As I prepare to teach during Children’s church this weekend, I want to write out my thoughts in article form so that I can think through the teaching process as well as share what I have been learning with you. I will be teaching on friendship based on Jonathan and David’s godly friendship. Their story is an amazing one and it parallels Christ’s friendship with us, how we benefit from it, and then how we are motivated to pass this blessing on to others by befriending them and introducing them to our friend, Jesus Christ.
I. A godly friend seeks to befriend people who do not have many friends
Jonathan was the son of the king. In our modern lingo, he would have been the cool kid in school. He had the best clothes. He came from a rich family. He had an extremely bright future. Everyone would have wanted to be his friend. He could have befriended anyone he wanted. He would have had all of the coolest toys and gadgets. David, on the other hand, lived an entirely different life. Although God wanted to choose him and anoint him as future king, in I Samuel 16, we see that David is an outcast. His own family did not have much to do with him. In fact, when it was time to present the children to Samuel so that he could choose the next king of Israel, no one bothered telling David to come to the meeting. They had actually forgotten about him. Jonathan chose to befriend David for David’s benefit. In reality, Jonathan and David should have been enemies because Jonathan would have been next in line to be king and David would have been his competition. Jonathan did not think in those terms though because he loved God and wanted to do what was pleasing to God. He befriended David and promised to help and protect him. Most people seek to befriend others for the benefits that they attain from the friendship. A godly friend is not like that. He befriends others so that he can serve them and help them, for their benefit and not his own. Why do you seek to befriend others? What motivates you? Do you seek to befriend the popular people so that you can benefit from the friendship or, like Jonathan, do you seek to befriend people who do not have many friends so that you can serve them?
II. A godly friend seeks to serve his friends
When Jonathan and David promised to be friends for life, they made a covenant with each other and while making the covenant, they exchanged robes, weapons, and belts. Jonathan, the son of the king, exchanged his robe (cool kid, expensive clothes) with David (poor shepherd boy). Jonathan also exchanged his weapons (king’s weapons) with David (poor shepherd boy’s sling shot). In other words, Jonathan promised to serve David even though he was the son of the king and David was a lonely, poor shepherd boy. Jonathan was faced with a terrible dilemma because he had promised to be David’s friend, to help and protect him yet David had an enemy, king Saul. The problem with this was that king Saul was Jonathan’s father. Jonathan did not know what to do. He wanted to obey his father because that is what God commands yet his father was being disobedient to God, to the point where he wanted to kill David. Jonathan chose to be obedient to God and protect his friend David. When it comes to friends, do you want them to serve you or do you seek to serve them? Who benefits mostly from your friendships, you or your friends?
III. A person who has a godly friend will seek to be a godly friend
All that Jonathan did for David was not forgotten and it was not done in vain. A lot of people think that, “if I serve others then who will serve me?” There are benefits to serving others. David learned from Jonathan and he put that knowledge into practice. Unfortunately for Jonathan, he and his father Saul were killed in battle leaving David to be king of Israel just like God had promised. David did not forget about his friendship with Jonathan. Unfortunately for Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, he did not know about David’s devotion to his friend Jonathan. Because of not knowing this, Mephibosheth tried to run away from David for fear of his life. He was actually being carried by his nurse because he was so young. She dropped him in her haste and he was crippled for life as a result. He went from being the grandson of the king to living in poverty. David sent out word to find Jonathan’s son so that he could bless him the way that Jonathan had blessed him. When David found Mephibosheth, he brought him to the palace and sat him at his table. Mephibosheth went from poverty to the king’s table almost over night. David learned how to be a godly friend from Jonathan and he passed that friendship on to Jonathan’s son. Because David had a godly friend, he knew how to be a godly friend. Just like he was served by Jonathan, he served Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth. Do you have a godly friend in your life who is teaching you how to be a godly friend? Are you seeking to be a godly friend to others?
IV. The story of Jonathan and David is a mirror image of Jesus Christ and people
As I was preparing this lesson I could not help but notice all of the similarities between what Jonathan did for David and what Jesus Christ did for us. Jesus, the Son of the King, left heaven to walk this earth so that he could befriend us, his enemies. Not only did He befriend us but He also promised to help us. He exchanged with us. He took our sin and gave us heaven. He gives us His name, His Holy Spirit, His power over sin, and His eternal life. Once we experience this friendship, we want to extend it to others. We seek out people who are suffering, hurting, unpopular, in order to befriend them and share Jesus Christ with them. Have you experienced Jesus Christ’s friendship? Are you actively seeking to befriend those in need so that you can serve them and introduce them to your friend Jesus? May the Lord help us experience His friendship so that we can be godly friends to others.