VIRTUOUS REALITY SERMON SERIES
FRIENDS ARE FRIENDS FOREVER – DAVID AND JONATHAN
OCTOBER 1, 1995
David had just pulled off the upset of the century. This Hebrew hick, this shepherd boy, this young man who had never even worn an Israeli uniform or had never taken a sword in his hand had just beaten the greatest, most awesome fighting machine the world had ever known, that nine foot, nine inch tall giant named Goliath. Put yourself for a second in David’s sandals. David, at one moment is on the hillside in obscurity tending his father’s sheep, he defeats the giant and the next moment he is the toast of the town, the hero of the nation. Overnight success, overnight stardom, overnight prosperity, David is the man of the hour. What an upset. It would be like Don Knotts defeating Mike Tyson. You can imagine what would happen.
I Samuel 18. Saul, King Saul, the man who should have fought Goliath was leading the victorious Israelites back home. All the troops were following King Saul and he had near him the new hero, David, the man who had saved the day, the man who had pulled them through. And people began to rush around the army and throw a ticker tape parade, kind of like we did when the Cowboys won the Super Bowls. Everybody was going nuts, pandemonium had broken out, they were dancing and singing. And they began singing a song that really got on Saul’s nerves. “Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands. Saul has slain his thousands, but David his tens of thousands.” Now you can take a wild guess what that did to Saul. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that Saul was jealous of David. His star was waning and David’s was on the rise. Saul didn’t have the courage to fight Goliath. David was the man and it really got under Saul’s skin, especially when this song made the top of the billboard charts. It was played on every radio station, even on MTV. It spoke of Saul only killing thousands, David, tens of thousands. People couldn’t stand it if they were in Saul’s camp. But most of them were on David’s side.
Saul felt pressure and he put David in charge of the military. Everything that David touched turned to gold. It was successful. He brought leadership and motivation and encouragement to the troops, even the old time soldiers, those old Hebrew marines, loved him. There was something about David. He had the spirit of God in his life. He had that touch, that charisma, that you couldn’t really put your finger on but he had it. It’s tough to deal with success. Thomas Carlisle said, “For every one person who can stand up under success, there are one hundred people who can stand up under adversity.” The greatest test for many of us will be when success comes. David was successful and during this juncture handled success beautifully.
Saul, though, became so hateful of David that he wanted to kill this young man. Are you ready for that? David had delivered them, David was the catalyst for their victory yet Saul wanted to take his life. For ten years, the Bible says, David did the Harrison Ford thing, he became the fugitive. For ten years he eluded Saul and his followers who were trying to take his life. During this period in David’s life something miraculous takes place. It is something that I want to spend the lion’s share of our time talking about this morning. During this time, the greatest friendship in the history of the world develops, the friendship between Jonathan, Saul’s son, and David. Let’s face it, we all love relationships. We want to have friends, true friendships, people who will be in our corner when we feel cornered, people who don’t rub it in but rub it out, people who love us for who we are. We want friends. The book, HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, is the second best seller over the last 100 years behind the Bible. We are built, we yearn for community, to connect with someone. God is a God who relates with us and He wants us to continue to relate with human beings.
I want to share with you five things we can do today to build a Jonathan and David type relationship in our lives. And these five things come from the life of David and Jonathan. You will see them on the outline included in your bulletin called, Friends Are Friends Forever. You see the five blanks? Over the next few minutes I am going to get you to fill in those blanks and when you fill them in, think of the relationships that you are dealing with. Think about your closest friends. Think about how you can improve the relationship. Think about new relationships you can develop.
