A Beautiful Friendship Part One
May 21, 2023 Speaker: Allen Snapp Series: Highlights in 1st Samuel
Topic: Friendship Passage: 1 Samuel 18–20,
Highlights from 1 Samuel
Grace Community Church
May 21, 2023
A Beautiful Friendship Part One
If you have your Bibles turn with me to 1 Sam 18. This morning and next week we’re going to consider the deep friendship that developed between Jonathan and David. Let’s pause to ask God’s blessing on this time in His word. PRAY.
Recently the US surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, gave a speech on the epidemic of loneliness. It’s a real thing. Reports indicate that half of all Americans live in a state of loneliness and it’s harmful to our physical and mental health. One study found that lack of social connection is as dangerous as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Isolation hit its peak during COVID but this epidemic of loneliness began long before COVID. COVID forced us to do externally what was already happening for many people internally: isolation.
In Johann Hari’s book Lost Connections, he makes the point that loneliness isn’t just about social isolation from other people. It flows from a lack of meaningful connections. Our culture is built on individualism rather than community and many people struggle to connect relationally. And honestly, it’s gotten easier than ever to disconnect from personal relationships now that we can work remotely, entertain ourselves with endless streaming of movies and TV shows, “connect” with people all around the world on social media, and go to church in our PJ’s simply by turning on YouTube.
Sometimes even the church can be a lonely place. It’s possible for us to sit in church not knowing anyone and no one knowing us. Developing good friendships isn’t easy. It’s hard. Some people are really good at making friends, but many struggle going beyond surface friendships. And, yes, introverts probably need less people in their lives than extroverts, but we all long for and need meaningful friendships. That’s just how God made us.
Friendship is an important concept in the Bible. God calls Abraham His friend (Isa. 41:8). There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24). A friend loves at all times (Prov. 17:17). Faithful are the wounds of a friend (Prov. 27:5-6). Jesus calls his disciples friends and said greater love has no one than that he would lay down his life for his friends. Jesus then demonstrated that love by laying down his life for his friends – all those who believe.
So friendship is important to our well-being and has deep biblical roots. David and Jonathan are, I think, an example of one of the most beautiful friendships in the Bible.
We’re going to skip over a lot of verses because I want to highlight points about their friendship, but I encourage you to take the time to read chapters 18-23 to get the big picture of their friendship and all that was going on around it. Share two points this morning and two points next week.
- David and Jonathan’s friendship was built on character and a common faith in God
As soon as he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Sam 18:1
The context for this is immediately after David slew Goliath Saul is asking David about himself and his family and as David is speaking, Jonathan’s soul is knit to his soul. The NIV says Jonathan became one in spirit with David. This is the beginning of what will be a deep friendship and love between David and Jonathan.
But what was it that caused this deep sense of connectedness? I doubt that it was what David said about his family or the way he said it. With what had just happened leading up to and including what happened on the battleground as the backdrop, Jonathan saw qualities in David that resonated deeply with his own soul. Resonance is when the vibration of one object creates a vibration in another object with a similar frequency. Jonathan and David were on the same frequency!
Jonathan saw similar character qualities in David, but he also saw that David was greater. Not different, just greater.
Jonathan was a man who recklessly trusted God. He had courage. He was a great leader who inspired confidence in the men who followed him. His arms-bearer would follow him anywhere. Jonathan was a truth-teller, even speaking truth to power when he disagreed with his father the king.
But one question comes to mind: where was Jonathan when Goliath was taunting the armies of Israel? He didn’t take Goliath on. Maybe he didn’t run in fear like most of the soldiers but he didn’t run out to the battle either. That’s not a slam on Jonathan, it just speaks of the greater faith and calling on David’s life.
Jonathan heard David say who is this uncircumcised Philistine who dares to defy the armies of God? He heard him explain to Saul that he had killed both lion and bear and in the same way he would kill this giant. He watched young David walk confidently onto the same battlefield that older, hardened soldiers were too afraid to, and he watched him courageously confront and kill Goliath. Jonathan heard David’s unshakable faith in God when he told Goliath, “This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand and I will strike you down and cut off your head…for the battle is the Lord’s!”
David had more faith, more courage, more skill, and more confidence in his God than Jonathan…and Jonathan loved him for it! God’s hand was upon David more than any other man in Israel including Jonathan…and Jonathan loved him for it!
David was Israel’s champion and a foreshadow of Jesus Christ, our champion. The most important quality in a healthy friendship is that they encourage us to love Jesus more. They build up our faith, not tear it down. They inspire us to draw closer to Jesus, not lead us away from Jesus. Let character, not common interests, be the strongest glue that holds your friendship together.
