As we continue this series on community at Wesley, there are two characters in the Bible we can look to for a good example of what God intends friendship to be like.

The two are David and Jonathan—God’s appointed King of Israel and the son of the former king of Israel, Saul. The story of their friendship is mostly contained within 1 Samuel 18 to 20.   

The very first line in 1 Samuel 18, where the two are introduced together, shows us just how deep and loyal friendships should be. The Bible [ESV] literally says that the soul of Jonathan was “knit” to the soul of David, and “Jonathan loved [David] as himself.”

Knit, according to, means “to join closely and firmly, as members or parts.” Biblical friendship should contain a deep emotional connection, a level of vulnerability that goes beyond casual talk. It goes straight to knowing the other person’s heart and letting your heart be known by the other person.

There are a few characteristics to how Jonathan loves David well as a friend that I want to highlight here.

1.     Jonathan sacrifices for his friend.

Four verses into their friendship, Jonathan takes his robe and puts it on David’s back. He gives his own armor to David, including his sword, bow and belt. In friendships, we are called to sacrifice. We sacrifice time when we don’t feel like giving it. We hold our tongues and listen when we’d rather talk. Friendship requires sacrifice.  

2.     Jonathan stands with David in the good and the bad.

David, who took down Goliath, was anointed by God in battle. Jonathan’s dad, Saul, was very jealous of this and the attention David received because of his success.

A few different times through 1 Samuel 18 to 20, Saul plots to kill David. Because Saul was Jonathan’s dad, you would think Jonathan would defer to him, for fear or otherwise. But he doesn’t. He knows what Saul wanted to do was wrong, so he stood up for his friend, reminding his dad that David had done nothing to deserve punishment by death.

We are called to stand up and fight for our friends, even when it’s difficult. We can pray for them. We can offer encouragement and advice or lend them an ear.     

3.     Jonathan rejoices and weeps with David.      

When David was anointed as the next king—meaning Jonathan would no longer be next in line to be king—it could have been really easy for him to be jealous of David. Instead, he loved David well.

We are called to be truly happy for friends when good things happen for them. We celebrate them well even when it’s something we might really want for ourselves.

In the same way, we are called to mourn with friends when there is something or someone they have lost. Jonathan literally sits and weeps with David when he finds out that he will have to flee from Saul. We should be just as present in our friends’ lives in the bad times as the good.

Jonathan’s love for David is characterized by sacrifice, steadfastness and a deep understanding of who David was and what he was going through.

This love between Jonathan and David is but a glimpse of what Christ’s love is like for each one of us.

God made the ultimate sacrifice for us when he died on the cross. He made that sacrifice so he could have intimate relationship with us. God loves us when things are going well, and He also loves us when we make mistakes. He loves us whether we feel lovable or not. And God hears our cries. He won’t leave you where you are if it’s not good.

He is our ultimate friend and so much more.      


Author | Lindsey Conway