Friend – the word has been defined in the last decade by the explosion of social media. My Facebook™ account says that I have about 1800 ‘friends.’ Many of those are just acquaintances, people whose names I know. Are they really ‘friends’ however? Only a few dozen are people that I could call in a crisis or with whom I share my life which is closer to how I would define real friendship.
How thankful I am for real friends. Who am I today is the result of connections with so many throughout the years. Some were part of my life for a season, others for a lifetime. Some are close to me personally, others are part of ministry. My prayer is that I am contributing to the lives of others as richly as so many have contributed to mine.
There is a friendship recorded in the Bible that moves my emotions when I read about it. It is the record of David and Jonathan. Most know nothing of Jonathan but David’s exploits are famous. He was the shepherd boy whose encounter with Goliath, the Philistine champion, made him famous in ancient Israel. He moved into King Saul’s residence to play his harp and sing to soothe the king but also continued to gain fame as a military leader of skill.
As David’s fame grew so so did the jealousy of King Saul and it drove him mad – literally! Enter Jonathan, the crown prince of Israel. Without Jonathan, David may not have survived. This young man, though he knew David would likely take his place as king, was a true friend. “After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends.” (1 Samuel 18:1, NLT)
When Saul grew increasingly irrational, he spoke of killing David. Jonathan, though he had much to gain by David’s death, risked his father’s wrath by telling David about the plot. “Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his close friendship with David, told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.” (1 Samuel 19:1-3, NLT)
The prince confronted the king to make an impassioned defense of David. “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?” (1 Samuel 19:4-5, NIV)
When the Philistines killed Saul and Jonathan in battle, David’s response was largely because of his love for Jonathan. “Then David composed a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan. … “Your pride and joy, O Israel, lies dead on the hills! How the mighty heroes have fallen! … How beloved and gracious were Saul and Jonathan! They were together in life and in death. They were swifter than eagles; they were stronger than lions.” (2 Samuel 1:23, NLT) His connection to Jonathan, even in death, went beyond words. In a time when the family of a previous dynasty were generally killed to prevent conspiracies and rebellions, David took in Jonathan’s surviving relatives and cared for them like his own family!
There is a little phrase tucked into one of Paul’s letters that captures my attention. He addresses a friend in Philippi, asking him to help two women in the church there to get along. This anonymous person is simply called “loyal yokefellow.” He was a friend on whom Paul could rely, a person of loyalty, one who shared the weight of the burden of ministry. I hope there are those who would refer to me as a loyal yokefellow!
Are you a “Jonathan” to someone,
caring and loving, even at cost to yourself?
Do you have a “Jonathan” in your life,
someone who has your best interest always in mind?
Are you an opportunistic friend,
only befriending those who can bring some benefit to you in the moment?
Are you a loyal friend who speaks up
in defense of another when gossip arises?
Are you a friend for all times,
equally faithful when your friend is up or down?
Solomon cynically declares what we all know, “Wealth brings many friends, but a poor man’s friend deserts him.” (Proverbs 19:4, NIV) What a contrast to the true friendship we are blessed to give and to find. A true friend “loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17, NIV)
There’s a Jonathan for you!
Finding that friend requires risk, openness, and giving friendship.
And never forget the most loyal, true Friend – Jesus Christ! He knows you best and loves you most. Anchor your heart in that love. Be secure in Him and it will make you a better friend to others.
The word from the Word come from the book of Ecclesiastes, the “Preacher.” May they inspire us to seek friends and to be a true friend.
“Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, NLT)
Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
Can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter in your life is through
But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong
And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends
With the faith and love God’s given
Springing from the hope we know
We will pray the joy you’ll live in
Is the strength that now you show
No a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends
Deborah D. Smith | Michael W. Smith © 1982 Meadowgreen Music Company (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)
CCLI License # 810055