We all long to have great friends. We want to know that we are part of something worthwhile with people who believe in us, support us and share life with us. The big challenge is recognizing who these people are. Without saying it, we are all asking, “What does a great friend look like?”

1 Samuel 19:1-7 gives us a snapshot into one of the greatest friendships in the Bible. Jonathan is the King’s son who, by all rights, ought to be the heir to the throne.  David is the local hero who was declared by the prophet to be the next King of Israel. Based on this, the two should not have been trusting comrades. Jonathan should have been wary and suspicious of David. David ought to have been on guard against Jonathan. Instead, they formed an epic alliance based on true friendship. What was it about this friendship that made it work so well and what is it about great friends that draw us to them?

1. They Like Us

Every one of us is highly talented and, at the same time, inconveniently quirky. As a result, some people like to be around us while others find us uninteresting or intolerable. Our great friends like to be around us, find us fascinating and enjoy our company. (1 Samuel 19:1)

2. They Speak Well Of Us

We all thrive on encouragement and we trust those who say good things about us. Jonathan saw David as a winner and a loyal member of his dad’s kingdom. He enthusiastically reminded his father of how much he had benefited from David’s involvement. In the same way, the people who recognize your value and talk up your strengths will gain a trusted place in your heart. (1 Samuel 19:4)

3. They Defend Our Reputation

Since we live in a greedy, competitive world, others will unjustly criticize us – or worse. Jonathan told David, “My father Saul is looking for a chance to kill you. Be on your guard tomorrow morning.” (1 Samuel 19:2) Sometimes the criticism is well-founded, but in this case, it was driven by jealously. Jonathan was loyal to his dad but he knew his assessment of David was incorrect, so he stood up for his friend. “Let not the king do wrong to his servant David; he has not wronged you, and what he has done has benefited you greatly.” (1 Samuel 19:4) Our friends will defend us when they hear others speaking ill of us. They will stand by us when we face unfair circumstances and will challenge the untrue conclusions others have made about us. They know we are not perfect, but they believe we are better than the negative statements others make.

Who in your life genuinely likes you, speaks well of you and defends your reputation? Send each of them a note (text, email or handwritten) thanking them for being great friends in your life. Then, take time to consider whether you’ve lived up to these examples of true friendship.

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