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David and Jonathan’s Friendship: A Biblical Model of True Friendship

Role Models of Philia Love in the Bible

One of the most remarkable examples of friendship in the Bible is the bond between David and Jonathan. They met when David was a young shepherd boy who had just defeated the giant Goliath, and Jonathan was the son of King Saul. Despite their different backgrounds and social positions, they formed a bond of love and loyalty that lasted beyond death.

Many obstacles challenged David and Jonathan’s friendship, including Saul’s jealously and attempts to assassinate David, David’s exile and hardships, and Jonathan’s allegiance to his father and nation. Throughout it all, they remained loyal to one another and helped one another in times of need. They also shared their feelings openly and honestly, without fear or shame.

Who were David and Jonathan?

David was a young shepherd boy who was anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the next king of Israel, replacing Saul, who had disobeyed God. Jonathan was Saul’s son and heir to the throne. He was also a brave warrior who led Israel’s army against the Philistines.

David and Jonathan Friendship 1

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

1 Samuel 16:11-13

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.

“Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.”

The two of them made a covenant before the LORD. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh.

1 Samuel 23:16-18

How did David and Jonathan become friends?

David and Jonathan Friendship 2

David and Jonathan met after David’s famous victory over Goliath, the Philistine giant. Jonathan was impressed by David’s courage and faith in God, and he felt a connection with him.

The Bible says, “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:1). Jonathan made a covenant with David, giving him his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt as a sign of his commitment. He also defended David from Saul’s jealousy and anger, risking his own life.

What did they do for each other?

1. When Saul tried to kill David, Jonathan warned him and helped him escape.

Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan had taken a great liking to David and warned him, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning; go into hiding and stay there. I will go out and stand with my father in the field where you are. I’ll speak to him about you and will tell you what I find out.

Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly. 5 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?

Saul listened to Jonathan and took this oath: “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be put to death.

So Jonathan called David and told him the whole conversation. He brought him to Saul, and David was with Saul as before.

1 Samuel 19:1-7

2. When David was hiding from Saul in the wilderness, Jonathan visited him and “helped him find strength in God.”

And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

3. When Jonathan died in battle with his father, David lamented for him and praised his love. (2 Samuel 1:17-27).

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):

David and Jonathan Friendship “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel.

How the mighty have fallen!

“Tell it not in Gath,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,

lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,

lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

“Mountains of Gilboa,

may you have neither dew nor rain,

may no showers fall on your terraced fields.

For there the shield of the mighty was despised,

the shield of Saul—no longer rubbed with oil.

“From the blood of the slain,

from the flesh of the mighty,

the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,

the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.

Saul and Jonathan—

in life they were loved and admired,

and in death they were not parted.

They were swifter than eagles,

they were stronger than lions.

“Daughters of Israel,

weep for Saul,

who clothed you in scarlet and finery,

who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.

“How the mighty have fallen in battle!

Jonathan lies slain on your heights.

I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;

you were very dear to me.

Your love for me was wonderful,

more wonderful than that of women.

“How the mighty have fallen!

The weapons of war have perished!”

2 Samuel 1:17-27

4. When David became king, he showed kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was crippled, by restoring his land and inviting him to eat at his table.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

(2 Samuel 9:3, 7)

David and Jonathan Friendship 2

David and Jonathan showed their friendship in many ways. They supported each other in times of trouble, encouraged each other in faith, and honored each other in word and deed. Here are some examples:

4. When David became king, he showed kindness to Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was crippled, by restoring his land and inviting him to eat at his table.

The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” David said, “Mephibosheth!” “At your service,” he replied. “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.”

(2 Samuel 9:3, 7)

What can we learn from their friendship?

David and Jonathan’s friendship teaches us several lessons about Philia love:

1. True friendship is based on love for God and His will. David and Jonathan Friendship 3
David and Jonathan loved God more than anything else, and they sought to obey Him even when it was hard. They also recognized God’s plan for David to be king, and they did not let their personal interests interfere with it.

2. True friendship is loyal and faithful.
David and Jonathan never betrayed each other or broke their covenant. They stood by each other in good times and bad times. They also respected each other’s families and descendants.

3. True friendship is sacrificial and generous.
David and Jonathan gave up their rights and possessions for each other. They also risked their lives for each other. They did not seek their own advantage or glory, but rather sought to serve each other.

4. True friendship is supportive and encouraging.
David and Jonathan helped each other cope with their difficulties and challenges. They also strengthened each other’s faith in God. They did not criticize or discourage each other, but rather spoke well of each other.

Summary

David and Jonathan’s friendship is a beautiful example of how God designed us to relate to one another. As Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” May we follow their footsteps and cultivate such friendships in our lives.

Their friendship was a model of philia love that can inspire us today. They showed us how to value and cherish our friends, how to be loyal and trustworthy, how to communicate and empathize, and how to sacrifice and serve. They also showed us that true friendship is a gift from God that can enrich our lives and bring us joy.

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