Along the lines of what I wrote in my previous post on this topic, another one of the pictures that comes to my head when I contemplate friendship is Jonathan.
He’s the son of King Saul & eventual best friend of David – his story can be found starting about 1Samuel 14, & runs through the rest of the book. Several things stand out to me about Jonathan, as revealed by his actions, both in public & also when there’s no one around to pat him on the back for what he does/doesn’t do.
Jonathan is the son of a king, a prince, the crown prince actually, meaning that he is next in line for the throne in Israel – he’s brave, bold (check out 1Samuel 14:1-14 for some insight to the kind of guy he was.) When David killed Goliath, Jonathan’s whole world changed – it was evident that God was with David, & Jonathan knew that Samuel the prophet had told his father, Saul, that the kingdom had been taken from the family, & given to another… watching David’s fearless onslaught on the giant & the subsequent battle against the Philistines (ch.17), it didn’t take a genius to put two & two together: David was the Lord’s anointed, the one who would supplant Saul (& Saul’s descendants) on the throne, ruling as king over Israel. Which should have made Jonathan as paranoid, antagonistic, & suspicious of David as his dad was.
But it didn’t.
We see in 1Samuel 18 that an immediate bond of friendship developed between David & Jonathan – so much so, that Jonathan & David made a covenant, an unbreakable agreement of friendship & devotion, a covenant that was sealed with Jonathan giving David his royal robes & clothes, his sword (1 of 2 in the country, 13:22) his bow, & his belt. This is significant because the items that Jonathan gave away to David were things that marked Jonathan & his position as royalty – something that he willing laid down in recognition of God’s call & anointing on David’s life – to be the next king of Israel, a title that by all intents was meant for Jonathan. Most significantly, ch.18 says he did this because, “Jonathan loved David as he loved himself.” Further, the covenant of friendship was renewed 2 more times in 1Samuel 20 & 23, cementing the lifelong commitment between the men & their descendants forever.
A few of the more prominent characteristics I see emerging from the picture of Jonathan: loyalty & faithfulness, even when it cost him everything; backing up his kind words & declarations of friendship with his actions; defending his friend when his friend wasn’t around, even though doing so put his own life in jeopardy; he was able to rejoice with David when David had successes, & to grieve with him over the injustice of Saul’s attacks against him.
I see a self-lessness; a commitment to another person that doesn’t personally, financially, or materially benefit him; there’s no one-upmanship, no competition; no slander, no undermining, no attacking his character or attempting to elevate himself.
Jonathan is the kind of friend that I want to be, & that I want to contend for for myself.