind of friendship exemplified by David and Jonathan in I Samuel 18-20. The world is starving for true friendships, so let’s show them how to have one.
Donny Crandell is Interim Pastor at Gardnerville Crossroads Church of the Nazarene