“And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” 1 Samuel 18:3-4
Friendship. It’s one of life’s most wonderful gifts. True friends, however, are hard to come by, aren’t they? Most of us have many acquaintances; but how many of these people would we truly call friends? And what is the difference…what makes someone a friend?
Jonathan and David had a unique friendship. In this passage we have a picture 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.” The covenant of friendship also extended to their families, including future generations.
What was the basis of such a friendship? Verse three says that Jonathan made the covenant because of his love for David. We can assume the feeling was mutual. It is hard for us to understand the deep meaning of this exchange, because promises are so easily made and broken in our culture. This was not so in biblical times. A covenant was a lifelong commitment never entered into lightly. 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? 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. The tendency today is to attempt to base friendship on common interests and backgrounds. But Jonathan and David were from two different worlds. Jonathan was the son of the King of Israel, and David was a shepherd. Common interests will of course play a role in friendship; but they are a shaky foundation.
Are you investing your life in true friendships? It does take sacrifice to develop such a relationship. But if you have even one true friend, consider yourself wealthy and blessed…because true friends are hard to find.
Dear Father, Thank You for my friends. Please help me to prioritize these relationships so that they continue to deepen and grow. Help me to be a friend that points others to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.