March 20, 2023

“Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as much as himself. Then Jonathan removed the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his military tunic, his sword, his bow, and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:3-4

“Friend” is a common word.

It’s almost, at this point in history, a throwaway term. We use it to talk about acquaintances we have casual relationships with – many whom we’ve never met in person but share some common affinity with and have therefore been paired with on a social networking site. 

But isn’t there more to it than that? Isn’t there a longing inside of us for something more? Better? Deeper?

When we turn to the Bible, we find that there is something more. A case in point is the description of two friends found above in 1 Samuel.

There’s something more there, though we have to dig for it a bit, for in this relationship, we find great depth, sacrifice, and love, one that would stretch even beyond death. David and Jonathan were friends, but that friendship did not come without cost. Jonathan was the heir to the throne of Israel. Remarkably, though, Jonathan befriended David. 

David…the one who was anointed to be the next king. David…the one who would receive what was presumed to belong to Jonathan. David, who might logically be seen as the furthest thing from a friend – a threat.

That friendship meant more than just a casual relationship – Jonathan was willing to put aside his self-interests and self-preservation to see his friend become all that God had intended.

In 1 Samuel 18, Jonathan gave David some weighty gifts that symbolized that David, not Jonathan, was God’s choice to become the next king. With these gifts, Jonathan was not only willingly giving over what would have been considered his own rights and privileges; he was truly and freely rejoicing with another, even if doing so came at a great personal cost.

To be a friend means that we want the best for another person. It means we are willing to put aside our selfish ambition and vain conceit and consider another better than ourselves. It means we do not feel threatened by the advancement of another. It means we refuse to use other people for our own gain. This kind of friendship is rare – so rare, in fact, that it only comes through faith.

More specifically, when we truly and deeply believe the gospel.

When we believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are free to let go of what we perceive to be our own rights and privileges. We are free to truly rejoice with others and do all in our power to see them become everything God intends them to be. We drop the chains of our own insecurity and need for self-justification. 

We do all this because we believe that God has fully and completely loved and accepted us in Christ, and therefore we can fully and completely love another. Not for what we can get out of it but because we have all we need in Christ.

Written by Michael Kelley, Guest Contributor

To read more of Michael’s writing, check out his daily blog, Forward Progress