What friendship looks like when you’re secure in Christ

PeonyHe had everything to lose. Everything. 

As Saul’s son, Jonathan was the presumed heir to the throne in Israel’s newly-founded monarchy. The title. The throne. The crown. The power and prestige. The responsibility. The joy. All would be his.

But that’s not quite the way things worked out.

Saul’s heart turned from the Lord, so the prophet Samuel was sent to anoint the next king (1 Samuel 15). And he didn’t go looking in Saul’s household. Instead, a shepherd named David had the office conferred upon him. But years passed between David’s anointing and Saul’s death. Saul’s jealousy of David flared hot. 

His jealousy of a threat to his throne makes sense. But what’s most interesting to me is who wasn’t jealous: Saul’s son, and David’s best friend, Jonathan.

Saul made repeated attempts on David’s life over the years. But Jonathan’s friendship toward David was unwavering. One man’s divine appointment was the other’s earthly loss. I marvel at the relationship of these two men. I crave such friendship.

Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
— 1 Samuel 18:3 ESV

1 Samuel 20 later records an instance of Jonathan’s protection of David when Saul sought his life. Another man might have betrayed David’s confidence and claimed the throne for himself.

What would you have done?

Maybe the better question is “What do you usually do?” After all, aren’t we faced with analogous choices almost daily?

  • Do you passively undermine a co-worker’s (or boss’s) success by turning work in late or sloppy?
  • Do you simply remain quiet when faced with an opportunity to recommend someone for an opportunity?
  • Do you defame another in gossip, thereby gaining socially from his/her loss of good reputation?

We do it all too often, friends.

We need to be more like Jonathan.

I think it was Jonathan’s faith in God that liberated him from jealousy. He wanted what God wanted for Israel. And for David. Even if it was his own loss.

But how? From where did Jonathan draw this fortitude?

The scriptures record a deep mutual affection. But I think it’s more than that. (After all, our emotions are fickle!) I suspect Jonathan knew how much he, himself, was loved by God. 

When we have a deep and abiding sense of our preciousness in God’s eyes–and a firm trust in the goodness of His plans for us–we are free to love others wholeheartedly and without concern for whether their gains come at our (perceived or real) expense. We’ll be able to labor in a way that promotes the success of others. We’ll seek to bring them good not harm. And we will love them well, in both thought and deed.

Without security in how much God loves us, we simply cannot love others as He intends.

When has someone shown this kind of love to you?

Please share!
    • Heather

      Totally true! I have had friends in the past who could not be happy for me because of their jealousy of what I’ve had or friends who’ve turned their back on me for their own selfish gain… I have found it is much easier for me to be a good friend (even to those who I know are not my friend) since I have found confidence through my relationship with Christ. I no longer need others’ approval nor do I even need them to like me… Just knowing how much I’m loved makes it so much easier to let those things go.

      • http://www.eighttwentyeight.org Kirsten Holmberg

        It’s liberating, isn’t it, Heather! Thanks for taking the time to tell me about your experience with this.

    • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/441461919348300/ Theresa Schut via Facebook

      Kirsten these words really resonated with me and were just what I needed to hear today, thank you!

    • Cindy Langston Penner

      Ok, wow! Ouch! Wow! So painstakingly true and to the point. I’ve been on both sides of this coin and it is so much better to have that confidence in Christ and His love for me and not need or even desire the approval of others. I never thought of how Jonathan’s faith in God liberated him from jealousy! He wanted what God wanted… Thanks again for another thought provoking post.

      • http://www.eighttwentyeight.org Kirsten Holmberg

        Yep, I saw myself in the equation both ways, too, Cindy. We’ll continue to grow in the right direction. :-)

    • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/975237455854031/ Kristin Ringoen via Facebook

      This is a great blog Kirsten! Thank you for pointing out this truth, I never thought about it like this before.

    • Tara Ulrich

      I really enjoyed this post friend! I indeed want to be the kind of friend Jonathan was/is.