rare gift of friendship Published week of August 23, 2020
Friendship is one of life’s most wonderful gifts. However, true friends are hard to come by these days. Many people have what we would refer to as acquaintances; but how many of these people would we truly call friends? What is the difference between an acquaintance and a friend?
In this Old Testament text, we read about Jonathan and David who had a unique friendship. We see here a snapshot in their lives of the covenant they made with one another. The exchanging of robes and weapons was significant in those days. It symbolized an exchange of identity, because people were often known by the color of their robes. The giving of weapons represented their fierce loyalty to one another. In essence they were saying, “Your enemies are my enemies. I will fight with and for you.” Interestingly, the covenant of friendship did not stop with the two of them, it also extended to their families, including future generations.
What was the basis of such a friendship? In verse three we read that Jonathan made the covenant because of his love for David. We can assume the feeling was mutual. In our culture, it is difficult for us to understand the deep meaning of this exchange, because promises are so easily made and broken between people today. However, this was not the case in biblical times. A covenant was a lifelong commitment and was never entered into lightly. In fact, the breaking of a covenant could result in death. These men were friends in the truest sense of the word.
We can learn much about true friendship from this relationship, can’t we? Let me ask, how many people do you, “love as you love yourself?” Sacrificial love is the basis of lasting friendship. It is the glue that holds the relationship together, and deep unity and loyalty spring from this love. It seems like the tendency today is to attempt to base friendship on common interests and backgrounds. But this was not the case for Jonathan and David who had very different backgrounds. Jonathan was the son of the King of Israel, and David was a shepherd. Of course common interests will play a role in friendship but they do not provide for a solid foundation.
Are you investing your life in true friendships? It takes sacrifice to develop such a relationship. However if you have even one true friend, consider yourself wealthy and blessed . . . because true friends are rare to find.
Dear Father, Thank You for my friends. Please help me to be a true friend to others and to prioritize these relationships so that they continue to deepen and grow. Lord, I want to be a friend that points others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.