Monday, July 25, 2005

David & Jonathan

Question: What's the single most important factor in shaping human character?

A. Education
B. Media
C. People
D. Monkeys

As valuable as education is, as influential as media is, as funny as monkeys are, I don't believe there's anything more important in shaping our character as people.

Sometimes people we haven't known for very long can have a tremendous impact. Sometimes it's people we have known for years. But the people who have the greatest influence over us are people we call "friends."

What a great word "friend" is. There's nothing better than having a real friend. In fact, I don't think you can have a friend and be considered poor. On the other hand, you can have all the money in the world, but if you don't have a friend -- you're not wealthy.

We've been looking at the early portion of King David's life -- the part before he was king. And we cannot really understand David as a young man without examining the friendship between David and Jonathan.

They were both warriors -- both strong-willed. Jonathan was the son of the king and heir to the throne. He was kind of the golden boy who might have been king. But David was going to prevent that from happening. We would expect them to be at each other's throats.

Instead, we find they are very close friends. Their relationship was never easy, never convenient. It wasn't a conventional friendship, but there was an unmistakably deep bond between the two of them. We're even told in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 that they made a covenant and Jonathan gave David his robe, his armor and his sword. It was Jonathan's way of telling David that he would not fight against David under any circumstances. He recognized that David was chosen by God to be the next king, and he would not stand in David's way.

Jonathan was willing to risk everything -- his future, the throne, his place in the family, his father's hatred, even his own life -- for his friend. There is nothing in the world like a friend.

Unfortunately, Jonathan was killed in battle, and David had to go through the majority of his life without his best friend. He had other friends, to be sure. But you never replace a friend like that. And I wonder -- how often did David take out that sword and look at it? How often did he try on that robe and think about his friend and their oaths of loyalty?

Did David take out that sword after he's won a battle? Did he look at the robe after he brought back the Ark of the Covenant and danced like a whilrling dervish? His wife didn't think he was very kingly that day. Maybe he took out the robe and remembered that his best friend Jonathan thought he looked like a king.

Did he think of his friend after he'd been broken by his own sin with Bathsheba? Would it have even happened if he'd had someone like Jonathan serving as his advisor?

Years later, when David was an old man, he asked, "Isn't there anyone left from Saul's family that I can show kindness to for Jonathan's sake?"

He find Mephibosheth -- Jonathan's crippled son. David brings him to court and sits him at the table and treats him like a son.

When David looked at Mephibosheth, he must have remembered his friend and that promise they made that nothing could break -- not rivalry, ambition, families, war, geographic separation, political factions, not death itself.

There's nothing in all the world like a real friendship.