As someone who moved thirteen times across three continents by the time she was thirteen, friendships were really difficult to maintain. When I entered the 8th grade, I was done with people, done with making friends because I was under the impression that we would pick up and move again. Little did I know that I would meet one of my best friends and end up staying in the same place through high school and college.
Maintaining friendships nowadays looks like keeping up on Facebook, sending each other Snapchat/Instagram Stories, and texting gifs to each other. While these are fun and interactive ways to stay friends, they rarely encourage depth and long conversations. We actually have to try to meet face to face and spend longer amounts of time together.
Some of us like having hundreds of “friends” who are more like acquaintances, and some of us like having just a few friends who are your BEST friends. Whether you’re one or the other, the foundation of friendship must be based on one thing: selflessness.
One of the greatest friendships described in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan.
In 1 Samuel 18, Jonathan and David meet. They couldn’t be more different from each other. Jonathan, the son of King Saul, was the next heir to the throne. David was a shepherd and the youngest son in his family. Even King Saul was jealous of their friendship and threatened to kill David in front of Jonathan:
30 Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? 31 For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32 Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, o“Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33 But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34 And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.
My story may not be as extreme as Jonathan giving up everything for David to become King. But I did experience a friend who was incredibly selfless with me, and pursued me no matter what happened.
When I started the 8th grade, I had already moved 13 times, and I had just about had it. I wasn’t prepared to make any new friends, especially as a 13/14 year old who struggled with depression and low self-esteem. Before the school year started, we had to stop by the school to pick up our orientation packets. I remember standing in line and dreading the first day of school. While still standing in line, the girl in front of me whipped herself around, and excitedly introduced herself as Andrea. I was immediately disgusted, but tried to hide it. I was still civil, and introduced myself, but wanted the moment to be over as fast as possible. She had perfectly envious, straight hair. She had a brand-name purse, and wore the latest trends. She seemed to have other awesome, beautiful friends. Why would she want to introduce herself to me?
The first day of school came by, and I didn’t want to eat lunch. Remember the scene in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan’s character eats in the bathroom? I kind of wanted to do that.
But during the period before lunch, a different girl came up to me and told me that Andrea wanted me to sit with her at lunch. How did she remember me? How did she find me? Ugh, what does she want with me?
I’m not sure exactly what happened during that lunch, but all I know is that now she is one of my oldest friends, and we were the maid of honor at each other’s weddings. Throughout that 8th grade year, she regularly called me, asked me to hang out, studied together, and she never stopped encouraging me to stay positive and hopeful. She always let me borrow clothes and sleep over. She totally went out of her way to be my friend–a new girl who wasn’t exactly “cool”.
I know this seems pretty trivial compared to the story of Jonathan and David, but this selfless act of being accepting to a girl who couldn’t accept herself was life-changing. Andrea taught me how to really be a friend. How to share your possessions, gifts, time, energy, everything.
So let’s return back to the story of David and Jonathan because there are at least three ways that we can reignite our friendships (that have nothing to do with social media).
1. Look past your differences
Like I explained, Jonathan and David couldn’t have been more different. Yet, there was a supernatural bond between them.
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.
Brothers and sisters, our supernatural bond is Christ. Christ who died for ALL of our sins, and made us ALL righteous in God’s eyes. Yes, you may have social and political differences. You may root for opposing sports teams. But when there is a fellow Christian brother or sister, at the core of our friendship should be the bond with Christ. If we can’t see other people as God’s children, how are we to ever befriend and love them?
2. Sacrifice for/Protect your friends
When it was very easy for Jonathan to lie to David and have him killed so he could become king, Jonathan chose to protect David. Jonathan sacrificed his life on the line to protect David.
18 Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19 On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap.4 20 And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21 And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the LORD lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the LORD has sent you away. 23 And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the LORD is between you and me forever.”
How have you sacrificed for your friends? Perhaps it wasn’t as literal as with your life, but how have you selflessly given time, money, possessions so that someone else could benefit?
Do you have a skill that someone could benefit from? Do you have a large home to take in wandering souls?
God can use each of us in so many unique ways. He has given you specific skills, experiences, and gifts to be able to share with others.
In another way, Jonathan’s bravery in protecting David points to how Jesus interceded for us. Although it’s not a direct correlation because while Saul wanted to kill David, God ultimately wants to save us through Jesus. Nevertheless, we see the example of Jesus sacrificing his life for us so that we can be reconciled to God.
3. Keep your promises
The last mention we see of Jonathan and David together in the book of 1 Samuel is of him making a promise with David:
15 David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home.
Jonathan unfortunately dies at the hand of the Philistines, as we find out in 1 Samuel 31. But Jonathan kept his promise to David and did not allow Saul to kill David. David went on to become king.
In an earlier promise, Jonathan said:
“The LORD shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.
And although Jonathan had passed, David kept the promise and showed kindness and compassion to Jonathan’s family, particularly his son, Mephibosheth. Now, Mephibosheth also had the same fear that David did because as the son of Jonathan and grandson of Saul, after their deaths, he would be next in line. He probably thought death was around the corner for him.
But because of the covenant promise between David and Jonathan, Mephibosheth was accepted into David’s family, and experienced immeasurable grace.
Brothers and sisters, when we make promises, even as simple as following up on something, scheduling a get-together, or even being there for them in prayer, we are to keep them. You never know how these promises will unfold and benefit other people. When we have a greater picture of how God works, then our “small” promises actually have profound impacts.
And lastly, there’s the correlation between Jonathan and David’s covenant and God’s ultimate promise to us that if we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we will have eternal life, God will never leave or forsake us, and so much more.
God will never break his promise. Neither should we.
I pray that our friendships will be reignited by practicing selflessness, sharing and sacrificing our possessions (materials and non-materials), and keeping promises with each other that we will be there for each other because God’s ultimate promise is that He will never leave us.