Learning how to become a Friend (1 Samuel)


Sermon Manuscript . . .

An Intimate Friend

A brief study of Jonathan from 1 Samuel

Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fella. One day he came home and told his mother he’d like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank–she thought, “I wish he wouldn’t do that,” because she’d watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung onto each other and talked to each other, but Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines.

Valentine’s Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed–maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt her to think he wouldn’t get many valentines–maybe none at all.

That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside, she looked out the window. Sure enough, here they came–laughing and having the best time. And as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed–and when the door opened, she choked back the tears. “Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you.”

But he hardly heard her words. He marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was, “Not a one . . . not a one.” Her heart sank. And then Chad added slowly, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!” Most of us can identify with that story, because all of us have been left out at one time or another, whether being picked last for kickball or a group project, to being overlooked for a promotion, or ignored by our own family–all of us have felt lonely, left out and snubbed.

And very few of us have experienced the true friendship of a Chad. Not many people today can say they have a selfless, intimate, caring and giving friend. And if the truth were known, I wonder how many of us function as that true friend to another? An old proverb says there are three types of friends–those like food, without which you can’t live; those like medicine, which you need occasionally; and those like an illness, which you never want.

Which kind of friend are you? And what kind of friends do you have? Are you a committed friend or a convenient friend? For each one of us not only needs committed friends, but we also need to learn to become a committed friend. Proverbs 18:24 is a key verse on friendship. “A man of many friends comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” This describes two basic levels of friendship. Level one friendships are ACQUAINTANCES–“A man of many friends comes to ruin.” When you pursue popularity and fame, you pay the price of having many acquaintances, many of whom are most often fairweather friends.

Level two is LOVING FRIENDSHIPS—”but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” This is the friendship Brian’s Song was about–this was the story about two football running backs, Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers. They became roommates, then best friends. In 1969, Brian Piccolo was diagnosed with cancer and at the end of the season he was bedridden. That season, Gale Sayers turned in one of his best records. At a banquet in his honor, Gale Sayers was given an award, and this is what he said. “You flatter me by giving me this award for being the most courageous man in football, but I need to tell you tonight that Brian Piccolo is truly the one who deserves this award and I give it to him in his honor as a man of courage.” He said, “I love Brian Piccolo and I want you to love him too.”

Are your friendships loose acquaintances or loyal bros? Friendship is a crucial need for all of us. Sometimes collegians pursue too many friends and drive themselves to exhaustion trying to maintain them. Often men do not cultivate genuine friends and have no one speaking into their lives. Many women find themselves lonely in marriage and seek friendships outside just to stave off the heartache. Many youth can’t seem to make or keep friends. Many singles can’t understand why they never feel secure in their friendships. And yes, there are a few who love living isolated from people altogether. But most of us are made for friendship.

And today I want you to discover how you can become an intimate friend. And in order to do that, like a doctor with a patient, you must examine what kind of friend you are. And this is the secret–in order to develop genuine, personal, intimate friendships, you need to pursue becoming a friend, developing the attributes of friendship, discovering what it means to be a good friend. Today I am going to ask you–kids, students and adults, teenagers and seniors, men and women to rate yourself on your friendship attributes, your friend quotient, your ability to be a friend.

Once you grow to become a better friend, I guarantee you will develop better friendships and attract quality friends. And there is no better way to do that, than to study one of the great examples of friendship found in the whole of Scripture. One of the most talked about and better friendships in the Bible is the pattern you find in Jonathan and David. Let’s study their friendship by turning to 1 Samuel 18 and following along in your outline.

So far in 1 Samuel, you know God is finished with King Saul for his continued disobedience to the Word of God, and for his lack of heart for the things of God. So God has chosen a new king for Himself–a man after His own heart, David. You know David–he is the scrawny, unknown shepherd boy, who’s faithful in little, a gifted musician, even a psalm writer, who soothes a crazed king, while being a man of faith who conquers the giant Goliath.

And now because of David’s trust in the living God, his courageous heart and kingly leadership against the enemies of God’s people–as we open chapter 18, this unknown youth who loves God, is about to make a friend and make an enemy. He’ll become the enemy of the reigning king, Saul, but at the same time he’ll become the friend of the kings son, Jonathan. As chapter 18 opens, you’ll see Jonathan display the first characteristic of an intimate friend.

First  A voluntary willingness to SACRIFICE

Look at chapter 18, verses 1 to 3, right after David killed Goliath. “Now it came about when he had finished speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. 2And Saul took him that day and did not let him return to His father’s house. 3Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.”

