I just concluded reading John MacArthur's newest book called: "Twelve Unlikely Heroes: How God Commissioned Unexpected People in the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You." (You can read my review of the book here on the blog or go here) Such a great book!
One of the chapters that I particularly liked (and one that was also a little convicting!) was the story about Jonathan, son of King Saul and closest friend of David. Many of us may remember the story told of Jonathan and David's friendship from Sunday School; however now as an adult, this narrative gave me some new perspective on friendship.
After King Saul had disobeyed God and young David was annointed as the next king, David, already an adept musician, was employed to be Saul's musical "therapist"; playing the harp for him when he was distressed. Shortly afterward, David steps forward to kill the taunting Goliath and it was after this event that David was asked to live permanently in the palace (no doubt so Saul could keep an eye on him). He later married Saul's daughter and became a leader in the nation's army as well. Things were going well, until David's success and popularity with the people threatened Saul so much that he decided to kill David.
During all this drama was Jonathan. He was no doubt an eye witness to the killing of Goliath and recognized that God's favor was upon David. This prince, very much unlike his own father, saw a kindred spirit in David while he lived at the palace. I Samuel 18:1 describes their deep and unusual friendship: "The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." They were soul mates, or the first "bro-mance." When Saul made his death threat against him, David knew that he would have an ally in Jonathan because they had made a covenant of loyalty with each other (I Samuel 18:3) Jonathan interceded on David's behalf, but Saul was resolved to end David's life.
David became a fugitive, and was on the run for his life. However, Jonathan still was able to find ways to encourage his friend as he did in I Samuel 23:17: "Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that."
What was impressed upon me was not just how this friendship was extraordinary, but that Jonathan had a fierce loyalty to David, even though he knew that he would not inherit the throne from his father Saul. There was no animosity, no jealousy. He humbly continued to support and uplift David, even telling him that when David took the throne, he would be there beside him as continual support. Jonathan truly loved David and had no earthly agenda with David's friendship. He "did not merely accept his non-kingly role; he embraced it wholeheartedly -- eagerly protecting and promoting the one whom God had appointed to be king instead of him." (MacArthur, Pg. 104)
Today I believe we treat loyalty and friendship in itself far too loosely, especially when it comes to our own success and accomplishments. Through TV reality shows, the workplace and other situations, we witness how those who say they are "BFF's" will turn on each other with gossip and antagonism when one has something good happen to them. Competition and jealousy take over, and the friends will take sides with other people dragged intp the drama in order to push forward their own agenda. How can that be called friendship?
Paul the Apostle tells us how to be a real friend in Colossians 3:12-14: "....clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony."
Why not take time this week to contact a friend that you haven't talked to in a long time with a handwritten note or phone call (no texting or Facebooking allowed!) Or if the Lord has impressed on your heart someone from your past, look for them through Facebook and reconnect!