← Back to Study Guides
David and The Good Life | Friendship
October 2, 2022
1 Samuel 18:1-9
1As 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. 2And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.
6As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. 7And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,
“Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands.”
8And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9And Saul eyed David from that day on.
The story of Jonathan and David that begins to unfold in this passage is one of the enduring accounts of deep friendship seen in the Bible. We are introduced to David and Jonathan’s friendship immediately after David’s victory over Goliath. The author of 1 Samuel repeatedly reminds us about the Lord’s presence with David (16:18; 17:37, 46-47). The narrator of 1 Samuel wants his readers to identify the historical as well as theological significance of the story of David. David’s victory over Goliath made him a national hero. He was no longer an insignificant shepherd boy who served as Saul’s personal musician and armor bearer. Furthermore, David was also entitled to marry Saul’s daughter (17:24-25).
The author masterfully presents the contrasting relational dynamics of Saul and his family with David. Saul is angry at David, and he is jealous of David’s success and popularity. Saul’s anger manifests in his multiple attempts to kill David. While Saul is presented as David’s enemy who is determined to kill David, we see Jonathan as David’s friend who makes a covenant to be loyal to David, and to protect his family. Saul, in his sinful rebellion, utterly fails to recognize the significance of David’s messianic anointing and kingship, whereas Jonathan, the crown prince and the rightful heir to replace Saul, does not treat David as a threat. Unlike Saul, Jonathan acknowledges David’s messianic anointing and kingship. We see Jonathan’s deep friendship and loyalty in his covenantal act of stripping himself of his robe, armor, sword, bow and belt and handing it over to David. Jonathan’s covenant with David significantly impacts the story of David. This passage yet again highlights the providential hand of God at work in David’s life—God used the very family members of David’s enemy to protect and sustain David to accomplish his purposes.
In his sermon on this passage, Jason focused on the theme of friendship between Jonathan and David. Jason encouraged us to ask three important questions as it pertains to friendship—why do we need it, what is it, and how do we get it? David needed friendship as his life was unimaginably hard. Saul was determined to kill David, and David was constantly on the run to save his life. David needed a friend who could stand by him, who could help him navigate the stresses and strains of life, and Jonathan was that friend. Jason defined friendship as “a shared bond that rises from a deep unity of spirit and common purpose.” In this passage we see the unity of spirit in Jonathan’s friendship with David (18:1b). We also see the beauty of sharing a common purpose unfold in this passage. Jonathan acknowledged David’s kingship as God’s will. He makes a commitment with David in the form of a covenant. He promised to stand alongside David to help him accomplish the purpose of God in and through David’s life. Jason asked a couple of applicatory questions in his sermon—how do we get friends like Jonathan? Where do we find friendships like Jonathan and David? Jason pointed to church as the place to find and foster deep friendships.
As you begin your discussion on the theme of friendship, I would encourage you to reflect on Jason’s insightful observation: “The problem that most of us have is that we assume that everybody else is happy, that everybody else has their group of friends, and we are the one person who’s left out. We’re waiting for someone to reach out to us and to befriend us. But what if we all made the first move? What if we all took the first step to seek a friendship with someone else? That might just change the trajectory of your time in New York City. That might change the whole trajectory of your life.”
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Lord Jesus, we long to know you better. As we make our way in this world, we search for signs that you are with us. Give us a glimpse of your glorious presence, and show us your ways. May our lives ring out the marvelous message of your goodness, your mercy, and your love. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 111:1-10
1Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them.
3Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
4He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
the Lord is gracious and merciful.
5He provides food for those who fear him;
he remembers his covenant forever.
6He has shown his people the power of his works,
in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy;
8They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9He sent redemption to his people;
He has commanded his covenant forever.
Holy and awesome is his name!
10The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever!
1. Looking at the Bible
What does the text say?
- In verse 1 we see the author describe the beginning of Jonathan’s friendship with David. How should we interpret the “knitting” of Jonathan’s soul to David, and Jona than’s love for David as “his own soul?”
- In verse 3 we read about Jonathan’s covenant with David. What is a covenant, and how is it different from a contract?
- What prompted Jonathan to enter into a covenant with David? Why did Jonathan sacrifice his future kingship to David? (see verse 4)
2. Looking at Jesus
At Central we believe that all of Scripture points to Jesus. Jesus is the theological center of the Bible. Every passage not only points to Jesus, but also the grand narrative of the bible finds its fulfillment in Jesus.
- What do we learn about Jesus from this passage, particularly from Jonathan and David?
- How does Jonathan’s sacrificial act and his covenant with David point us to Jesus?
- In John 15, Jesus addresses the disciples as his friends. What do we learn about Jesus’ friendship with us from this passage?
3. Looking at Our Hearts
This passage highlights the relational dynamics of one family. The author gives us a glimpse into the hearts of Saul and Jonathan. Saul is filled with bitterness, murderous rage, and extreme jealousy against David. We have already learned about Saul’s mental health as it pertains to his relationship with God as a king. The Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, leaving him in distress. We also get a glimpse of Jonathan’s heart in this passage. Jonathan is loyal, sacrificial, and loving towards David. Jonathan’s loyalty to David indicates his understanding of God’s will in David’s life.
- What can we learn about the importance of our relationship with God from Saul and Jonathan’s life?
- What can we learn about our friendship with Jesus from Jonathan’s friendship with David?
4. Looking at Our World
- How is this passage hopeful for Christians living in a city like New York where friendships are often limited to social media interactions?