We know from previous chapters that Jonathan is a man of faith and a brave warrior. Yet it must have broken his heart to see his father disobeying God, losing his power of command, and finally rejected by God. So as he watches David do what his dad, King Saul, should have done–which was to battle Goliath, Jonathan’s heart went out to David with devotion. And notice, according to this Scripture, Jonathan’s friendship with David is one way. It was Jonathan’s soul that was knit to David’s and Jonathan loved David as himself.

The text does not say it went both ways at this point. But that displays the beginning of a friendship. Jonathan went so far as to remove his own royal regalia in verse 4 and placed it on David as recognition of God’s election of David as king. Friendship begins with a willingness to sacrifice–to love, to give, to reach out, to build, and to care.

Now within a very short period of time, David is hated and hunted by King Saul–yet prince Jonathan shows what a true friend is, by again willingly choosing to sacrifice for David. Look at 20:4–as David fears what Saul is going to do, look at what Jonathan says. “Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Whatever you say, I will do for you.’ ” Jonathan is willing to sacrifice anything for his friend. As Jesus said in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” True friendship is measured by its sacrifice.

Is there sacrifice in your friendships from you? Like the pig and the chicken who were talking about what they could give to the farmer to show their love. After a while of thought, the chicken suggested, “Why don’t we give him a breakfast of bacon and eggs?” The pig replied, “That’s easy for you to say–for you, that gift is a contribution. But for me, that gift is a total sacrifice.” Real friendship involves personal sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be your life, but all true sacrifice will cost you something.

It will cost you time when you don’t have any, money when you are out, labor when you are weary, and emotion when your tank is empty. An intimate friendship will give when it’s not convenient, will sacrifice even when it hurts, and will be there when you need them most. True friendship involves a willingness to sacrifice. So evaluate yourself–no one else, just you. Put an X on the scale where you think you are with the quality and willingness to sacrifice for your friendships. Rate how much sacrifice you make and give in friendships.

        Weak                                                      Average                                  Strong

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The second attribute of an intimate friend is found in 1 Samuel 19.

Second  A loyal DEFENSE before others

Turn to chapter 19, verses 4 and 5. Here Jonathon, the heir apparent to the throne of Israel–the one who stands to lose the most if David lives, defends David before his father, Saul. “Then Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father, and said to him, ‘Do not let the king sin against his servant David, since he has not sinned against you, and since his deeds have been very beneficial to you. 5For he took his life in his hand and struck the Philistine, and the Lord brought about a great deliverance for all Israel; you saw it and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood, by putting David to death without a cause?’ “

Saul listens to his son and even promises in verse 6, “ ‘As the Lord lives, he [David] shall not be put to death.’ “ But Saul’s promise isn’t true, for just one chapter later in 20:30 to 34, listen to what Saul says to his own son. “Then Saul’s anger burned against Jonathan … 31‘For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Therefore now, send and bring him to me, for he must surely die.’ 32But Jonathan answered Saul his father and said to him, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ 33Then Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him down; so Jonathan knew that his father had decided to put David to death. 34Then Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did not eat food on the second day of the new moon, for he was grieved over David because his father had dishonored him.”

True friendship is loyal before others. Jonathan is defending the man who will replace him as the king. Yet Jonathon is loyal to the man who will take his throne. True friends are loyal, even when it costs them. Whereas fake comrades are only your friend when there is something in it for them. As Proverbs 19:6 says, “Many will entreat the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.”

You can buy friends, but they won’t be loyal. Like the prodigal son–as long as he was spending his inheritance, he had lots of companions. But when the money was gone, there was no one. When life gets tough for you, that is when you find out who your friends are. As one saying puts it, a false friend is like your shadow–as long as there is sunshine, he sticks close by. But the minute you step into the shade, he disappears. True friendship is loyal. As Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

How many of you, if you had an auto accident, would have friends who would ditch school or take off work for seven days and seven nights so they could pray for you, cry with you, care for you and remain with you by your bedside the entire time? Job had friends like that. Hey, Job’s friends were off theologically, but they were friends who were loyal.

In Job 2:11 it says, “Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him  [what did they do?] they came each one from his own place…and made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.” Those are great friends–loyal friends. They stayed with Job night and day. The only problem was, on the eighth day they opened their mouths. That’s when we found out they didn’t take any of Nigel’s courses in counseling. But they were loyal, even though they were wrong in much of the counsel they gave.

Webster says loyalty is “a faithful allegiance.” The Bible says loyalty brings life in Proverbs 21:21, “He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life, righteousness and honor.” And God says He loves loyalty above all in Hosea 6:6, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice.” I have had friends betray me–and nothing is more painful. But I also have loyal friends–and nothing is more precious or important than their loyalty to God, His Word and me. Evaluate your loyalty–are you a loyal friend? Mark the scale with an X on the line showing your loyalty.

