Enduring bonds of friendship

Posted Jun 10, 2019

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Daily Scripture

1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:1-4, 30-33, 41-42

1 As soon as David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan’s life became bound up with David’s life, and Jonathan loved David as much as himself. 2 From that point forward, Saul kept David in his service and wouldn’t allow him to return to his father’s household. 3 And Jonathan and David made a covenant together because Jonathan loved David as much as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his armor, as well as his sword, his bow, and his belt.

1 David fled from the camps at Ramah. He came to Jonathan and asked, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father that he wants me dead?”

2 Jonathan said to him, “No! You are not going to die! Listen: My father doesn’t do anything big or small without telling me first. Why would my father hide this from me? It isn’t true!”

3 But David solemnly promised in response, “Your father knows full well that you like me. He probably said, ‘Jonathan must not learn about this or he’ll be upset.’ But I promise you—on the Lord’s life and yours!—that I am this close to death!”

4 “What do you want me to do?” Jonathan said to David. “I’ll do it.”

30 At that, Saul got angry at Jonathan. “You son of a stubborn, rebellious woman!” he said. “Do you think I don’t know how you’ve allied yourself with Jesse’s son? Shame on you and on the mother who birthed you! 31 As long as Jesse’s son lives on this earth, neither you nor your dynasty will be secure. Now have him brought to me because he’s a dead man!”

32 But Jonathan answered his father Saul, “Why should David be executed? What has he done?”

33 At that, Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to strike him, and Jonathan realized that his father intended to kill David.

41 As soon as the boy was gone, David came out from behind the mound and fell down, face on the ground, bowing low three times. The friends kissed each other, and cried with each other, but David cried hardest. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace because the two of us made a solemn pledge in the Lord’s name when we said, ‘The Lord is witness between us and between our descendants forever.’” Then David got up and left, but Jonathan went back to town.

Reflection Questions

Woody: Besides, when it's all over, I have Buzz Lightyear to keep me company, for infinity and beyond. *

Woody and Buzz—friends for infinity and beyond. In Bible history, most of us know something about Israel’s King David, but fewer know about his close friend Jonathan. “Eldest son of King Saul by his only wife (1 Sa. 14:49–50), he was his father’s heir, which makes his loyalty and affection for David, who succeeded Saul, the more wonderful (1 Sa. 20:31)….his loyalty to David, however, was made more difficult because it conflicted with his filial duty to and affection for Saul, his father and sovereign.” **

  • Jonathan’s loyalty to his friend David showed itself in his willingness to face his father’s unstable rage by standing up for his friend. Fortunately, few of us ever face that severe a challenge in showing loyalty to our friends. When have you faced a test of your loyalty to a friend, perhaps by family or another friend’s disapproval? How did you deal with the situation? Looking back, how do you feel about your action toward your friend?
  • David didn’t forget Jonathan, even after his friend’s death in battle (cf. 2 Samuel 1:4). When he was established as king in Israel, David sought out a surviving son of Jonathan (crippled by a childhood accident) and gave him an honored place at the royal court (cf. 2 Samuel 9:1-7). In what ways do you see David’s enduring friendship for Jonathan as foreshadowing Jesus’ eternally lasting friendship in giving you a place in God’s family?


Lord Jesus, help me to learn from Woody and Buzz, from Jonathan and David, and most of all from you the deepest meanings of being a friend. Make me a loyal, dependable friend. Amen.

* From https://www.quotes.net/movies/toy_story_2_11805

** T. H. Jones, article “Jonathan” in The New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1962, 1996, pp. 604-605.

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Cole Griffin

Cole Griffin

Cole Griffin is a student at Manhattan Christian College and Kansas State University where he is dual-majoring in Bible/Leadership and Social Work. This summer he is working at Church of the Resurrection as an intern in Adult Discipleship and Congregational Care. He enjoys throwing yoyos, skateboarding, and yoga.

What impresses me most about Jonathan and David’s relationship is the posture Jonathan takes with David given the power dynamic. Jonathan is the son of the King, the heir to the throne yet he also knows that David will inherit the throne instead. Rather than being jealous or joining his father’s efforts to maintain his position, he humbly submits to God’s will for the kingdom and defends David. He is able to put aside his own rights and desires for his friend. This circumstance is a breeding ground for envy and bitterness, yet “Jonathan loved David as much as himself” (1 Sam 18:1). He exemplified what it means to be a friend with a renewed heart.

We see this also between Buzz and Woody in Toy Story, but it takes a little work (and an entire movie) for Woody to put his competition with Buzz aside. In the first installment, Woody goes to great lengths to keep Buzz out of the role of Andy’s favorite toy, even going so far as pushing him out of a window. By Toy Story 2, they have overcome their grudge and exhibit the kind of loyal and sacrificial love that we are all called to in our relationships.

I know personally how quickly politics can break down a friendship into a mud fight. We are an insecure people, threatened by the successes of others, and quick to throw others under the bus. It can be especially hard when we work alongside our friends at our jobs and other engagements. During these times, I need to ask God to soften my heart and to give me a spirit of selflessness as he did with Jonathan.

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