Number one. Take the initiative. Take the initiative. Great friendships are built when someone takes the initiative. God took the initiative with us by sending Jesus Christ, Jesus took the initiative when the disciples followed Him. He didn’t say, “Well, if you think about it, follow Me.” He said, “You, come and follow me.” “You, be a part of my family.” Jonathan took the initiative with David. Now check this out. Jonathan was royalty. He was the son of Saul. He had multi-zillions, was well educated, well groomed. He was the heir to the throne. On the other hand you have the Hebrew hick named David. He had spend year after year on the hillsides with his flocks. You are talking about Jonathan having to cross a serious chasm politically, socially, economically. He reached down and out to David. Jonathan did it. I don’t care how hard David might have tried, he could have never gotten on Jonathan’s level because they were very different. Yet the Bible says that Jonathan took the initiative. He took the relational risk. And these two guys should have been clashing. Jonathan, heir to the throne, David, anointed the next king of Israel, they should have clashed. Instead, a great connection occurred. The Bible says this in I Samuel 18:1. “Jonathan became one in spirit with David.” This phrase, one in spirit, literally means their hearts were chained together. “Jonathan became one in spirit (chained) with David, and he loved him as himself.” Jonathan took the initiative.
Look at I Samuel 18:3. “And Jonathan made a covenant with David.” There were three individuals in this covenant, Jonathan, David and God. A covenant was serious business, and Jonathan made that with David. David didn’t make it. It was Jonathan who took the initiative because, the Bible says, he loved him as himself. There is something tragic about the life of David that we will see over the next few weeks. When Jonathan died, David was never the same. When Jonathan passed away, David could no longer take his cues from him. When Jonathan passed away, David surrounded himself with a bunch of “yes” people. “You are the greatest, David.” “You are the man, David.” “You are talented, David.” And he forgot how to take the initiative and build a new relationship like he had had with Jonathan. He did not continue this process. Because he didn’t continue it, David fell. David was never the man he was when Jonathan was there because when Jonathan was in his life, God said that David was a man after His own heart.
The Bible continues in Proverbs 27:19. Before I read this verse let me ask you a question. How many of you looked in a mirror this morning before you showed up here in church? If you looked in a mirror, raise your hand. I can see some hands are not going up. I can tell. Yesterday my family and I ran in the Terry Fox Fun Run here in Las Colinas. After the race we were going into a restaurant and I just flipped down the visor and looked at myself to try to fix my unruly hair. I said, “Lisa, look at my hair, all this gray. I remember five years ago I had dark hair, not one strand of gray.” And I am looking at myself and I am thinking that I am aging a little bit. I am already 34. I am kind of slowing down. A mirror reflects what is on the outside. That is elementary, that is obvious. But, the Bible says, what you are really like, what I am really like is shown by the kind of friends that we choose. Great friendships are not accidental, they are intentional. And I can meet your friends, you can meet my friends and we can tell a lot about each other. The Bible says our friends show us who we really are, more so than a mirror. A mirror reflects a man’s face but what he is really like is shown by the kind of friend he chooses. Question. Is it possible to choose the wrong friends and mess up your life? Yes. It is possible to date the wrong people. It is possible to get in business with the wrong individuals. It is possible to play golf time and time again with the wrong foursome. And I can go on and on and on. It doesn’t matter who you are, if your closest friends are people who do not follow God, who do not really have Jesus as their top priority, then they can pull you down, they can pull me down and keep us from the great relational world that God has for us. Take the initiative. Choose the right friends. Be intentional about it. How do you do that. First, talk to God about it. Say, “God”, that’s right because His name is God, “I am built for relationships and my relationships right now are not the kind of relationships I want. Show me, put me in situations where I can meet some great friends. I want to have a Jonathan and David type of relationship, God. I want to have these qualities in my life. You can do it, God.” Talk to God about it.
A second suggestion. Take the risk and test the relational waters. How do you do that? You do that by exposing yourself to the kind of people, the kind of potential friends that you desire, and you do that within the church. The church should be a social place. It has to be a social place. Christianity is a relationship between ourselves and God, one on one, but also God has given us this desire to have other relationships with human beings to build us up, to help us, to guide us, to strengthen us. That is why we challenge you time and time again to make church a priority in your life, to worship God regularly. We also encourage you to get involved in the mid-sized groups. Here in our church we have Bible Alive classes for singles, for marrieds, for children, for youth. In these groups you can connect with people. Then we even break it down into smaller increments called home teams which meet together regularly. They are designed as incubators for relationships. We have athletics, we have men’s ministries, women’s ministries. Many different things in our church are built upon relationship and building those relationships. So I challenge you, don’t just hang out with the same people always. Take that risk, step out, pray about it and God will answer your prayers in a mighty, mighty way. If you could see what kind of relationships that God has for you, it would blow you away. God wants you to have deep and profound relationships. But it is up to you and me to take the initiative.
