The secret of true friendship


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1 Samuel 20 – 23; Psalm 34, 57, 142, 52

There has never been a more wonderful story of friendship than the one between David and Jonathan. David was a shepherd and a hero as he killed Goliath, the giant from Gath that had offended the God of Israel. David had been anointed by Samuel as king because the Lord had rejected Saul for his disobedience. The story reveals that it’s  going to take a few years before David can become king, as Saul continues to reign with a rod of iron. But Saul would not the only obstacle to the throne. Jonathan is Saul’s son and the rightful heir to the throne of Israel. I can find many reasons why David and Jonathan would hate each other and yet their friendship is stronger and deeper than brotherhood. 

Immediately after David kills Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 we see Saul growing extremely jealous while Jonathan makes a solemn pact with David. Twice in the following chapters we read that Jonathan loves David “as he loved himself”. At first, this seems unusual and it is when you come to think about who they are: Jonathan is the heir to the throne while David is God’s choice for the throne. Their friendship seems strange and yet I find it very normal. Let me explain!

In Leviticus 19 the Lord gives Moses wonderful instructions concerning the Law. When you have time please read this chapter, it will give you a wonderful perspective of what life is. In verse 18 we read: “Do not seek revenge and bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbour as yourself. I am the Lord.” The same theme is picked up by Jesus in the Gospels (Matthew 19: 19; 22: 39; Mark 12: 31; Luke 10: 27), by Paul in his epistles (Romans 13: 9; Galatians 5: 14) and also by James, the brother of Jesus (James 2: 8).

The fact that this command is so extensively developed in  the New Testament must warn us that we should pay close attention to it. This is the most important ingredient to a true friendship and as we seek to have true friends let’s make sure we listen to what Jesus calls the second most important command. Jonathan knew the Law very well and because he was faithful to God he was able to apply it to David. You see, it take two for a true friendship to grow. Those two must be committed to obey God and His Word. Obedience to God is the secret to a true friendship. Personalities and temperaments, common hobbies and passions are always secondary to a true friendship.

The friendship between David and Jonathan is not special because they had things in common. There were too many things that would motivate them to hate each other rather than be friends. What makes their friendship special is the fact that both are willing to obey God when He says: “love your neighbour as yourself.” Their love for God was far greater than their personal interests. Their obedience to God made them be faithful to each other, even when Saul (Jonathan’s father) makes statements aimed at bringing jealousy between them. In 1 Samuel 20 verse 30 Saul becomes angry with Jonathan when he finds out he is protecting David. I cannot believe these words come from a father addressing his son: “You stupid son of a whore! …Do you think I don’t know that you want him to be king in your place, shaming yourself and your mother? As long as the son of Jesse is alive, you’ll never be king. Now go and get him so I can kill him!”

What would your choices be in this case? You see, in true friendship when obedience to God is the most important thing in your life, circumstances or people have no influence in your decision making process. You know one thing: I must obey God. This is true love, the driving force of a true friendship.

Here is the challenge friends. If you want to have true friends you must become friendly in the real sense of the word. You must commit yourself to obey God and His Word. Then you will notice that you’re treating others in a very respectful and loving way, all because you love and obey God. Choose your friends wisely. Remember the secret of true friendship is obedience to God, nothing more!

Tags: Faith Friendship Obedience

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