- Jason encouraged us to make the first move in meeting someone new at church, or at your workplace. How does this passage motivate you in being the instrument of Christ in his mission of reconciling sinners and making them friends of God?
May the God of mercy keep you, the Holy Spirit cheer you, and Christ in glory greet you, now and at the day of his coming.
View Study Guide Notes
Question 1: In his sermon, Jason defined friendship as “a shared bond that rises from a deep unity of spirit and common purpose.” The author’s description of the beginnings of Jonathan’s friendship with David emphasizes the common spirit aspect of friendship—”Jonathan’s soul was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved David as his own soul.” C.S Lewis said that friendship is born the very moment when one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.” Be sure to emphasize the “common spirit” aspect of friendship. Friends see the same truth, and that in turn fosters the deep unity of spirit.
Jonathan’s actions in this passage could bring up questions like, “what is a covenant?” or “why would Jonathan enter into such a covenant?” According to Jason, true friends not only share a common spirit, but they also share a common commitment. A covenant, simply put, is a relationship based on promises. A covenant relationship entails both privileges and responsibilities. Although a covenant appears to be the same thing as a contract, there are some significant differences between the two. A contract is a mutual agreement between two parties motivated by self-interest. For instance, a real estate contract. A contract is considered void or null if either party fails to keep their end of the bargain. In covenant, however, both the parties make “binding promises of love and loyalty to one another in order to accomplish something together that they could never do on their own.” Marriage and church membership are examples of a covenantal relationship.
In an individualistic culture like ours, Jonathan’s sacrifice is seen as highly impulsive, or as a spontaneous act of generosity. However, according to Jason, true friends not only share a common spirit, and a common commitment, but also a common vision. Jonathan’s actions can only be described as an outworking of a common vision that he shared with David. What was that vision? It was God’s vision that David, rather than Jonathan, would become the anointed king of Israel. True friends share a common vision of seeking God’s glory together—a vision that you are not meant to accomplish on your own.
Question 2: The story of David and Jonathan’s friendship emphasizes our need for seeking and fostering deep friendships. In your discussion, emphasize the reality that no matter how strong our friendships are, we are only human—sooner or later, even the best of friends will let us down. In the pages of Scripture, we learn about a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24). In other words, the purpose of the Scriptures is to reveal to us that there is indeed a friend who is greater than Jonathan—he is a friend who does not break a bruised reed (Matthew 12:20), and who is called a mighty counselor who helps us navigate the stresses and strains of life. He is Jesus Christ. The covenantal friendship between David and Jonathan is not only given to us as a paradigm for true friendships, but it is meant to prepare us for the ultimate friendship that we can enjoy with God in and through Jesus Christ. Therefore, everything about David and Jonathan’s friendship is meant to point us to Jesus ultimately.
Be prepared to answer the question: how exactly does Jonathan’s friendship with David point us to Jesus. You could answer this question by pointing to:
- Covenant: Jonathan’s covenant with David points us to God’s covenant with his people The concept of God’s covenant is the central theme, or the underlying motif, that runs throughout Scripture, and finds its fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus. The grand redemptive narrative of the Bible highlights God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to his people, and Jesus’ fulfillment of the covenantal obligations on behalf of sinners, through his life, death, and resurrection.
- Sacrifice: Jonathan’s sacrifice of his royal power is one of the most moving scenes in all of Scripture. Jonathan relinquishes his claim to the throne. But Jesus’ sacrifice is infinitely costly. As Jason said in his sermon, “Jesus gave up his royal rights, his royal status, his royal position, as God’s one and only Son. He came to us not only as a human being, but in the form of a servant and was willing to do for us what we could never do for ourselves.”
- Loyalty: Jonathan was firm in his loyalty to David. He was willing to risk his life for David, but Jesus actually lost his life for you on the cross. Only Jesus is our loyal friend who opens his own heart to us, calls us his friends, and reconciles us to his Father, giving us the privilege to address God as our Father.
Question 3: We have already established how David as the anointed king points to Jesus as the ultimate messianic king. Jonathan was around 20 years older than David, and as the crown prince, he was the rightful heir to the throne. However, in this passage we see Jonathan recognize David for who he truly is—the anointed one of the Lord. While Saul, blinded by his sin, attempts to kill David, Jonathan, led by the spirit of the Lord, acknowledges David, and honors him. Jonathan’s actions—ascribing to David what rightfully belongs to him, should teach us to ascribe to Jesus what truly belongs to him. Jonathan does not hold on to his power. He gives it up in order for David to accomplish what God had set before him. Encourage the group to introspect the ways in which they rob the glory that rightfully belongs to Jesus. Emphasize the danger of spiritual blindness—seeking power, validation, and success relying on our strength. Stress the need to acknowledge God’s presence and power in all that we do, as all glory rightfully belongs to God.
Question 4: In his sermon, Jason encouraged us to seek and foster friendships at Central. Jason particularly emphasized the value of intergenerational friendships. Ask somebody from the group to read this quote from the sermon:
“The problem that most of us have is that we assume that everybody else is happy, that everybody else has their group of friends, and we are the one person who’s left out. We’re waiting for someone to reach out to us and to befriend us. But what if we all made the first move? What if we all took the first step to seek a friendship with someone else? That might just change the trajectory of your time in New York City. That might change the whole trajectory of your life.”
Encourage the group to get involved in the life of church like volunteering at The Bowery Mission, Reading Buddies, Safe Families, and other ministries at Central.