I have moved around a lot in my life. I lived in Irwin, NC, Canton, NC, Greenville, SC, Columbia, SC, Houston, TX, Tallahassee, FL, back to Houston, TX and now I am in Dallas. I plan on staying in Dallas for the rest of my life, but I have moved around a bunch. And I looked back this past week as I was studying this whole aspect of relationships and friendships and I thought about my closest friends. I have, I think, the greatest friends a man can possibly have. And I thought about those friendships and how they happened. Was I just walking down the street one day when someone whistled and asked me what was going on, how I was doing and suggested that we become best friends? Did they just call me one day? Did we just look at each other and kind of hit it off? No. I will tell you what happened. I took the initiative. I picked up the phone, I walked up to the person, I made the eye contact and developed the relationship. Now I know that all of us do not have a personality like mine that is maybe more aggressive relationally than others. But I don’t care whether you are an extrovert, an introvert or whatever kind of vert, you, if you will follow God’s plan, can have a Jonathan and David type of relationship. And there is no way I can be even half the person I am without my friends. Take the initiative.
Number two. Practice generosity. Practice generosity. I Samuel 18:4. “Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic and even his sword, and his belt.” True friendships have something in common that just flows and it is generosity. It is sharing, giving. Giving gifts, giving time, giving your talents to one another. Jonathan had everything to give. He was worth a squillion dollars. David had just a bunch of stinky, smelly sheep to give, an old staff his father had made for him, sandals that were worn out. Jonathan gave all this stuff to David. The Bible does not indicate that David was troubled about how to repay the favor. There was no way that David could ever, ever, ever return the favor. Great friends don’t keep score. “Well, you took me out last week to MacDonalds, I’ll take you out next week to MacDonalds.” “You took me out last week to I Fratilli, I’ll take you out next week to I Fratilli and we have got to even things.” “You gave me this tie, I will give you one just like it.” That is not true friendship. I have some friends and when they have given me gifts, there is no way that I could ever repay them. I can’t. Conversely, I have friends to whom I have given things and there is no way that they can ever repay me. I don’t worry about it because they are my great friends. We love each other. We don’t keep score. Are you generous with your friends? There is no such thing as a frugal friendship. The score keeping thing, the calculator thing, worrying about the one-upmanship, is not conducive to building a Jonathan-David relationship. Acts 20:35. Jesus, Himself, said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Giving. Practice generosity.
Number three. Be honest. Be honest with your friends. Now I am not talking about saying whatever comes into your mind. That always scares me when people say, “You know, I’m the kind of person who says whatever I think.” I will run from them. There are a lot of things that I think that I don’t say. There are a lot of things that you think that you don’t say either. Honesty has to be there though. Saul told his son, Jonathan, and all the attendants to kill David. But Jonathan was very fond of David and warned him. He had no hidden agendas. He said, “David, I am going to warn you, here is what is going down, here is what is happening.” And you will notice something about the life of Jonathan, Jonathan was loyal to his father and also he was loyal to David. He said, “My father, Saul, is looking for a chance to kill you, David, be on your guard. Tomorrow morning go into hiding and stay there.” A real friend is someone who is real. Real friends rarely preach to each other. They are just open, they let it all hang out to steal a phrase from the sixties. They are the real deal with one another, they cry, they rejoice, they pray, they share. A real friend is someone you can call on the phone and say, “Hey, this happened to me, this is incredible, this is great, I am so proud of myself.” And the friend doesn’t think you are bragging because this person is a friend.
