What does David and Jonathan’s friendship teach us about what it means to be a true friend?
What does David and Jonathan’s friendship teach us about what it means to be a true friend? Deep within the pages of scripture, we can find many stories of friendship. From the unique relationship between Abraham and Lot to the unbreakable bond between Ruth and Naomi, the Bible is full of examples of what it means to be a true friend. But one friendship that is often overlooked is the one between King David and Jonathan, the son of Saul. This biblical relationship is full of valuable lessons about what it means to be friends. The covenant of friendship is a sacred agreement between friends that promises mutual support and loyalty. David and Jonathan’s story is a beautiful example of this covenant in action.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity – Prov 17:17
What lessons can we take away from the friendship of David and Jonathan?
1. A covenant of friendship is built on trust.
2. A covenant of friendship is based on mutual respect.
3. A covenant of friendship is a two-way street.
4. A covenant of friendship is built to last.
By learning a bit more about how God led these two men to form such a strong relationship and friendship, we can be inspired to seek out and nurture our own covenant friendships. In doing so, we will not only grow closer to God but also experience the deep satisfaction that comes from being part of something bigger than ourselves.
David and Jonathan
Who were David and Jonathan? Before delving into the lessons we can learn from their friendship, let’s take a quick look at who David and Jonathan were. Jonathan was the son of Saul, the first king of Israel. Born into royalty, he had everything a person could ever want, but Jonathan was not content with a life of privilege. He was a brave warrior and fought alongside his father and the other Israelite soldiers in many battles. David couldn’t have been born into more different circumstances. He was the youngest of eight sons and was often underestimated because of his size, however David had a heart for God and was eventually anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel. Even though they came from radically different backgrounds, David and Jonathan formed a strong bond of friendship. When David defeated Goliath, the Philistine giant, Jonathan was the first to recognize David’s God-given strength and faith.
He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty – Job 6:14
From that point on, Jonathan became a close friend and confidant to David. The story of their friendship is found in 1 Samuel 18-23. These chapters give us a glimpse into the deep respect and loyalty that characterized their relationship. It’s within these pages that we can learn critical lessons about what it means to be friends.
4 Keys to Building and Nurturing a Covenant Friendship
A Covenant Friendship is Built on Trust
One of the most important aspects of any friendship is trust. To have a strong covenant friendship, we must trust that our friend has our best interests at heart. We must also be able to trust that our friends will keep any confidences we share with them.
The story of David and Jonathan is an excellent example of trust in action. In the book of 1 Samuel, we read that Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as he loved himself, as it is written, “Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:3). This act of selfless love was based on trust. Jonathan trusted that David had good intentions and would not do anything to harm him. For us, this lesson is clear: trust is essential to any covenant friendship. If we want to have strong, lasting friendships, we must learn to trust those we call friends.
A Covenant Friendship is Based on Mutual Respect
Another vital element of a covenant friendship is mutual respect. For a friendship to thrive, both parties must respect one another. This means valuing each other’s opinions, listening to each other’s concerns, and honoring each other’s boundaries. Jonathan and David had a great deal of respect for one another. In 1 Samuel 20:4, we see that Jonathan even went so far as to warn David about his father’s plans to kill him. Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you” (1 Samuel 20:4). This act of respect and concern showed that Jonathan valued David’s life and well-being above his own.
When we respect our friends, we show them that we value their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. We are also sending the message that we are willing to put their needs above our own. This is the kind of mutual respect that builds biblical friendships.
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man – Prov 22:24
A Covenant Friendship is a Two-Way Street
Have you ever felt that you were the only one putting effort into a friendship? If so, you’re not alone. Many people have experienced one-sided friendships where they feel like they are the only ones doing the work. A covenant friendship is different. In a covenant friendship, both parties are equally committed to the relationship. This means that both friends are willing to put in the time and effort to make the friendship work. We see this two-way commitment in the relationship between David and Jonathan. When David was fleeing from Saul, Jonathan helped him escape – even when he couldn’t believe his father would attempt to take his friend’s life. Scripture says, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so” (1 Sam 20:2).
Later, when the Philistines captured Jonathan, David came to his rescue (1 Sam 23:23). In both cases, we see that each friend was there for the other, no matter what the risk. If we want to have strong covenant friendships, we must be willing to put in the work. We must be ready and willing to help our friends, even when it’s not convenient for us. Only then can we hope to have friendships that are built to last.
A Covenant Friendship is Built to Last
We all want our friendships to last forever, however time and distance often strain even the most robust of relationships. If we want our covenant friendships to stand the test of time, we must be intentional about nurturing them. Jonathan and David provide examples of how to do this. Even when they were apart, they kept in touch with each other and made plans to meet again. Scripture says, “David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home” (1 Sam 23:15-18). These small acts of communication and planning kept their friendship alive even when they were separated.
We can use this same strategy to keep our covenant friendships strong. By staying in touch with our friends and making plans to spend time together, we can keep the flame of friendship burning, even when we’re apart.
Friendship is a precious gift from God. When we have friends, we have someone to laugh with, cry with, and lean on in times of trouble. Friendship is one of the most important relationships we will ever have here on earth. The friendship of David and Jonathan is a beautiful example of what it means to be friends. Their covenant friendship is built on trust, respect, and a two-way commitment. This friendship is also a great example of how to keep our covenant friendships strong. If we want to have solid and lasting friendships, we must learn from the examples outlined in Scripture. By following the example of David and Jonathan, we can build friendships that will stand the test of time.
Author’s Bio: Quilsa Luv is a Christian and is also a craftswoman from Storyjewellery , a small business that focuses on meaningful jewelry gifts. She puts the heart of Christ into her work, so that more people can feel Christ and recieve His power.
Here is some related reading for you: True Friendship: A Bible Study on Friends 
Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.