Jonathan and David: Covenantal Friends

Is not the arrow beyond thee?” There it was, David’s answer. It was the answer that would forever physically separate him from his closest friend, Jonathan. David and Jonathan were more than just close friends. Their friendship was a covenantal friendship—a friendship forged by (and with) the Lord. They were friends who spiritually sharpened each other as iron upon iron. Their goals, purposes and intentions had a common goal—serving God.

Here, at the time of their separation, they left as friends covenantally bonded forever in Christ. “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 forever” (I Sam. 20:42). Here were two young, valiant men—one the son of a king; the other the adored victor over the Philistine champion. Yet caught in a battle between a jealously wicked father and a fleeing friend, Jonathan calmly assured David: “The Lord be between me and thee.” What a statement! To how many friends can you or I say: “The Lord be between me and thee”? Any yet God requires this in all of our friendships. So where, then, does this place our friendships?

There are two types of friendships: those in which we are unequally yoked with unbelievers, and those which include the Lord God of Israel. Why shouldn’t we be unequally yoked with unbelievers? The answer to this question is revealed in God’s Word (II Cor. 6:14-15). “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers…, for what part hath he that believeth with an infidel (unbeliever).” Christ commands us to be holy for He is holy. Yet our walk of life cannot be holy if it is tarnished by a yoke with an unbeliever. Rather our yoke should be a purified, holy one, as was Jonathan and David’s.

Take notice that David was in deep peril. He was the prey that Saul so vehemently hunts. Jonathan was the one with spiritual strength. He saw David’s weak faith, his peril, and so offered himself to help and serve David, both with physical needs (in hiding him) and spiritual assurance. Jonathan’s confidence was in God. He saw God’s grace in David’s life and offered his friendship as a true, godly friend, who had strength in areas where David did not.

This is a great example of the wonderful intimate bond of godly friendship. Notwithstanding their circumstances, faith in God, and fervent prayer enable these two to cross this bridge in their life. Our friendships should also be modeled in this manner. How important it is to have covenant friends in a time of spiritual need. David believed death was but a step away, yet was assured by Jonathan that his time on this earth was not yet fulfilled. God uses covenantal friends as a means of spiritual assurance, as well as spiritual growth.

Some might say that they have nothing in common with people from church, but we, as Christians, have much in common (i.e., the common goal of service to Christ). Who then do we pick as friends? Friends should primarily be those young people in the “church” (those who are believers of Reformed doctrine), as they are believers with whom we should have a great deal in common with. If there is no common ground, then we must be careful when we make friends with those who are outside of the church. Through prayer and sharing scripture our friendships in the church should be those of an unbreakable bond—the bond with Christ. These friendships will reflect our ultimate friendship with Christ, the one who carries all our burdens, and knows us, our strengths and our weaknesses. May that friendship be ever growing and never ceasing.

Parents of young people and young adults: Pray! and urge your children to stake covenantal friendships—friendships of everlasting praise to God in Heaven. To those who have close Christian friends: Consider yourself blessed to be able to say “The Lord be between me and thee.” Wow! What a powerful testimony to declare in this day and age. May God bless us in our youth and friendship with each other.