Just think about Jonathan and David again. David was the toast of the town. Jonathan should have been the toast of the town and he still loved David, he still admired him, he still encouraged him even though his best friend was more successful than he. You talk about a test of friendship. What if your friend gets a promotion, your friend gets a pat on the back, your friend gets the publicity, your friend closes the deal, your friend gets the most clients? That is a true test. Are you honest? Proverbs 24:26. “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Singles, if you have kissed someone in the last twenty-four hours, lift your hands. See we have some honest people here. That’s good. Now if you are married, have you kissed someone in the last twenty-four hours. All right. This morning when I got up and put on my glasses, Lisa had been up for an hour already with the rest of the family. She is nice enough to let me sleep in often and especially on Sundays when I am facing three services. I walk into the twins room and see they are still asleep. They wake up and I help Lisa to bring the twins down the stairs. So I kiss the twins, and they kiss me back. I put them in their high chairs, they begin eating pancakes and fruit and all that stuff. Then I walk up to Lisa. For me to kiss Lisa is a very desirable thing because I love her and she loves me. I welcome those kisses. She even kisses me with morning breath. I gave her a kiss and I thought, man, this is great. What a way to start the day. Then I got dressed and now I am here. I welcome that. The Bible says that an honest answer should be like a kiss on the lips. I desired that from my wife, and if we have true honesty going on we should desire that, an honest answer, like we desire a kiss from someone we really want to kiss.
And here is how honesty must flown; a couple of suggestions for when you really speak the truth, maybe some hard words to a close friend of yours. First, never correct your friend in public. Correct your friend behind closed doors if you feel led to do so. Secondly, correct them, speak the truth when they are up not when they are down. You don’t want to say, “Oh well, you are down, let me tell you this too!” Thirdly, never, never give correction unless you also welcome that yourself. That is how to be honest with your friends. These suggestions have really proven effective in my personal life so I share them with you.
Take the initiative. Practice generosity. Be honest. Number four. Remain loyal. Remain loyal. Loyalty is something that we have forgotten here in our modern day culture. David was even loyal to Jonathan’s relatives even after Jonathan had died. Jonathan spoke well of David, the Bible says, to Saul, his father, and said to him, “Let not the king do wrong to his servant, David. He has not wronged you. And what he has done has benefited you greatly.” What an understatement. Jonathan, if he would have kept his mouth shut, would have slandered his friend, David. You see, friends who are loyal stand up. If you don’t say something because you don’t want to rock the boat, you are not being a true friend. When someone says something, maybe a negative comment about a friend, you stand up and say that you know that person and what is being said is wrong. And that is what Jonathan did. He stood up. Real friends take sides. Real friends are loyal. They had that covenant relationship. II Samuel 9:11. We are going to talk about one of Jonathan’s sons and this man definitely makes the all-name team, Mephibosheth. “So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the King’s sons.” If you want to read a great text, you study the whole life of Mephibosheth and Jonathan and David. It is some amazing stuff. Here is what happened. Jonathan and Saul had died. The kingdom was in disarray. Mephibosheth was taken by his nurse and they fled the palace. Mephibosheth was dropped, tragically, and he became crippled, handicapped. He became as obscure person. David consolidates everything, he is the King. He finds out about Mephibosheth and still being loyal to Jonathan, he brings him to the palace and tells him that he will become like one of his own sons. He also gave him all the property that had belonged to Jonathan and Saul. What loyalty. We need some of that in this hour, don’t we. Proverbs 17:17. “A true friend is always loyal.” Always loyal.
A friend of mine who was in the first service is an anchor man here in the metroplex, I will not mention his name to embarrass him. But if you are walking through the halls and say, “Hey, there’s an anchor man”, you are right, that’s him.” Every day he sits behind a desk and is talking. He has a great voice, by the way. He has got it down, this guy can do it. He has an earpiece on and while he is talking he will be receiving messages from the program’s directors. He can still make sense of the news he is reportingwhen they are giving him information on breaking stories. Just think, in over a year he will broadcast events and news to millions of people, millions of people. Now, have you ever had a so-called friend, someone you thought was really with you, and you told them something, some news, something that was near and dear to your heart and suddenly they became an anchor person. “Yes, and in Ed Young’s life this is what is happening.” “And Sally really needs prayer in this area.” All this done in the guise of being a strong, Christian brother or sister, yet they stab you and rip you apart and take loyalty and break it up and throw it out. That is not a true friend. True friends know how to keep secrets, they know how to remain loyal even after the death of one of them. That is what David did, he remained loyal.
