1 Samuel 20:12-17 12Jonathan said to David, “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel! About this time tomorrow or the day after, when I have tested my father to see if he is favorably inclined toward David, I will send word to you so that you hear about it. 13May the Lord punish Jonathan severely and double it, if my father is planning to harm you and I do not disclose it to you and send you on your way, so that you may go in peace. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14You must show the mercy of the Lord to me, not only while I am still alive, so that I do not die, 15but you also must not cut off your mercy from my house forever—no, not even when the Lord has cut off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord demand an accounting from David’s enemies.” 17Then Jonathan had David repeat the oath, because of the love that he had for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7
Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play Major League Baseball. He faced hostility from opposing teams. He faced animosity from baseball fans. He even faced resentment and suspicion from his own teammates on the Brooklyn Dodgers.
During one game, the taunting became unbearable. While playing second base, Jackie committed an error. The Boston players and fans began to heckle Jackie mercilessly. That’s when legendary shortstop Pee Wee Reese walked over from his shortstop position and put his arm over Jackie’s should and began talking to him.
Speaking of the incident years later, Jackie said, “I don’t even remember what he said. It was the gesture of comradeship and support that counted. … The jeering stopped, and a close and lasting friendship began between Reese and me.”
That monumental moment of friendship is rightly enshrined as a monument with Jackie and Pee Wee with their arm around each other. The statue is in Brooklyn, NY outside the Brooklyn Cyclones Minor League Stadium.
Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson should have been enemies. But they became lifelong friends.
Saul had been anointed by God to be the first king of Israel. But Saul rejected the word of the Lord and so the Lord rejected Saul as king over Israel (1 Samuel 15:26). God then had the prophet Samuel anoint the young shepherd boy David to be the next king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:13).
Jonathan was the son of King Saul. He was a brave and mighty warrior. Scripture records how one day Jonathan and his armor bearer attacked a Philistine outpost. They were outnumbered 10 to 1. Yet the two of them killed 20 Philistine soldiers (1 Samuel 14:14). The rest of the Philistine army fled in panic.
The Philistines eventually regrouped. This time they brought their giant, Goliath, along. Refusing to wear the king’s armor or carry the king’s sword, David walked into the Valley of Elah to face the giant with only his sling and five smooth stones … and the Lord. The shepherd boy shouted at the giant, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. … All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands” (1 Samuel 17:45-47).
David slung a single stone at the Philistine, sinking it deeply into the giant’s forehead. Goliath fell facedown on the ground. David took the Philistine’s sword and used it to cut off the giant’s head (1 Samuel 17:48-51).
David was a brave and mighty warrior. After his victory over Goliath, King Saul kept David with him in the palace. Saul gave David a high rank in his army and also had him play the harp for him when an evil spirit tormented the king. The people loved David and sang of his military success: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Saul became jealous of David’s popularity and fearful of David’s military successes. In his jealous madness, Saul tried to pin David to the palace wall with his javelin (1 Samuel 18:5-16).
Jonathan and David became fast friends. Scripture reports that “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself (1 Samuel 18:1). David married Saul’s daughter, Michal, making David and Jonathan brothers-in-law. With a covenant before the Lord whom they both loved, David and Jonathan vowed a never-ending friendship to each other.
Jonathan was the heir to Saul’s throne, yet he knew David had been anointed to be the next king of Israel. Even though they should have been enemies, they became lifelong friends.
That friendship received a severe test when Saul’s dark depression had intensified to the point of madness. Saul’s suspicions of David had grown to a murderous fury. David knew that Saul was trying to kill him, but David was still convinced that his father would have told him if he wanted David dead. So Jonathan promised that he would test his father. “I swear by the Lord, the God of Israel! About this time tomorrow or the day after, when I have tested my father to see if he is favorably inclined toward David, I will send word to you so that you hear about it. May the Lord punish Jonathan severely and double it, if my father is planning to harm you and I do not disclose it to you and send you on your way, so that you may go in peace” (1 Samuel 20:12-13).
