Friendship is a fragile thing, but it can endure for a lifetime. When Jonathan and David made their covenant of friendship after David defeated Goliath on the battlefield, they gave their friendship as a gift to each other and it enriched their lives.
And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul … Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle. —1 Samuel 18:1-4, KJV
Jonathan saved David’s life when David was hiding from Saul in the woods. He seeks him out and warns him, standing by him, doing his best to help him and be the best possible friend he can be. They renew their covenant and strengthen their bonds. Despite distance and adversity, Jonathan is there for David when he needs him most.
And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house. —1 Samuel 23:16-18
Friendships take work and both individuals must maintain and cherish them. Each party should enjoy the successes and share the struggles of the other. When one person comes to resent the other friend’s successes, that puts a strain on the friendship.
When Jonathan’s father, Saul, became jealous of his “adopted son,” David, because of the praise of the crowds and his reputation for slaying thousands on the battlefield, Saul plotted to kill David on several occasions. David’s faith persevered and the triumphant warrior and Michal loved one another despite all the obstacles and plots.
When Jonathan perishes in battle, David grieves, writing him a lament honoring him as a beloved friend and valiant warrior. He includes Saul in this lament, despite the acts perpetrated by his erstwhile mentor. David and Jonathan are true friends with a bond forged by life and love. Saul can’t destroy this friendship and neither can wars or distance.
You don’t choose your friends, your friends choose you. Perhaps it’s a meeting of the souls, or God’s plan. Jealousy has no place in a true friendship, where successes and failures are celebrated together, whether close at hand or at a distance. If you join in the covenant of friendship with another person, it should be done carefully, with the heart, because it should last for as long as humanly possible.
These days, social media makes it easy to share successes, but also easy to become resentful. Just remember: no one sees the struggle before the triumph on social media. When you love a friend, let jealousy go. Let resentment disappear and triumph alongside your friend, showing your love, devotion and, yes, your covenant of friendship with that person.
If you are ill, rejoice in the health of your friends; if they succeed, celebrate their successes. When friends need you, be there in spirit if not in person, encouraging them to persevere in their struggles. If you are blessed enough to have friends in your life, follow John’s advice.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. —1 John 4:7, KJV