Number five. Base your relationship on God. If you want to have a great friendship, the common denominator must be God. David and Jonathan had God as their passion. How many of you love to play golf? Raise your hands. Let me ask this gentleman right here. Now, I didn’t plan this and you know that I rarely call on people but would you please stand up and tell us your name so everyone can hear it. Peter Paulsen. Let’s give Peter a round of applause. The golfer, Peter Paulsen. Now Peter, how many times do you plan golf in a given month? Four times a month. Now what do you normally shoot? Eighty. Whoa. Now that might blow my illustration there, you are almost too good. OK, Peter, if you could critique your swing in about five seconds, what is the main problem you have with your golf swing? You swing too fast? And you think that if you really slowed your swing down then it would really improve your score. Ok. Now what if this would happen in Peter’s life. Let’s say Peter goes home and has a message on his answering machine. The message on the machine is from Jack Nicholas offering him six months of lessons at no charge at his convenience wherever he chooses. He is offering teaching which will definitely improve his score. Now, who in here thinks this guy, Peter, would say, “Jack, thank you I will accept your offer. I will build a relationship with you based on golf.” How many think he would do that? OK, that is elementary. But what if our man, Peter, said, “No, Jack, I really kind of doubt how good you are, I’ll just continue to read golf digest, I’ll continue to talk to local golf pros, I’ll continue to go to the PPA putt courses.” Don’t we think that that is crazy? Yet, translate that thought over to friendship. Here we have Jesus Christ, the ultimate pro, the person who authored friendship and He tells us, I will show you how to really have a Jonathan-David type relationship, I will mentor you, I will guide you. In fact, I have written it down for you. And if you do what I tell you, you can have friendships that will just rock your world. And most of us say, “I’ll just do it my own way, Jesus. I’ll be the kind of friend that I think I should be.” And then one day we will look back on our life and we will see how we have missed out on the greatest relationships we could have ever known because we said we wanted to do it ourselves. Are you saying that? I hope you are not. And if you are, change it and say, I want to invite Jesus to show me how to do it. Jonathan said to David, we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord. Both had a passion for God. I Samuel 14, long before David ever took on Goliath, Jonathan took on a number of Philistines. And here is what Jonathan said. “I can do it because God will deliver me.” And then David comes on the scene later and fights Goliath and David says, “I can take out this monster because God will deliver me.” They both had this reckless passion for God and God chained their souls together. I Samuel 23:17. “Jonathan went to David in Horesh and helped him find strength in the Lord.” David was depressed, David was down. The Bible says that Saul killed every single person that David even talked to while he was a fugitive. Yet Jonathan walked up to him and Jonathan strengthened him in the Lord. When your friends are down, you strengthen them in the Lord. Can you do that?
Finally, Romans 5:11 and this sums it up. Paraphrased it says, God wants to be our friend. The Bible says we rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done in dying for our sins, here is the kicker, making us friends with God. Now look at your outline again, the five points. Here is what God did. First, God took the initiative by sending Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, to die on Calvary for all of our shortcomings and rise again. God took the initiative. God didn’t cross His arms and say that He would let men and women try to build a relationship with Him. God didn’t do that because He knew we couldn’t get to Him. He took the initiative. Number two. God practiced generosity. You know what he does? Here’s the deal. I kind of feel like Ross Perot. Here’s the deal! Here is what He does. He offers us eternal life. He offers us forgiveness. He offers us purpose and power and strength. He offers us great relationships. He offers us a home in heaven. He is generous. Number three. He is honest with us. God says, here is your condition before Me. Here is the way to eternal life. Here is the way to have a clear conscious. Here is the way. This is it, this is truth. Number four. God remains loyal because the moment a person, a sinner in need of a savior receives Jesus Christ, He takes our hand and joins our hand with the Father’s hand and once the Father grasps our hand, He never lets go. Never. And the Bible says that Jesus, if we know Him personally, is in heaven right now telling the Father about our prayer requests that we can’t even articulate ourselves. That is loyalty. Number five. Base your relationship on God. God says, once you have met my Son, once you know Him personally, once you can walk into My presence, now base your major relationships on knowing Me. If you do that your friends will be friends forever.