Sunday Sermon: ‘A Friend That is Closer Than a Brother’

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Introduction

I want to begin my message today by having you take a short quiz. This quiz isn’t hard and you won’t receive a failing grade if you’re incorrect. Here’s my quiz:

What Do These 5 Names Have in Common: ‘C.W., Mike, Gary, Ted, and Buck’?  

I’m sure that other than myself, Tammy is the only one who even has a clue into who these five individuals are, much less what they have in common. Although most of these individuals have never met each other, they all have a common link. At one time or another, each of them was one of my best friends. Actually, even within this small group of guys, only a couple of them were really-really a best friend. I’ve read that although most of us have hundreds of friendships and acquaintances in life, most of us can count on one hand the number of individuals who could be considered to be one of our ‘best friends.’

What is a true friend? Someone has said that a true friend is someone who even though they know the real you, they still like you. Someone else has said that a true friend is someone who is willing to stick with you through thick and thin and even make personal sacrifices for your benefit.

Not everyone is that kind of friend. The Bible says: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV) In other words, friends can either make us or break us. The Bible also says: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NIV) Whereas, the right kind of friends can bless us, the wrong kind of friends can ruin us.

Today I want us to focus upon two of David’s best friends.

I. David’s Friend Named Jonathan  

1 Samuel 18:1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. NKJV

A. Review David’s Story                

Let me take a moment and bring you up to date as to where we are in the story. In chapter 17, David has just killed Goliath. “Therefore David ran and stood over the Philistine, took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it.” (1 Samuel 17:51 NKJV) David kills the giant with a stone and a sling, and then he chops off his head with Goliath’s own sword. I’ve often wondered how big that sword was. If it was anything compared to the size of his spear, it was as long as David was tall. Then David does something that is pretty gruesome. “And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent.” (1 Samuel 17:54 NKJV) Can’t you see David picking up this monster head that’s still dripping with blood, and carrying it back to Saul and his army?

“Then, as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” (1 Samuel 17:57-58 NKJV)

“Dude! Who are you?” Saul asked him. What David just did would be amazing for anyone to do, especially someone so young. As a result, Saul made David a part of his army.

1 Samuel 18:2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore.

Actually, this is not the first-time Saul and David have met. The Bible says that when Samuel anointed David to be king, the Holy Spirit came upon him. But at the same time, the Bible says that the Holy Spirit left Saul and in His place, an evil spirit came to torment him. (see 1 Samuel 16:14) The Bible says that when the evil spirit would begin to torment Saul, he would go into deep depression and fits of rage. During one of these episodes, a servant suggested that he find someone to play for him soft music to sooth him. Guess who that musician was? It was David. Whenever Saul was being tormented by the evil spirit, David would be called from the fields and to play his harp for him. Probably David also sang some of his songs that we know as the Psalms.

B. Saul’s Jealousy of David

1 Samuel 18:5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. 6 Now it had happened as they were coming home, when David was returning from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments. 7 So the women sang as they danced, and said: “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” 8 Then Saul was very angry, and the saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 So Saul eyed David from that day forward.

10 And it happened on the next day that the distressing spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied inside the house. So David played music with his hand, as at other times; but there was a spear in Saul’s hand. 11 And Saul cast the spear, for he said, “I will pin David to the wall!” But David escaped his presence twice.

12 Now Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, but had departed from Saul. NKJV

When Saul heard the people praising David, he became extremely jealous. Saul was not only selfish and self-centered, he was very insecure. Saul recognized that David had something he didn’t have. What was it? The Bible says that Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him. Even though David was young enough to be Saul’s son, he was more secure in who he was than the king of Israel.

C. Jonathan’s Friendship with David

There’s another aspect to this story that I want us to see. Notice again verse 1: “…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…” (1 Samuel 18:1)

1. Who was Jonathan?

Jonathan was the son of King Saul and therefore the prince of Israel. Even more, he was next in line to become king. The Bible says that as Jonathan listened to David speak to his father, there was a binding together of their souls.

Some have tried to twist this and make it sound as though they had a gay relationship. Yet, we need to remember that David was called a man after God’s own heart and nowhere in the Bible do you ever find God supporting or endorsing homosexuality. Instead you will find many passages where He condemns it.

Theirs was not a physical relationship. It was a spiritual relationship. Some might describe it as being of ‘kindred spirits.’ Other would say that they just clicked. I’m sure you’ve met some people in life with whom you almost immediately clicked. I remember the first time I ever met one of the men who is now a best friend to me. He and I seemed to click the very first time we met and we still do even today. There’s no rivalry or friction between us. We are on the same page; therefore, our friendship continues to grow and flourish.

