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1 Samuel 18:14; 19:47; 20:8, 1213; 23:1618comment (0)

October 16, 2008

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 18:14; 19:47; 20:8, 1213; 23:1618

Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Samuel 18:1–4; 19:4–7; 20:8, 12–13; 23:16–18

Men are generally more task-oriented than relationship-oriented. A majority of women seem to be wired the other way around. Few men develop healthy, God-centered relationships with other men. Surface relationships are easy.
Genuine friendships require risk: honesty, transparency, vulnerability. Few men take the time to develop or are willing to pay the price of true friendship with other men.

David developed a healthy relationship with Saul’s son Jonathan. Though Saul had become jealous of David’s popularity after the defeat of Goliath, Jonathan had no animosity toward David. They trusted each other with their lives. As we review this relationship, let us consider the words of Jesus: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Commit to Your Friends (18:1–4)
Saul’s family was already aware of David. The young musician had been called upon to sing for King Saul during times of spiritual attack. David had also attempted to wear Saul’s enormous armor in preparation for facing Goliath. 
In the chapter at hand, the writer introduced the friendship between David and Jonathan. The relationship is characterized by love as in the “friend that stays closer than a brother” of Proverbs 18:24. They established a covenant with each other, signifying that they committed their lives and their belongings to each other’s care.

Defend Your Friends (19:4–7)
The king was becoming more and more desperate to rid himself of David. He announced David was to be put to death. Jonathan determined to protect his friend. He warned David of Saul’s intentions, told David he would be updated with any new developments and told his father the plot was wrong. David was willing to risk his life facing Goliath, and yet Saul was plotting to have him killed?

To what extent are you willing to defend your friends? Warning them of impending danger is important, even if they do not want to hear it. Speaking up for them is risky, especially with the risk of your friends’ enemy changing his attitude toward you. Fortunately for Jonathan, that did not happen. Helping to restore your friend’s honor is critical, if possible. For David, he was restored momentarily to a trusted position in Saul’s court due to Jonathan’s intervention.

Help Your Friends (20:8, 12–13)

The family affair became evermore complicated. Saul attempted to kill David again. Michal risked her life, protecting her husband, David, from her own father by allowing him to escape. Then Jonathan reassured David their friendship was intact and fair warning would be given should there be another attempt on David’s life. While David was comforted by Jonathan’s commitment, he wanted assurances there would be no more attempts at reconciliation with Saul. Last time, David had a spear sticking through the wall near his head. If anyone was going to kill David, then it might as well be Jonathan. Their covenant relationship was a serious bond before the Lord, so David stated if he were guilty of wrongdoing, then Jonathan had the right to take his life. In the latter verses, Jonathan responded by calling down God’s curse upon himself if he did not help David.

Encourage Your Friends (23:16–18)
Saul continued to pursue and David escaped each time, hiding among the Philistines and taking refuge among the priests. For all of Saul’s time and energy on this demonic rampage, the anointed son of Jesse continually slipped through his fingers.

Jonathan’s friendship is reintroduced, marking the transition from David the outlaw to David, heir to the throne.
From this point forward, he would be the pursuer instead of the pursued. Jonathan basically came to tell David, “Everyone, including Dad, knows you are going to be king.” This word of encouragement was just what David needed.

Personally I hate flattery. The Proverbs tell us flattery is self-serving and deceitful. But  encouragement is always welcome. Be a real friend and encourage someone today.

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