Saturday, July 18, 2015

He Who Has Friends

    So, this week has been crazy. It's been one of those weeks of going to bed very late and getting up early and running all day. I'm finally trying to get out my first longer post of the week tonight at 10:30, so pardon my jumbled thoughts. These are just thoughts that have spun around in my head a bit this last week, and I haven't had time to put them down. So bare with me here.

    My best friend just moved 2000 miles away last month. The move and the added difficulty in communication has made me stop and think more about friendships and what it means to be a friend than probably ever before. And first in my mind is the friendship of David with Jonathan.

    All of us want a friend like David and Jonathan, someone who will stick with you through the toughest of times against all odds. But in today's culture, when a "friend" is anyone who you happen to have shaken hands with or clicked "yes" to their friend request on Facebook, trying to build a strong friendship can be hard!

    Keep in mind most of what I say in this post is not Biblical command. This is simply a topic that I'm looking at a particular story in the Bible for ideas about, rather than commands to obey. So please don't read this post as a "you're sinning unless you're a perfect friend", since none of us are!

    When we read about David and Jonathan, it's incredible to look at how they related to each other. I've fought with guys before in cordial taekwondo tournaments, and I know the kind of friendships that can be born in a sparring ring. I can't explain it, but there is a certain kinship and feeling with someone you have fought alongside that is probably not understandable to someone who has never been there. I have to imagine that feeling is 100x as strong on a battlefield than in a polite tournament.

    This kind of gives some glimpse into the kind of feeling David and Jonathan had. This was a deep, brother-brother relationship. They had bled together in battle, they had fought alongside each other in a desperately outmatched, outmanned army. They had probably faced what seemed like certain death together many times.

    So I want to look at a couple different things that stand out to me in their friendship. Both men showed incredible attributes of friendship at different times along their lives, and I want to look at some of them.

    1.) First one that strikes me is Jonathan, risking his life to save David's against his own father (1. Sam. 19:2-7, 20:16-42). In these shocking verses, we see Jonathan stand up to his probably insane father in David's cause. The ironic thing is that by killing David, Saul was probably trying to establish Jonathan's claim to the throne. So, in Jonathan's defense of David, he was actually helping David to dethrone him. And he probably knew it!

    Jonathan placed his friendship and covenant with David (1 Sam. 18:3-4) above his personal benefit, rank, and ease. He preferred to risk his own life to stand up for his friend than to simply sit back and let things happen around him. Jonathan actually stepped in, against his own family, to protect his friend. That's crazy love!

    2.) Jonathan visiting David while David was on the run (1. Sam. 23:16-18). Not only is Jonathan risking his life by visiting an outlaw and rebel against his father, but he does it for two reasons. 1.) To encourage his friend in the Lord and 2.) to reaffirm that Jonathan recognizes David's right to the throne and let David know that he would not resist it, instead happily taking second place to David. What selflessness! He took an enormous risk to encourage his friend and to emphasize that he was there for David when David came to the throne. Jonathan was basically making himself available to David when he became king. Rather than being an active enemy of David's, Jonathan was again placing David's interests above his own.

    3.) The song of the bow (2 Sam. 1:17-27). The words David publishes after receiving word of Jonathan's death are beautiful sorrowful. These words express a deep, deep feeling to be coming from such a hardened warrior. In fact, in v. 26, David sings that Jonathan was his brother, and that he valued Jonathan's love even above the love of any woman (pretty impressive considering that David had at least three wives at this point). Jonathan was a brother to David, and his grief at Jonathan (one who should have been his enemy and rival for the throne) is apparent.

    We see David's horror at Jonathan's death in v. 11-12, when David (keep in mind he was a hardened warrior who had killed literally tens of thousands of men) ripped his clothes in grief and fasted and cried for an entire evening over Jonathan and Saul's deaths. That's grief. You can see his love.

    4.) David's love for Mephibosheth (2 Sam. 9:1-13). In the custom of the times, the new king would eradicate all trace of the former king's family to destroy prospective rivals who had the actual birthright to the throne. By destroying them, it made the new king at least equal with everyone else birthwise in regard to the right to the throne. But, in accordance with David's covenant, Jonathan's family was left unharmed.

    But David went further than that, providing for Jonathan's son (whom David had apparently never met, since he had no idea who he was). David brought Mephibosheth to his own home, fed him from his own table, and befriended him. Keep in mind this was the grandson of the man who hunted David for years!

    So what's my point? I think that we need to look at friendship more deeply than we are today. So many of our "friendships" consist of "Hey, How ya doing, How was your week, How's work, etc, etc" with none of the depth that we see between David and Jonathan.

    A friendship like that requires sacrifice. We see both men sacrifice and give deeply to protect each other and to provide for each other, even when the going was tough, uncomfortable, and risky. That's what friends do. A man that hath friends must show himself friendly.


  1. Very nice, Taylor! I have noticed friendships lagging these days. Thanks for the reminder.
    Glad your busy week's over.

    1. Yeah, me too! Although this one's gonna be crazy too!

  2. [insert happy dance for {seemingly finally} posting]
    I love the story of Jonathan and David's friendship, and you brought out some points I hadn't thought of in that. I've got a long way to go... Excellent post!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad you learned something new!

  3. I agree. I have always yearned for a friend like that. "A friend that sticks closer than a brother " But before we look for a friend like that, we First need to purpose to be that friend. People want that kind of friend, but don't Really think of being that friend themselves. Sadly, I had been guilty of that. Friendship goes both ways.

    Thanks Taylor for your reminder! Hope this week will be good to you!

    1. Good thoughts, Abby! I too have been guilty of the same thing, quite often. It's something to stay on guard about, for sure!

  4. Great post! I have been thinking on this subject a lot myself lately. I hope you and your friend are able to keep in contact! I know what it is like; but to a lesser extent. One of my best friends has been all Summer this year, and the past two. It has proven somewhat difficult to get back to "normal" whenever she gets back. I sincerely hope that your friendship makes it through this, but also that you develop another close friendship with someone nearby! :) I wrote on this topic awhile back:

    1. So far, we seem to be maintaining good contact. I'm pretty sure it'll last. And I'm checking out the article as I write this!