I generally consider my people skills to be pretty rotten. I'm working on it, but God has really been showing me a lot about friendships through reading 1 and 2 Samuel.
I have really been struck by the friendship between Jonathan and David. I began to read and study these two men and was struck by their deep brotherhood. We talk a lot about being brothers and sisters in Christ, but sometimes I really wish there was a clear five step plan! As I was studying, God really spoke 4 things to me about David and Jonathan and what godly friendship looks like.
1. Jonathan loved David like a Brother
1 Samuel 18:1 tells us that Jonathan loved David like himself. In order to have a deep friendship with a brother or sister in Christ, we have to love them! That may seem very elementary, but that's the first step. What does that really look like? How do we know if we're really loving our brothers and sisters? Turns out that as Jonathan's and David's relationship grew, we see this demonstrated.
2. Jonathan Encouraged David in His Call from God
1 Samuel 18:4 says: "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."
This symbolized Jonathan acknowledging God's calling on David's life and saying he would follow him. What a huge encouragement for David as he's running for his life and probably wondering if he heard God or the fish he ate for dinner!
Also in 1 Samuel 23:16-17, Jonathan encourages David by telling him not to be afraid and that he will be king of Israel. Again, encouraging David in his call from God.
As brothers and sisters we have to affirm each other in our weaknesses. If I've just done something that was really hard for me, it's invaluable for someone to recognize that and tell me I did a good job. Simple as that!
3. Jonathan Fought for David
In 1 Samuel chapter 20, Saul is literally out for blood. Jonathan risks his own standing and his own life to help David.
Are you fighting for your brother and sisters in Christ? One of my wisest mentors said that as Christians, our wins can't come at another person's loss. In your relationship, can only one of you succeed? Can you celebrate with your brother or sister when one of you does well? Are you willing to walk through life with your friend? This isn't a surface level relationship. Jonathan risked everything to be there for David! Are you willing to risk to be there for your brother or sister?
4. David Grieved Jonathan
2 Samuel 1:11-12 says, "Then David and all the men with him took hold of their clothes and tore them. They mourned and wept and fasted till evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the army of the Lord and for the nation of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword."
Starting in verse 19, David composes a song expressing his deep grief at the loss of his friend.
I'm not saying that to be a good friend you have to wait until your friend dies! This part of Jonathan and David's story really struck me because of the reversal of roles. Up until this point, Jonathan has been there for David. Now, David is "there" for Jonathan.
Friendships work both ways. As brothers and sisters we have to be willing to be there for each other through seasons. There may be seasons when one friend is going through a rough time and the other friend has to be there for them more, and then vice versa. Are you willing to walk through those times with your brothers and sisters?
Needless to say, I still have a lot to learn about what it means to be a true sister in Christ to those around me. I mess it up. I get selfish. I get prideful. However, I know that God will continue to teach me how to be a better friend.