Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. 1 Samuel 23:16-18a
John Donne, 16th century cleric and poet, once said “no man is an island.” His meaning is pretty clear: no one can exist by oneself; everything we do and say has an impact; we all need each other. Football is actually a very good illustration of Donne’s point. To play successfully you must play as a team. No one player alone has the ability to impact the entire outcome of the game. No, the football team needs all it’s moving (and immovable!) parts.
David’s life illustrates this well also. He traveled with 600 seasoned warriors as he ran for his life from King Saul. But the crowd you travel with doesn’t always have good advice as David discovered. (see 1 Samuel 24). But a true friend? A true friend is committed to your well being above all else! Jonathan was that friend for David. In today’s passage we see three characteristics of a true friend.
A true friend is committed to you and your well-being. Jonathan was Saul’s son and by earthly rights was next in line to inherit the throne. Even though Jonathan knew that David had already been anointed Israel’s next king and chose to be his friend anyway. And not just any friend! Jonathan had entered into a covenant relationship with David. (see 1 Samuel 20) He renews that commitment when David needs to know that he has a true friend. True friends stick with you no matter the circumstance!
A true friend also motivates courage in life’s battles. Jonathan finds David (even when his father cannot) for he is a true friend. He “encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ Jonathan reassured him.” (1 Samuel 23:16-17a) When the battles of life overtake us - the temptations we encounter, the relationship losses we endure, the difficult classes or workouts we need to complete, fill in the blank - we need a true friend who will lean in and strengthen our hearts.
And finally, a true friend speaks the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Jonathan tells David with assurance, “You are going to be the king of Israel.” When life’s battles rage the truth can be obscured. A true friend who is not afraid to speak the truth to us in love is a treasure we all need.
Where do you fit in all of this discussion? Do you have a true friend? Are you a true friend? Cultivate such friendships with someone or a few others you can trust. Cultivate the qualities of a true friend in your own life so that you can be the committed, motivating, truth-telling companion someone else needs!