        Weak                                                      Average                                  Strong

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The third quality of intimate friends is . . .

Third  Complete freedom to be THEMSELVES

Or for you, complete freedom to be yourself. Look at chapter 20 verse 41. Here David and Jonathan met secretly (using an arrow and a young boy as a signal) and after they’ve sent their message, they meet. Verse 41 says, “When the lad was gone, David rose from the south side and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed three times. And they kissed each other and wept together, but David more.” This is not gay, but genuine affection in the Hebrew culture, of one man for another.

Friends have the ability and privilege to be themselves. True friends are the same at work, home and church –they don’t have to be plastic, phony or distant. They’re not afraid of what the other will say or think–they have complete freedom to be themselves. That means true friends tell the truth to each other. True friends are honest, even when it hurts–as Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

You know what that means–when you change your hairstyle to one that’s terrible, acquaintances will say it looks great. “It’s you! Spikey is in!” But a true friend will tell you you look like what the cat coughed up. “What did you do?!” Yet true friends talk about more than hairstyles. True friends talk about morals, sins, choices, obedience, attitudes, beliefs, and convictions–even opinions, preferences, ideas, struggles, trials, bents, struggles, bad decisions and more. Let me ask you a key question for today–where does it say in the Bible that when you sin or I sin, that it’s nobody else’s business? That’s not what the Bible says at all.

Galatians 6:1, “If a man is caught in any trespass, you who are in the Spirit, restore such a one.” Matthew 18:15, “If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private.” Consider your actual blood sister, who chose to date an unrepentant pervert, who was currently on hard drugs and was arrested for beating up his last three girlfriends–you would intervene. You’d confront her honestly, even if it hurt, even if it wounded her. In the Christian life, you must do the same thing concerning sin with your brothers and sisters in Christ, if you love them–even if it means they reject us.

Hey friends, there are people who leave churches because pastors/elders have said those hard, loving truths. We can’t tell you what happened, and they won’t tell you the truth. Regardless, true friendship is honest, regardless of the cost. Proverbs 27:17 is in your face—”Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another.” Iron does not sharpen iron without heat and sparks. And it’s the same with friendships–there will be heat and sparks when it is a true friendship. And when it’s honest, the result will be maturity. Ready? Rate yourself–evaluate yourself. Are you honest and are you one who allows others the freedom to be themselves?

        Weak                                                      Average                                  Strong

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The fourth characteristic of an intimate friend is to be . . .

Fourth  A source of constant ENCOURAGEMENT

Read chapter 23:15 to 18, “Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life…16And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God. 17Thus he said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, because the hand of Saul my father shall not find you, and you will be king over Israel and I will be next to you; and Saul my father knows that also.’ 18So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord; and David stayed at Horesh while Jonathan went to his house.”

David is hiding from Saul to save his life. So what’s a true friend do? Jon goes to encourage him. The Hebrew word for encourage means to strengthen, to repair a weakness. Isn’t that what true friends do? They strengthen us and repair our weaknesses.

Webster says to encourage is to inspire, to spur on, to stimulate with spirit, hope, and courage. When you want to give up, a true friend will recharge your batteries. A true friend never stops believing in you. Now that does not mean that friends flatter each other, for flattery is based upon a lie. “You always look like a fashion model” . . . or “You are the smartest man in the world!” No, encouragement and compliments are based on truth, and true friends are constantly encouraging.

How do they do that? Primarily through sharing the Bible, praying for one another, being together, speaking kind words, giving gifts, and showing affection–as Proverbs 17:17 says, “A brother is born for adversity.” When your crisis hits, they are there for you. Jonathon came to encourage David in his crisis. True friends fulfill the continual command of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” Sadly, there are times when friends mess up in this area, and the Bible warns of several dangers. Here are three pitfalls friends need to avoid.

A  Over-Dependence

Proverbs 25:17 warns all of us, “Let your foot rarely be in your neighbor’s [same word as friend/friend’s] house, lest he become weary of you and hate you.” Have you ever had an over dependent friend–that kind that follows you around everywhere you go because of their emotional insecurity? They have their umbilical cord in hand and want to plug into you. That is an overdependent friendship.

Friendships will sour when they are more about getting than they are about giving. This goes for dating relationships too–dating couples should not spend more time together than a married couple. Like Siamese twins, glued every moment–even in marriage you want to give your spouse space. Avoid overdependence. Be stuck on the Lord. Be dependent on the Spirit, but not a friend or a spouse. The scary part of being locked in with each other right now is overdependence.

