Imagine you’re in deep trouble. Some people are after you and you need somewhere to hide. Home isn’t an option—they know where you live. Whom will you go to? A dependable friend, probably. Someone you can trust, who is reliable, and who is always on your side.
Does it sound familiar? That’s what David was facing when he went to his friend Jonathan for help. That put Jonathan in a tricky situation. His father, King Saul, hated David and wanted to kill him. He had to choose between his own father and his best friend. Jonathan, however, stuck by David, risking his father’s wrath—and quite possibly, his life. His friendship saved David, as it helped David continue serving in Saul’s court despite the threat to his life.
The story of David and Jonathan is often seen as one of the classic examples of friendship. Few of us are likely to go through what they did and have our friendships tested to that extent, but we may have our own experience of the value of friendship. I had mine when I spent the last six months living in another country, where I was overwhelmed by the new environment, new culture, new things to get used to, and different ideas that people had. Thankfully, a friend stuck by me and made effort to keep up with me over Skype, despite the different time zones. Talking to her helped me keep an eternal perspective on all that I was going through, so that I would not get caught up in the busyness of life.
In his book Leap Over A Wall, author Eugene Peterson says friendship is an underestimated aspect of spirituality. Friendship, he says, “takes what’s common in human experience and turns it into something holy”. Peterson cites the example of David and Jonathan as friends whose goodness and loyalty to each other serve to contain Saul’s evil.
There are things we can learn from David’s experience in Saul’s hostile court. Regardless of where we are, we are likely to face difficult people, unfriendly situations, and tough decisions. We also have many adjustments to make and things to look out for, as our environment is constantly changing. Amid all the chaos, we may lose track of what is important, or feel like giving up entirely. But God has given us friends to remind us to anchor ourselves in Him, enabling Him to mould us through our everyday experiences.
In this crazy world, we need good friends who can ground us and direct our thoughts towards eternity. And we need to be good friends to others too. Let’s take time to appreciate the Jonathans in our lives, and learn to direct our friends to God.