Dear friends in Christ. Our text this morning is part of the account of that great friendship in the OT between Jonathan, who was the son of King Saul, and David, who would one day be king. By this time, David was married to Saul’s daughter, Michal. Saul had promised her as wife to whoever would defeat Goliath in battle. Of course, David did. David grew in popularity with the people; and the Lord had already told Saul through the prophet Samuel that He was taking the kingdom away from Saul. Combining these two factors, Saul was out to kill David and David had to fear Saul for his life. David looked for his friend Jonathan and poured out his heart to him about his fears. Jonathan does not think it is possible that his father, the king, is still so mad at David as to try to kill him. They come up with a plan that would reveal Saul’s real intentions and attitude toward David and in a code Jonathan would reveal it David: Jonathan would take his servant and at a predetermined spot and time shoot an arrow. He would send the servant to get the arrow; if he would say to the servant that the arrow was behind him, that would be the sign to David that Saul’s attitude was peaceful; but if Jonathan told the servant that the arrow was past him, that was code that Saul still hated David and that David should flee.
In our text, we see the way that Jonathan figured out his father’s attitude: David was absent from the king’s feast of the new moon—and also the next day. When Saul asked where David was, Jonathan excused David’s absence by saying he was required by his family to be part of the family sacrifice. Saul scolded Jonathan for siding with David and threw his spear at him. His attitude toward David was clear. The next day, according to plan, Jonathan made known to David what Saul’s attitude toward him was. David had to flee.
To be sure, this account of the friendship of David and Jonathan could serve as a wonderful sermon text on friendship and its blessings and qualities. But, it is also good as we ponder this account to remember that David is so often in the OT a picture of Christ and what Christ would do and what would happen to Him. 1. For example, in the account of David and Goliath we see a picture of the great battle that Christ Jesus, the God-man, fought against Satan. 2. Even in our text, we hear how Saul doesn’t even mention David’s name, calling him instead, the son of Jesse; then we remember that Jesus’ enemies among the Jews never called Him by His name. 3. Following our text, we see that David flees as Saul pursues him; we then think of how the devil hounded and tempted Jesus, trying to get Him off the track of His saving work. 4. Finally, we remember how often Jesus speaks through David in the psalms using David as His penman, as David even says [Ps. 45]: My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer. So yes, we will examine the theme of friendship in our text, but not just friendship as friendship; instead, we will see in David and Jonathan’s friendship also a picture of the friendship between us and Jesus, who says [Jn. 15.15]: I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Our text teaches us that friendship shows great love and sacrifice; and that friends comfort and encourage each other.
1. What made David and Jonathan friends? What makes friends, friends? Where does the start begin? It is seemingly that something “just clicks” between two people. Perhaps it is mutual background, interests, etc.; both people bring something in. But what makes us friends with Jesus is something completely different. Here it is one sided—Christ’s side; His coming to us. We become Christ’s friends and come to be called friends in the sight of God, as we receive His blessings. Remember the verse: I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. We are the friends of Christ because He first loved us and came to us giving us His blessings and benefits: all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. We didn’t give Christ anything; we didn’t merit His friendship. It wasn’t mutual; instead, Christ came to us initiating this friendship by receiving us and changing us from enemies into friends, giving us the forgiveness of sin, life and every heavenly and spiritual blessing. St. Paul writes of this one-sided beginning of this friendship [Rm. 5.8]: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us…When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son….Our friendship now with Christ, as His dear Christians, began when He gave us His Holy Spirit who created faith in our hearts to receive the gifts, blessings, benefits Jesus brought us. Our friendship now means that we thank Him and confess that we owe our friendship solely to His grace and goodness to us.
As we see the friendship between David and Jonathan in our text, let us see the great love and sacrifice of friendship—and that our friendship with Jesus also shows great love and sacrifice. With Jonathan we see that he showed faithfulness to David his friend even and precisely when such faithfulness and loyalty brought conflict.
Our text: And it happened the next day, the second day of the month, that David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, "Why has the son of Jesse not come to eat, either yesterday or today?" 28 So Jonathan answered Saul, "David earnestly asked permission of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 And he said, 'Please let me go, for our family has a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. And now, if I have found favor in your eyes, please let me get away and see my brothers.' Therefore he has not come to the king's table." 30 Then Saul's anger was aroused against Jonathan.