B  Destructive Speech

Proverbs 26:18 to 19 tells us, “Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘Was I not joking?’ “ I was just kidding . . . I’m playing a joke . . . Can’t you take a joke? . . . it was just a funny jab–as you destroy your friendship. The sharp-tongued, cutting remarks some of you grew up with in your home are the destructive knife that destroy your friendships and harm your marriages.

Constant sarcasm and tearing each other down will destroy a friendship. The vast majority of your speech must be encouragement. You need to change.

C  Insensitivity

Proverbs 27:14 gives another warning to friends, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him.” A true friend is an encourager and is sensitive about their friend’s circumstances and personality bents. In the morning some of you say, “Good morning, Lord!” but your friend says, “Good Lord, it’s morning!” The two distinctives of the human race–springers and crawlers.

You know the two main laws of nature. First is, your college roommate will be whatever you’re not–morning or evening. And the second law of nature is that morning people always marry evening people. Be sensitive with whom you are dealing–some spouses need coffee in the morning to function! Evaluate yourself–not your friend. Are you an encourager?

        Weak                                                      Average                                  Strong

The final quality of an intimate friend is . . .

Fifth  An enduring COMMITMENT

Remember what David and Jonathan did when they first met. Chapter 18:3 tells us Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Then chapter 23: 18 says, “So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord.” Now look at 2 Samuel 9:1, as David is established as king over all of Israel, one of the first things he does is to remember his covenant with Jonathan. Though Jonathan is now dead, their friendship shows an enduring commitment. “Then David said, ‘Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’ “

David remembers Jonathan and their covenant. They made a friendship by covenant before God. Do you have any friends by covenant? Your spouse yes, but any others? You should not have more than one or two–a friendship which is unconditional and unbreakable. Don’t make too many–why? 1) they are hard to maintain, and 2) they’ll tear you up if they fail. As one saying goes, “Be slow in choosing a friend and slower in changing one.”

When you lose a true friend, you die a little–like David did in Psalm 55:12 to 13. “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, my companion and my familiar friend.” I believe David is speaking of Ahithophel, who turned against him when Absalom rebelled. It would have been easy for David to deal with an enemy turning against him, but it was not easy as a close friend.

Few things are more painful than the betrayal of a close friend–so make a covenant very carefully. These types of commitments are similar to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich–it is very difficult to pull them apart without making a mess. Evaluate yourself with an X on the scale–are you one who hangs in there with your friends? You are long term–you are committed to make it work.

        Weak                                                      Average                                  Strong

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So how did you do when it comes to being a friend? Are you a true friend at the strong level, average or weak? Where do you most need to grow? Allow God’s Spirit to apply His Word and embrace three challenges.

A  The greatest friendships require CHRIST

You need to be the friend of God, in order for Him to work through you to be a great friend to others. And the only way to be the friend of God is to hate your sin and turn to Christ who took God’s hatred for sin on Himself on the cross, then rose from the dead to give you new life. Some of you might think, “Jesus doesn’t want to be my friend–I am just too sinful.” But the Bible says in Matthew 11:19 that Jesus is “the friend of tax-gatherers and sinners.”

Then how do you gain forgiveness from God? Christ must save you. Admit you are a horrible sinner before a holy God, believe that Christ died for your sin and rose from the dead and follow Christ as your Lord and Savior. Aren’t you tired of your sin, your guilt, your stained conscious and your loneliness? Then turn to Christ–there is no better friend and this friend lives in you.

B  Dependently PRACTICE one friendship quality

In John 15:14, Jesus shows us how to be His friend. He says, “You are My friends, if you do what I command you.” Today, each of you in your home, and singles FaceTime a friend, and share with each other the one friendship quality you need to grow in. Then encourage each other this week to follow God’s commands. Don’t point out, “you weren’t loyal”–just encourage each other to live out these truths.

C  Evaluate your FIRST friendship

Think about this–your Lord showed you His . . .

1. Voluntary willingness to sacrifice–on the cross

2. Loyal defense—before our enemy, the accuser

3. Complete freedom to be yourself–the way He made you

4. A source of constant encouragement–through the Holy Spirit, the Word and your brothers and sisters

5. An enduring commitment–secure for all eternity

Now evaluate your part of the friendship with Jesus

1. Voluntary willingness to sacrifice–time, gifts and service

2. Loyal defense before others–as you share Christ with others

3. Complete freedom to be yourself–honesty in prayer

4. A source of constant encouragement–living holy

5. An enduring commitment–loyalty to Christ in all of life

Let’s today, all of us, desire to be like Abraham, and pursue becoming the friend of God.

About Chris Mueller

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.

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