Jonathan accepted that David would be the next king. He asked for David’s mercy for himself and his family when David took the throne from Saul. “You must show the mercy of the Lord to me, not only while I am still alive, so that I do not die, but you also must not cut off your mercy from my house forever” (1 Samuel 20:14-15).
Here is a friendship unlike any other. This is how Scripture describes the brotherly love between these two men: “For [Jonathan] loved [David] as he loved his own soul” (1 Samuel 20:17).
How different is our friendship with Jesus?!
We have sinned against Jesus. We have betrayed him when we have not stood up to abortion advocates by standing for the life of the little children Jesus holds dear. We have denied Jesus when we have faced persecution for our conservative Christian faith in the workplace and in the classroom. We have doubted Jesus when the medical bills are increasing and the bank account is decreasing. We do not love Jesus with our whole soul (Matthew 22:37).
We have damaged our friendship with Jesus in the unloving ways we have treated those whom Jesus loves. Jesus tells us, “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Despite that instruction, we often look for reasons not to love. Have you noticed how horribly we can treat the one person whom we have promised to love on this earth? Have you noticed how easily we belittle our parents or discourage our children? Have you noticed how quickly we can point out the shortcomings other people have? Have you noticed how fast we can remember how someone has hurt us? Have you noticed how creative we can be in seeking vengeance on those who have wronged us?
Even though we should be enemies of Jesus, Jesus has made us his eternal friends.
We rightly use various titles to describe Jesus’ relationship with us. He is the Son of God and our Savior (Luke 2:11). He is the Lamb of God who made the atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:29). He is our Good Shepherd who laid down his life for us sheep (John 10:17). He is the Prophet who preaches God’s Word to us (Isaiah 61:1), the High Priest who intercedes for us (Hebrews 9:24, 26), and the King who rules over us (John 18:36, 37).
One title that describes a different kind of relationship with Jesus is Friend. What a blessing to be considered Jesus’ Friend! What a blessing to call Jesus our Friend! Abraham is described as God’s friend (James 2:23). Lazarus is described as Jesus’ friend (John 11:11). Jesus described his disciples as friends (John 21:15). Jesus describes us as his friends when we follow his commands (John 15:14). Instead of being the Master who calls us his servants, Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
It is a privilege to sing about our relationship with Jesus as our Friend. A Christian favorite hymn for over 150 years has been “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (Christian Worship: 411). Jesus is the Friend who bore all our sins and griefs. We can speak to him at any time in prayer. He is always with us. He will never leave us nor abandon us. He is always faithful to us. He knows our every weakness, fault and hidden secret. And he still loves us.
He is the Friend who takes our burdens on himself. He is a refuge who protects us from every evil and enemy. Even if other friends despise or forsake us, we can find solace in our friendship with our Lord and Savior.
Jesus is not ashamed to call himself our God and Friend (Hebrews 11:16). He forgives our betrayals, denials and doubts. He loves us with an undying love that caused him to die for us. He announces his love to us with the words of absolution. He proclaims his devotion to us on the cross. He whispers encouragement and advice into our ears through His holy Scriptures. He speaks his comfort and consolation into our hearts through his resurrection gospel. He clothes us with his own robes of righteousness in our baptism. He feeds our weak faith with his sacramental meal. He sends his holy angels to watch over us. He sits on his throne to work everything out for our good. He places his nail-scarred hands around our hands to lead us to his heavenly home. He gives us his blessing to live as his Father’s children, his Spirit’s saints, and his eternal friends.
Friendship takes many forms – from causal acquaintance to bosom buddy. You may have childhood friends, friends from high school or college. Your best friend may be your sibling or your spouse. Jesus’ friendship to you allows you to be Christian friends to all of them.
Though Jesus should be our enemy, he has made us his eternal friends. If there is ever a moment in your life when you feel alone; if it ever feels like an entire stadium is against you; if it seems like your enemies want you dead, never forget your Best Friend.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus is the Friend who laid down his life for you. Jesus stands beside you with his arm around your shoulder. He has made his covenant of friendship with you. He loves you with his own soul. Amen.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:11