) A Friend Closer Than A Brother

“If any man come to me, and hate not / reject identification with his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

David and Jonathan’s friendship provides a good example of the behaviors expected from a follower of the Chosen One. Everyone knows that David championed Israel, but do we know that Jonathan did also? Their shared beliefs and faith in action knit them together as the ultimate best friends “who sticketh closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin…And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven. When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits… (I Sam 13:1-6) Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines’ garrison, that is on the other side. And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines’ garrison, there was a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one was Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh. 

112366586_smallmed_1494300816And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few. And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart….And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armourbearer after him:

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and they fell before Jonathan; and his armourbearer slew after him…And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling. And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down one another….And Saul and all the people that were with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man’s sword [of the Philistines’] was against his fellow, and there was a very great discomfiture. Moreover the Hebrews that were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp from the country round about, even they also turned to be with the Israelites that were with Saul and Jonathan. Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle. So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.” (I Samuel 14) 

Naturally Jonathan’s fame as the champion of Israel spread throughout Israel. One man – make that two, including Jonathan’s faithful armourbearer – leading the defeat of 50-100,000 enemies! Can you not see all the boys throughout Israel play-acting this famous scene over and over, and daydreaming that one day he would be a hero like the Crown Prince? But only David acted in reality on a conviction that he could also trust in the God of Israel, and found salvation not only for himself and his family but for the whole nation of Israel through his faith in action.

Think about how little of the written word of God David had at his disposal on which to base his trust. All he needed was Genesis 3:15. The first principle to believe – and act on – is that the Promised Savior would reverse the curse of death in some mysterious way when a human would crush the head – utterly destroy leadership and all that follows – of the adversary. We can infer that because he acted on that – he personally crushed the head of the enemy of God’s people. Would there have been salvation if David and the men who followed him into battle had simply believed that God would send a deliverer? No.

“Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah…And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines…And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span [9-10 feet]Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel…So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him…And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. (I Samuel 17:1-52)

When David returned triumphant from battle, Jonathan had a choice to make – A) compete with this most evidently exceptional individual and become his enemy, or B) acknowledge his superiority and become his friend. Why? The prophet Samuel had publicly disinherited Saul without anointing his son. Jonathan had the choice to believe and act on the conviction that David was Yahweh’s Anointed king,

Samuel said unto Saul…thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, he [Saul] laid hold upon…his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.” (I Samuel 15:23-28)

Can you see how this image would have been in Jonathan’s – and Saul’s – minds’ eyes as Jonathan acts on his faith that the LORD has given David not just the victory that day, but the kingdom in the future – by handing him his mantle.

“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.” (I Samuel18:1-4) 

  • Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son [his future life] upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
  • And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:18-24)

What does that mean, to be a “friend of God?” It means to be in an intimate relationship, confiding your secrets, pledging loyalty and support forever to the same goals in life.

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…” (John 15:15-16)

David and Jonathan’s friendship provides a sterling example. Their shared beliefs and faith in action knit them together as the ultimate best friends.

Jonathan’s behavior towards David is exactly what anyone who claims to accept the son of David as their lord and savior must do – publicly surrender to his authority. Like his father Saul, and the rulers of Israel in Jesus’ day, Jonathan could have clung to his self-glorifying sense of power. But he stayed true to the LORD and to his anointed to the ultimate extent of surrendering even his life. Why?

Because his soul was knit with the Chosen One’s soul, i.e. his identity was now one with the LORD’s Anointed One, he truly loved this Christ. We can also infer from his actions in this life that he didn’t fear death because he also had faith in the resurrection when he would be reigning forever beside the Promised Deliverer.

And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should  kill David. But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself: And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee. And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain. (I Samuel 19:1-6) 

And David sware moreover, and said, Thy father certainly knoweth that I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, Let not Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved: but truly as the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death. Then said Jonathan unto David, Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will even do it for thee…Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die. And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger…for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David…David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the LORD, saying, The LORD be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. ” (I Samuel 20:3-42)

The covenant of everlasting peace between Jonathan and David was an extension of their relationship, and only made possible by Jonathan’s faith-based actions allying himself with David.

This is the same means by which all followers of the ultimate Chosen One / Christ are accepted into a covenantal relationship with God, whether under the old terms or the new.

“And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.” (Genesis 18:17-19)

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit…” (John 15:15-16)

Paradoxically, anyone who seeks “immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7) on God’s terms must accept that death is a prerequisite in order to be resurrected to new life.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions [permanent dwellings, eternal bodies for our souls]: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know [death]. ” (Joh 14:1-4) with “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:” (II Corinthians 5:1-3)

”Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:36-38)

Jesus is not just informing us that his followers need to die a physical death like he did in order to resurrect with a new body, because some believers will not experience death at the moment of regeneration.

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52)

He is telling us that we need to die to our body’s drives and our soul’s self will during this life.

The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” (Lu 9:22-24)

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable…why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. Awake to righteousness, and sin not;“ (I Corinthians 15:19, 30-34)

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