Friendship of David & Jonathan (pt. 1)


The relationship between David and Jonathan is a well-traveled subject. There are multiple passages throughout the story of David’s life in which these two men express their love and respect for each other. David, himself, took their relationship to new descriptive heights in his song of lament after his friend died in battle. He says of Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:26, “…your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.” Regular readers of Scripture are not typically accustomed to reading about such a strong bond between even a husband and wife, much less between two men. It seems strange to us, and makes us wonder if it is really possible today for two people to have a friendship as strong as David’s and Jonathan’s.

To properly answer the question, we need to define a little more clearly what their friendship looked like. The first time their bond is mentioned is 1 Samuel 18:1. The context of the passage shows us that this is the beginning of David’s long period of running from Saul. We are told that God tormented Saul with a spirit of jealousy of David – God gave David his enemy. You don’t have to go far to see that at the same time God gave so great an adversary to his servant, he provided him with an even greater ally. It does not say explicitly that God is the one who knit the souls of David and Jonathan together, because it doesn’t need to. We know that God is sovereign and he brings people together and pulls them apart; he sets them against each other and leads them away from battles. His fingerprints are all over the bond of David and Jonathan. A friendship like theirs does not happen this instantly or this intensely unless by divine providence. So, first and foremost, we see that theirs was a friendship founded by the LORD, for the LORD.

They had a very strong mutual respect for one another. Jonathan displays this from the very start of their relationship when he gives his robes and gear to David in 1 Sam. 18:3-4. He is effectively handing over his inheritance to David at this point. It is reminiscent of how God passed the priesthood from Aaron to Eleazar in Numbers 20:25-27. This was a symbolic gesture in that day. Because Jonathan was in tune with God’s Spirit, he was aware that David would be the king and acted accordingly. He makes this even more explicit in 1 Samuel 23:17. Whereas we see Saul rebel and thrash against David’s kingship, Jonathan trusts in God and thereby trusts David. He trusts him with his very right to the throne of Israel. We also begin to see a recurring theme on Jonathan’s part – self-sacrifice. He willingly denies himself the throne. He also goes behind the back of his father to warn David and save his friend’s life on multiple occasions – each time, putting himself in danger of the same hatred Saul reserved for David.

David showed a great deal of trust in Jonathan, as well. If a mighty king is seeking with all of his power to kill you, it would not be outside the realm of logic to be skeptical of that king’s son. Yet David trusted that Jonathan was not lying to him. He always took Jonathan at his word. This trust was born out of trust for God. David also proved his loving loyalty to Jonathan. In 1 Samuel 20:12-17, Jonathan makes David swear an oath to remember his family when he becomes the king. David made good on this promise in (2 Samuel 4). Once he ascended the throne of Israel, he brought Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, the last of Jonathan’s family, into his home. He was expected to act according to custom and have him executed, but instead acted in such a way that shows the friendship he shared with Jonathan was so powerful that it transcended their own life spans and extended even to their families.

The details of the friendship between Jonathan and David should be an inspiration to us. If God saw fit to ordain such a friendship as David’s and Jonathan’s, He is surely faithful to do the same today. I am not talking about just giving us people to hang out with. I mean strong, fiercely loyal, loving friends who are not bonded to us simply by some shared experience or mutual interest. I mean friends who are bonded to us by God’s own love and God’s own power. Do you have a friendship like David’s and Jonathan’s? If you do, then praise God every day for such a wonderful gift. If you don’t, then pray that God will send one to you, and ask him to purge you of anything that would get in the way of such a relationship. Because the closeness of David and Jonathan was founded in the love of God, we have to seek closeness with the Father if we hope to have their type of relationships.


Two truths and a lie about Brad:

  1. Holds a degree in Religious Studies from Liberty University.
  2. Currently works as a Web Developer and Graphic Designer.
  3. Has a crippling fear of the tiny holes cut into crackers.

The truth is out there…twice.

 Read Part 2 here 

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[…] week I discussed the friendship between Jonathan and David. Theirs was a God-given bond. This week I want to discuss their relationship by asking a few […]

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