The Bible is full of fascinating stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, stories of friendships are demonstrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. God wants us to have relationships—not just of the marital and familial kind, but deep and abiding friendships as well. True friendship provides us with support, love and enjoyment and is nothing short of a gift from God.
Of all the friendships in the Bible, the friendship of David and Jonathan is extraordinary. David was a young shepherd and Jonathon was a prince, the son of King Saul, and was in line to inherit the throne. David became known to the king because he slayed the giant Goliath. When David was meeting with Saul after he killed Goliath, he also met Jonathan, and they began an immediate friendship. Both men were of deep faith and formed an instant bond.
1 Samuel 18 describes their friendship: “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” But this friendship almost didn’t happen.
David and Jonathan had seemed destined to become enemies. Jonathan was the next in line to become king; however, David was appointed by God to replace Saul. David and Jonathan knew this was God’s plan, but what if Jonathan had hoped of becoming king? The Bible tells us that Jonathan was a man of faith who followed God’s plan and demonstrated his loyalty to David as he had vowed.
Unfortunately, Saul did not feel the same way. Saul was jealous of David and when learning of God’s plan to make David next in line to the throne, he made plans to kill David. Jonathan was conflicted between loyalty to his friend and loyalty to his father. After Saul plotted several unsuccessful attempts to kill David, Jonathan helped David escape as a refugee.
Jonathan continued to serve in battle for his father against the Philistines, who were the enemies of Israel. It was during one such battle that Jonathan was killed, along with his two brothers, and Saul ended up taking his own life.
David never forgot his vow to Jonathan and honored him by composing “The Song of the Bow” and instructing all the children of Israel to learn it. After Jonathan’s death, David also took in Jonathan’s disabled son as part of his own family. The true friendship between Jonathan and David is a shining example of sacrificial love and loyalty.