“… he loved him as he loved himself.” 1 Samuel 20:17b (NIV)
My mother use to tell me to count myself lucky if I had just one “close friend.” That’s because close life-long relationships are hard to come by. So many people today are looking for meaningful relationships, yet so few actually find them.
We are becoming an increasingly private society, and it seems fewer people than ever have life-long intimate friendships. Still, the desire for this kind of relationship is not only sought after, but necessary.
Women are naturally drawn to other women. In fact, a girl’s first experience with heartache may have been over a lost “best friend” rather than a “boy friend.” Women value friendships. When they are lost, we grieve; not just over the friendship itself, but also for the secrets shared, the trust given and the acceptance enjoyed. If betrayed, the pain runs deep causing us to wonder if intimate friendships are really possible.
When I think of a biblical example of real friendship, the story of David and Jonathan, found in 1 Samuel 19, always comes to mind. Jonathan, son of King Saul, was David’s closest friend. But his father, the king, despised David because he was growing in popularity and because God had anointed David to be king. These facts enraged King Saul, so much that he commanded his aids and Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan loved David, therefore betrayal was impossible.
Jonathan stripped himself of the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his armor, his sword, his bow, and his belt. Jonathan was the potential heir to his father’s throne, but we see him sacrificing his future for his best friend as he literally gave David his place as king. You and I can learn from this action that true friendship means a willingness to sacrifice for each other in love. It’s the ability to put another’s needs, desires, and wishes above our own. Loyalty is also a mark of true friendship. We’re told that Jonathan went to his father and spoke well of David. Jonathan also stood up to his dad and essentially said, “Dad, you’re wrong about David. He hasn’t done any wrong to you; in fact, everything he’s done has helped you.” A true friend is a loyal defense before others, one who won’t talk about you when you’re not around. True friends stick up for each other. Finally, intimate friends give each other complete freedom to be themselves. In an intimate friendship, you don’t have to explain why you do what you do. You’re just free to do it. When Jonathan gave David the news that things were troubled in the palace and that his dad was going to kill him, the two were forced to say goodbye. The text tells us that they wept together.
When your heart is broken, you can bleed all over a friend like this and she’ll understand. She won’t try to dismiss your misery or tell you to straighten up. Intimate friends let each other hurt and they weep together. If your friend needs to talk it through, you will listen. Intimate friends don’t bale; they stay. They allow you to be yourself no matter what “self” looks like in that moment. If you’re looking for a godly recipe for relationships, look no further. Mix together love, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom and you can create an intimate friendship that lasts a lifetime.
While reading this, I remembered a song we used to mime (maybe chant, can’t really call that singing )so happily to back then in Sunday School. Someone please help me- is it from one of the Kids Praise series? Mr Donutman? or Psalty??
If you’ve never tried it
You’ve got to have a taste
So come into the kitchen and
We’ll make a batch of praise
First you take a cup of faith
And stir it all around
Add some joy and laughter
Till it makes a bubbly sound
Mix in some agape love
Till it begins to ring
Pour into a willing heart
And serve it to the king
A nice to say prayer: Dear Lord, help me to be a friend like Jonathan. Then, bless me with the same. Amen.
Photos obtained via google images