“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (ESV – Read the chapter)
Do you have a friend? I don’t mean an acquaintance. I mean a real, genuine, honest-to-goodness friend. Someone you could call in the middle of the night with anything and they’d be there in an instant if you needed them? We live today in a culture where this kind of deep, soul-level friendship is a rare thing all the while people hunger for relationships. This story may be just the antidote we need for this poison.
We could talk at length about the relationship these two men had, but a few observations here will suffice for now. First, contrary to the pathetic claims of a few modern interpreters seeking to find any kind of Biblical warrant for alternative lifestyles, nothing about their relationship was sexual.
This is part of what makes friendships like this one so rare today. Our culture is hyper-sexualized to the point that when two people (especially of the same gender—the kind of friendship David and Jonathan shared is one best suited to men with men or women with women) grow to this depth of closeness to one another, there is much cultural pressure to make it something non-platonic. This is not what they had. They had a friendship.
Second, the fact that they could have this friendship at all speaks of the depth of Jonathan’s character in particular, but also of David’s. Jonathan was the king’s son. He was the heir apparent, and from all accounts, a truly worthy successor. He was braver, more righteous, and humbler than his father, Saul. For his part, David brought no egoism or sense of entitlement to their relationship. Their friendship ran deeper and richer than mere social position or title.
Any true friendship both requires and creates character. It demands humility on our part. We don’t pour into this other person because of what they will give us, but because we love them. We set ourselves and our needs to the side to pour into them and theirs. They do the same for us and the cycle becomes one that gives life to you both. In the process of this demand for character, though, we become more humble and self-giving. We become more focused on the people around us than our own needs. In other words, as we work to become a better friend to one, we become a better friend in general. When we learn to love someone other than ourselves, we are freed from the tyranny of our desires.
Third, this kind of friendship takes more than Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or any other social media platform can provide us. Receiving likes on a post does not mean you have any friends. It means you created a post that was sufficiently interesting to catch someone’s attention long enough to read the whole thing. In the new world of social media ethics, such a feat demands a “like.” Social media may make connections between people possible, but the sheer number of people who spend hour upon hour scrolling through their newsfeed all while feeling emptier and lonelier bears out the hard news that such “connections” are not the food our soul needs. They are bits of candy when we need something entirely more filling and wholesome.
Fourth, this kind of friendship is something everyone needs. This is not an accessory to a full life, it is a necessity for experiencing it. But, if you feel like you are missing out on friendship like this, you cannot demand it or become resentful toward others. Such a reaction stems from turning inward in our misery which is precisely the opposite of what is needed. In order to have a friend, we must be a friend. We must give first before we can receive. We must find another person in whom we can pour some of our cup even if it doesn’t seem very full to us. When we pour ourselves out like this, we will find like the widow of Zarephath, that our cup will not run dry.
Let me finish this personally. I can speak with some authority and confidence here, because I have such a friend as this. Throughout my life since before I can remember, Jason Pinder has been this to me. He has shown me over and over again the love that only a true friend can, and I am infinitely richer for it. My gratitude to him knows no words to properly express its depths. Thank you for that. I love you, Buddy.