Jonathan’s friendship with David brought him suffering as now his father, King Saul, sees his loyalty to David. As Saul saw it, Jonathan was either for him or for David; there was no in between; it was that Jonathan was either David’s friend or Saul’s son. Saul told Jonathan: For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, you shall not be established, nor your kingdom. Now therefore, send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die. But Jonathan’s loyalty to his friend and faithfulness to the promise he had made to him to find out whether Saul was still angry at David and out to get him brought Saul’s wrath upon him. Although Jonathan was Saul’s son, and the next one in line to be king, Jonathan recognized that David would be the next king. Jonathan surely knew that Samuel the prophet had told Saul that the Lord rejected his kingship; and that David would surely be the next king. So although Jonathan was in the king’s house, even his own son, he recognized a different king, David.
In the same way, our friendship now with Christ, as His dear Christians, will require from us great love and sacrifice. With our baptism Christ brought us into His holy family, claimed us as His own, worked faith in our hearts and called us His friend. Our loyalty to Christ brings conflict. We recognize a different king; we have different loyalties. Our king and loyalties are not and do not lie with the things and ways of the world—being out for number one; looking for wealth, power, fame, etc.; we don’t live just for this world but we look ahead to heaven and live our life with that goal and focus. Our friendship is with Christ and not the world and its ways. Although we live in the world, we are not of the world; our focus is heaven. Our loyalty and friendship is with Christ. This brings conflict with the world as we live out our lives of faith. Jesus tells us [Jn 15.14]: You are My friends if you do what I command you, that is, we obey Christ, we are faithful to our Friend, because we cherish our relationship with Him and want nothing to destroy it. That’s why we strive against sin and temptation; and when we do sin, we turn to Jesus, our Friend, in sorrow seeking His forgiveness.
Our friendship with Christ shows itself in our confession of faith. This takes place not only in church as we gather together around our Lord’s holy word and Sacrament, not only as we confess the 3 creeds on Sunday, but foremost as we live out our lives as Christians. As we live differently, delighting in the will of our Friend, Christ Jesus, led and empowered by His Holy Spirit, our life of faith and good works, of Christ in action in and through us, that is a confession of faith and a rebuke to the godlessness of the world around us. For example, when we go to church on Sunday, we are pricking the conscience of those who should be here but aren’t. The world will rage against us and try to get us to stop and to be more like the godless around us—after all, then there will be no rebuke to their godlessness if there is no Christian striving to do the Lord’s will, being like salt in the wound.
Like Jonathan experienced Saul’s rage as his friendship showed great love and sacrifice, so will we: And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said to him, "Why should he be killed? What has he done?" 33 Then Saul cast a spear at him to kill him, by which Jonathan knew that it was determined by his father to kill David. 34 So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had treated him shamefully. Although we do the right thing and live out our lives in friendship to our Lord Christ Jesus, let us not be shocked and alarmed when it does not meet with the pleasure of the world.
2. The other thing we learn from our account of David and Jonathan’s friendship is that friends comfort and encourage each other. Our text: As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from beside the stone heap, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the LORD, saying, 'May the LORD be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.'" So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city. David and Jonathan both wept—David because misery was before him and Jonathan because of what David, his friend, had to face.
But when it comes to the friendship between Jesus and His Christian, it’s different. Just like the disciples couldn’t, we could not comfort and encourage Jesus our friend as He carried out His saving work for us. Also at the very end, at His betrayal and arrest, even His disciples abandoned Him and all alone and forsaken He had to suffer the wrath and punishment of God for the sins of the world, as He said through the prophet [Is 63.3], I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me.
In spite of that, Jesus still says to us: I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. Precisely by His forsakenness and suffering Jesus, our Friend, can now comfort and encourage us. Jesus, the Resurrected One, is our Friend giving us His glorious gifts of His victory over sin, death, devil and hell; He gives us peace of conscience; He has reconciled us with God. Come what may, we know that in Christ Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer, we are God’s dear children and heirs of heaven; we know that He is working all things for our spiritual and eternal good. We are friends of Christ—He has given us the blessings and benefits of His work.
As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from beside the stone heap. What a beautiful description of Jesus and His comfort and encouragement that He gives us. He comes from behind the stone heap of word, water, bread and wine to give us the true comfort and encouragement of heart and conscience. From behind these simple things, there is Jesus with the greatest and most wonderful blessings and comfort. He is truly the best Friend we could have. Just as Jonathan and David were friends, so too is Jesus and His Christian. As friendship shows itself in great love and sacrifice, as well as in comforting and encouragement, how blessed we are that we have a best friend—Jesus. INJ Amen