The Friend Of God

Calvary Chapel

Of all the fascinating people that make up the historic narrative of the Bible, one of my favorites is David, Israel’s most famous king.

There are several reasons why David is given more time and attention than almost any other person in Scriptures.

Chiefly, because of ‘who’ he was. God said, speaking through the prophet Samuel, that David was “a man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14/Acts 13:22). No one else in the Bible gets such prestigious credentials from God as David.

But what does that actually mean?

It doesn’t mean that David was perfect. Far from it. David was a man like the rest of us. Broken and given to grievous lapses of faithlessness. But despite his failures, David truly stood alone and unique in his relationship to God. The Word of God teaches that David was a shepherd in his youth, spending years out in the open country, tending his father’s flocks. The countless hours spent caring for them, the long nights spent under the moonlit skies led David to many great revelations about God and his relationship to him. This is how we, today, ended up with so many of David’s classic writings, like Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd…” All that time and experience left a permanent mark on David’s heart about the nature of God, His works and His ways. It highlights at least one of the things about David that endeared him to God, the fact that he was a passionate worshipper. David had an incredible capacity to see God in the good times as well as the bad. We can read of the incredible intimacy David enjoyed with God in Psalm 139, or of his ability to find hope even when it felt like God was a million miles away, as in Psalm 13.

But it’s not only ‘who’ David was that made him a man after God’s heart, but ‘what’ David did as well. David faith found its way into his real-life decisions and actions. David slew the giant Philistine Goliath out of zeal for God’s name and reputation. By faith, David persevered through years of difficulty, living as a fugitive from the first King of Israel, Saul, who pursued him relentlessly, seeking to end his life. David remained faithful to God even when the throne that He had promised him seemed like a logistical impossibility. Once finally upon the throne, David did what no other king in Israel’s future would ever do; unite the nation successfully under a Theocratic Monarchy. Israel would enjoy an unparalleled season of peace, unity and prosperity by the time David’s reign ended.

As much as I’d love to enlarge on the character of David, along with all his accomplishments, this article isn’t actually about him. It’s about the one man that seemed to have more influence on David’s life than anyone else: Jonathan.

The Bible states that Jonathan was David’s friend and his closest ally during David’s early years prior to the throne. We are told in 1 Samuel 18:1, “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” It goes on to say a few verses later, “Jonathan made a covenant with David” which included Jonathan giving David his “robe, armor, sword, bow and belt” (verses 3-4).

None of this is all that interesting until you realize exactly who Jonathan was. He was the son of the first, and current king of Israel, Saul. In other words, as the son of the king, Jonathan was next in line for the throne.

The reason this is so significant is because it demonstrates how radical Jonathan’s friendship to David was. It explains why Jonathan had such a powerful impact on David’s life. Jonathan’s father Saul had disqualified himself from being king, and Jonathan knew that David, not himself, was to be the successor. Because of his shared faith in God (1 Samuel 14), Jonathan was willing to give up all the power and privilege the throne promised him out of love for David, his friend.

Jonathan didn’t reluctantly or grudgingly accept this turn in events, but fully embraced it and saw it as his divine privilege to help David reach his God-given calling. Jonathan gave David his heart first, then his throne, and finally his life.

Jonathan is portrayed in Scripture as the most selfless and sacrificial friend anyone could ever possibly ask for.

And the most amazing thing about Jonathan’s friendship to David is that it serves as a powerful picture of the same friendship God has offered to us through Jesus Christ.

One of Jesus’ most famous sayings is in the Gospel of John, 15:13, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This wasn’t some glib feel-good saying with no substance. Jesus lived it out in flesh and blood. “I have called you friends” he would say to his followers shortly before laying down His life for them.

One of the most famous verses in the Bible puts it this way, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

As beautiful as Jonathan’s friendship was to David, in was only a shadow of what Jesus’ friendship towards us encompasses.

The Good news, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is that He, the Son of God and eternal King, has come from heaven and given us His heart, given His life for us on the cross, and shared with us His throne (Revelation 1:6) and His glorious reign (Revelation 20:6).

Like Jonathan, Jesus didn’t do this reluctantly, but in joyful anticipation of the salvation and life it would provide for those who believe. John 10:17 “I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”

The Son of God momentarily clothed Himself in humanity and walked the earth as a man, that we might receive His ‘robes’ of righteousness and live immortally. 2 Corinthians 5:21 reads, “He (God) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we (who believe) might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Nowhere else in any religious system will you find such a radical display of love, humility, selflessness and sacrifice for the likes of you and I. Nowhere else will you find a God whose heart it is to be your friend. And yet we are told that through Christ, this is exactly what God made possible. Through Jesus’ death on the cross and through His resurrection, through faith in His name and in His sacrifice, we are told that those who believe in Him, it is credited to them as righteousness, and they are “…called God’s friend.” James 2:23

By Pastor Tim Mattox
Paphos Calvary Chapel

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