|Volume 18 Number 5 May 2016||
It has been said that during our lifetimes that we will make many acquaintances, but our best friends can be counted on one hand. A true friend is one who knows all about you, yet loves you just the same. Best friends sometimes finish each other’s sentences. “Friends cross all barriers of race, creed, age, gender, and country to connect only with the heart and spirit, which have no walls. Sometimes they don’t even know it when they say the right words at just the right time. Sometimes friends feel like family; sometimes they are family” (Fargo).
The USAA Educational Foundation published When a Loved One Dies: Coping with Grief. Several deep, personal losses are addressed in one section. This statement was made on the loss of a friend. “Accepting the death of a friend and grieving your loss can be complicated by the fact that others may not appreciate how much the friendship meant to you. That is because a friend is someone with whom you have shared experiences, confidences, laughter and tears” (11).
A dictionary definition of “friend” includes the concept of a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts – a favored companion.
Selected Biblical References to Friends
Job lost all of his material possessions and all ten of his children in one day! Shortly afterwards, he was stricken with boils from his head to his feet. In his agony he said, “He [God] has removed my brothers far from me, and my acquaintances are completely estranged from me. My relatives have failed, and my close friends have forgotten me” (Job 19:13-14). Job’s three friends gave him the greatest comfort when they sat in silence with him for an entire week (Job 2:11-13).
King Solomon is credited with many of the Proverbs. These inspired passages give us God’s divine insight on friends.
Cornelius Called His Friends to Hear the Gospel Message
The account of Cornelius being instructed to send for Peter in the city of Joppa to hear the Gospel message is recorded in Acts 10:1-8. An angel of God instructed Peter to go with the men that Cornelius had sent to him. Acts 10:24 states, “And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.” Cornelius demonstrated tremendous love and spiritual concern for his close friends with this one-of-a-kind invitation.
Jesus Called His Disciples Friends
Jesus declared in John 15:13-15, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”
The Biblical Friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18 – 23)
The family of King Saul is listed in 1 Samuel 14:49-51. Jonathan was Saul’s eldest son. The profound relationship that developed between David and Jonathan took place after David killed Goliath, as recorded in 1 Samuel 17.
When David returned from killing Goliath, Saul asked David whose son he was. David told Saul he was the son of Jesse. First Samuel 18:1-2 reads, “Now when he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul [the life of Jonathan was bound up with the life of David]. Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.”
1 Samuel 18:3-4 says, “Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.”
As their friendship grew stronger, David became aware of Saul’s continuous plotting to have him killed. When David told Jonathan, he did not believe him. They met and talked about how David would escape the wrath of Saul, who was more determined than ever to kill David! First Samuel 20:42 says, “Then Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, May the LORD be between your descendants and my descendants, forever. So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.” This agreement lasted until Jonathan’s death.
Jonathan was a man content to be second. He knew he would never succeed his father as king. With true humility he said to David, “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. Even my father Saul knows that” (1 Samuel 23:17).
Jonathan and David made a second covenant. “So the two of them made a covenant before the LORD. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house” (1 Samuel 23:18). They parted as close as two friends could ever be.
The Philistines killed Jonathan and his brothers on Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:1-2). Saul committed suicide after being severely wounded. Saul, his sons and all his men died together that same day (1 Samuel 31:3-6).
David’s lament and eulogy is notable when he heard of the death of Saul and Jonathan. “Then David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son… The beauty of Israel is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! …From the blood of the slain from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, and the sword of Saul did not return empty. Saul and Jonathan were beloved and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions” (2 Samuel 1:17-23).
David continued to express his grief in 2 Samuel 1:24-27 as he said, “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet, with luxury; who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan was slain in your high places. I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; you have been very pleasant to me; your love to me was wonderful, surpassing the love of women. How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!”
After David was crowned king, 2 Samuel 8:15 states, “So David reigned over all Israel; and David administered judgment and justice to all the people.” His judgment and justice is seen when David fulfilled his covenant to Jonathan through his son, Mephibosheth. Second Samuel 9:1 reads, “Now David said, ‘Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’” There was a servant in the house of Saul who told David, “There is still a son of Jonathan who is lame in his feet” (2 Samuel 9:3b).
David asked where he was, and he sent for Mephibosheth. He fell on his face and prostrated himself before the throne of David (2 Samuel 9:6). “So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually” (2 Samuel 9:7). David told the servant of Saul that his grandson Mephibosheth would eat at his table like one of the king’s sons. “So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem, for he ate continually at the king’s table. And he was lame in both his feet” (2 Samuel 9:13). King David’s actions toward Jonathan’s son were most befitting the nature of true friendship.
“Truly great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget.” (G. Randolf)
Fargo, Donna. “Friends Are Special Treasures.” The Language of Friendship. Boulder: Blue Mountain Press, 1999.
When a Loved One Dies: Coping with Grief. San Antonio: The USAA Educational