Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”
Nowadays a good friend is hard to come by. In our society the term “friend” really means associate or social media acquaintance. Friendship these days seems to have lost its value. People live behind their phones or computer screens isolating themselves from true community.
I’d argue that only in true community is one able to truly grow and be sharpened into the man or woman they were meant to become. The human race was designed for fellowship. After all, when God created Adam he designed for him a helpmate Eve and he walked among them in the garden. From the very beginning friendship was the Lord’s idea. But what has happened?
Now it is so easy to delete people out of our lives by one click. Or manufacture phony fellowship by painting a picture perfect life on social media but secretly living a life of loneliness or selfishness. We need one another, we need true friends.
What is a true friend one might ask? The bible has a lot to say about true friends and bad friends. Today we will focus on what true biblical friendship is and what does it look like. For today’s purpose I will define a true friend with the scripture listed above. A true “friend loves at ALL times, and a brother is born for adversity.” There is no better story to illustrate this verse than the story of Jonathan and David located in the book of 1 Samuel. Before we dive in let me set the context…
Context: Israel was God’s chosen nation headed by God. But God’s leadership wasn’t enough, they wanted a King because “then we will be like all the other nations” 1 Samuel 8:20. God didn’t want them to be like all the other nations he chose them to be his people. Nevertheless, God gave them free will and allowed them to have a King. He gave them one on one condition that as long as they still considered the Lord as their ultimate ruler then they would be blessed but if they turned away from Him then they would suffer.
The people picked King Saul. He was tall and handsome. Unfortunately his character didn’t match his charisma. He was insecure, jealous, and disobedient. He failed under pressure. He compromised God’s directions under pressure. But like God always does he had a backup plan. King David.
Even though David never usurped Saul and his authority, Saul became very jealous of David and tried to have him killed on numerous occasions.
Saul had a son named Jonathan and Jonathan and David became one in spirit. That is where our story of biblical friendship begins in 1 Samuel 18-21.
1. True friends love you as they love themselves.
1 Samuel 18:1, “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.”
I am convinced that you cannot love another human being without being considerate of their heart or feelings.
When someone is truly a friend they consider the other person’s heart in all of their decisions. Not perfectly, but increasingly. It’s the famous golden rule; “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
True friends think about how their choices impact those around them either positive or negative and consider the other person and how they would feel.
2. True friends are committed to the friendship and give sacrificially and selflessly.
1 Samuel 18:3-4, “And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
Jonathan took off his robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.”
Imagine being Jonathan, you are next in line to obtain the throne but here comes a shepherd boy to take your Daddy’s place. Many of us if we were truly honest would admit that’s grounds for jealousy, rivalry, or
competitiveness, but not Jonathan. He had David’s highest good in mind. He knew God’s will and was so in tune with God’s spirit that he demonstrated his commitment by giving up something so dear to him.
His robe symbolized his rank, standing, stature, and fame. In other words he was saying, here King David, you take my position on the throne. His tunic represented his military uniform. Jonathan was a warrior and a general and won many battles. In essence he was saying to David “take my leadership or place as general now.” His sword and bow was his defense and handing that to him was an act of his vulnerability. Finally he gave him his girdle which held everything together; his sword, bow, and his garments. In other words, Jonathan was saying, “take everything precious and dear to me.”
True friends are not selfish. They esteem others higher than themselves. They are selfless and demonstrate that love and friendship sacrificially.
3. True friends warn others when people don’t have their best interest at heart.
1 Samuel 19:1, “Saul told his son Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him.”
Jonathan didn’t fear his father, he feared God and that is what gave him the courage to warn David of his father’s wicked schemes. The bible says the fear of man is a trap. If your friends are more interested in “keeping the peace” rather than warning you of ambushes or blindsides, then I would pray for genuine friends. The bible never says blessed are the peace keepers but rather blessed are the Peace Makers.
Sometimes peace comes with a sword and a true friend will warn you of others who don’t have your best interest at heart. Jonathan wasn’t afraid of offending his father because he was committed to doing the right thing. I’ve lived this one personally. I’ve had three very close friends warn me of others who didn’t have my best interest at heart. Although it took me a while to believe them, and it was painful to understand, I am truly grateful for their warning.
4. True friends are loyal behind your back and speak well of you at all times.