Beware of bad good friends. Bad good friends are people we may enjoy being with but aren’t good influences on our character or spiritual growth. We might think, “He’s a good friend. She’s a good friend. I can be totally honest with them. We can share our hearts and be honest. We laugh at the same things. We root for the same football team. They’re my best friend.”
But if they lead you away from Jesus, if their influence is undermining your faith in Jesus, if your friendship is fueled by gossip and critical judging and mocking Christians and doubting the Bible, they are a bad good friend.
Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Cor. 15:33
The flip side of that is we never want to be a bad good friend to someone else. Let’s love everyone and be willing to befriend anyone (except an evil person), but let’s make sure our deepest friendships are built on character and a common love and faith in Jesus Christ.
- Jonathan was loyal to David when things were going against David
And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David. 2 And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.” 4 And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. 1 Sam 19:1-4
It's been said, prosperity begets friends, adversity proves them. Jonathan became David’s friend at the peak of his fame and success after killing Goliath – David’s “prosperity” – but now Saul is rallying all his men to kill David on sight. Things are looking bad for David, but Jonathan doesn’t distance himself from David. He warns David and then advocates for David to his father.
I guess one way to say it is, let’s not be fair-weather friends. I think that can happen too many times in the church. I was talking to a friend who at one point was the man everyone wanted to know. The guy everyone wanted to connect with. He led a large church and was the most highly visible person at conferences and church meetings. Then hard stuff hit his life. He lost his position. He went from highly visible profile to invisible profile. And he told me that people he once thought were his friends stopped calling. Stopped reaching out. He wasn’t bitter, he knew they felt awkward, didn’t know what to say, but the result was that when he needed friends most, some walked away. But there were some who stuck with him. By the grace of God, let’s aim to be that kind of friend.
I think one reason the church (speaking generally) has a reputation for shooting its own is because we can mistakenly think that we’re being holy and hating sin when we refuse to fellowship with a brother or sister caught in sin or failing in some way. Unless that brother or sister is being divisive or promoting immorality or ungodliness in some way, the Bible tells us to gently seek to restore them. Jesus went after the one straying sheep. The father longed for the return of his prodigal son. We were all sinners and lost, and Jesus came for us. The church should be a healing and safe place for hurting and struggling people.
Even more insidious are the kind of “friends” who hitch their wagon to those on their way up, hoping
they can take them up with them, but unhitch the minute the wagon is heading down. Jonathan didn’t love David’s fame or success, he loved David.
People who love you when everything’s going great aren’t your best friends. It’s those who love you and are loyal as friends when you hit a rough patch that are your best friends. And God wants us to be loyal . Loyal in hard times is definitely something we want in a friend so we should seek to be that as a friend.
Here’s a helpful question I think we all should honestly ask ourselves: am I the kind of friend I would want to have?
We’ll continue our look at David and Jonathan’s friendship next week, but let’s close by considering how this applies to our lives:
- Jesus is a friend to us and calls us to be a friend to him. Loving each other is how we do that!
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you… 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus laid down his life for his friends, then he calls us to do the same for one another. You are my friends if you do what I command. What does he command? Love each other.
The ultimate reason for building friendships and fellowship with one another, the ultimate reason for working towards loving, loyal friendships in the church isn’t for our mental, physical or spiritual health. We do need and benefit greatly by it, but how we feel or benefit isn’t the ultimate reason we meet together as the church and work to connect with other believers. It’s obedience to Christ’s command. And obedience to Christ’s command is how we love Christ. Not me saying that, it’s Jesus saying that.
If loneliness is disconnection, Jesus says friendship is connectedness to him. Abide in me. Connect to me. Then he commands us to connect with one another. This is my command, love each other. Let’s renew our commitment to love Jesus by loving one another! God wants to use other believers to strengthen your faith and walk, and He wants to use you to strengthen someone else’s faith and walk.
- Get together with other Christians. Have someone over for a bbq or get together for coffee.
- Consider getting plugged into church life more than just Sunday morning. Community group, prayer meeting, men’s meeting, workdays. If there’s a context we don’t have that you’d like to see happen, let us know and we might be able to help that happen.
- Finally, we are looking for more volunteers. We call it Many Hands – many hands make light work. Find one place where you are able to help out, sign up, and enjoy the blessing of serving.
More in Highlights in 1st Samuel
June 4, 2023God’s Work in the Wilderness Part One
May 28, 2023A Beautiful Friendship Part Two
May 14, 2023The Torment of Jealousy