2. How Did Jonathan Demonstrate His Friendship Towards David?

1 Samuel 18:3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan did an amazing thing. He took off his royal robe and gave it to David. One wonders if David gave back to Jonathan his plain, everyday garment. Perhaps you remember that up until this point, David had only been a shepherd watching over a few sheep. This exchange of garments and weapons was a symbol of a covenant the two of them made with each other. What is a covenant? A covenant is a pledge that two individuals make that establishes a special relationship. Jonathan and David’s covenant was that that they would be loyal to each other for as long as they lived.

Perhaps the most striking part of this covenant was that Jonathan, the prince of Israel, was the one who seemed to initiate it. He appears to be the one who reached out to David and offered to him his robe and lifelong loyalty. This reminds me of another king who did something very similar. The Bible says:

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5 ESV)

 At God’s appropriate time, He sent His Son to this earth to be clothed with the garment of common humanity. The reason Jesus did this was so that He might offer to us His royal robe of righteousness.

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Galatians 4:6-7 ESV)

The prophet Isaiah wrote:

“He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” (Isaiah 61:100

 3. Why Did Jonathan Befriend David?

What caused Prince Jonathan to initiate such a covenant with a common boy like David? I think that there are several reasons:

a. It Was an Act of Grace

What is grace? Grace is someone offering something good to us that we have neither earned nor deserve.

b. There Was a Common Bond Between Them

The Bible says that their ‘souls were knit together.’ What brought the souls of Jonathan and David together?

The Bible doesn’t give us a lot of information about Jonathan, so we have to consider who David was so that we might better understand who Jonathan was.

The Bible says that David was a ‘man after God’s own heart.’ (see 1 Samuel 13:14) We’ve learned that this is someone whose heart was in harmony with God.

If David’s heart was in harmony with God, what does that say about Jonathan’s heart? Apparently, he was someone who also loved God and wanted to know more about Him.

c. Jonathan Loved David With a Christlike Love

Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Scripture teaches us that Jonathan not only was willing to sacrificially give to David his right to the throne, he also was willing to put his life in jeopardy to defend him.

II. David’s Friend Named Jesus

I said at the beginning of my message that most of us can count on one hand the number of ‘real, deep, intimate’ friends we will have in life. David had two outstanding friends: one was Jonathan, and the other was the Lord Jesus Christ.

A. Could David and Jesus Have Been Friends?

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “How could David have been friends with Jesus when Jesus wasn’t even born yet?” Let me ask you this question. Though Jesus lived two thousand years ago, how can many of us consider Him to be our best Friend?

We must remember that although Jesus was born as a baby at Bethlehem, that was not His beginning. The Bible teaches us that before the beginning of creation, Jesus as the Son of God already existed. Jesus is God; therefore, He is eternal. The Bible says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 3:18)

Though David didn’t know Jesus by name, he knew Jesus. Who else could he have been writing about when he penned these words?

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.  3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Whether it was standing up to a bully named Goliath or spending countless hours alone while tending a few sheep, David knew that Someone was with him and watching over him. David also knew that this person loved him. David also wrote these words about Jesus.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

Jesus said those exact words while hanging on the cross. How did David know to write them? The Lord was with him and in him.

B. Jesus Desires to be Our Friend as Well

Jesus was a friend to David and He desires to be our friend as well. One of the amazing titles given to Jesus while He was here on earth was that He was a ‘friend of sinners.’ (see Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34) What does that title mean?

Jesus did not befriend sinners because He endorsed their sinful lifestyles. Jesus befriended sinners because He cared about their souls and He understood that unless they come to Him and receive Him as their Savior, they would one day be condemned to be punished in hell forever. Jesus himself said that He had not come for the spiritually healthy, but for the sinfully sick. (see Luke 5:31–32)

Though Jesus doesn’t love the sin of men, He loves sinful men. What does He love about them? He loves their soul. He looks beyond their faults and sees their need.

Again I take you back for a moment to the story of Jonathan and David.

1 Samuel 18:1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. NKJV

Jonathan did an amazing thing. He initiated a life-long binding covenant between himself and David. Every time I read this, I think about what Jesus did for me. Two thousand years ago, Jesus came to this earth and clothed Himself with my humanity. God became a man, just like I am a man.

What’s more, He also clothed Himself with my sins as He hung on the cross. The Bible says: “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NIV) Just like Jonathan put on David’s dusty garment, the Lord put on our sin. It’s as though while Jesus was hanging on the cross, He clothed Himself in every filthy garment of sin that you and I have or will ever commit. In exchange, He offers to us His royal garment of righteousness.

Think about it for a moment. There stood Jonathan in David’s plain ordinary garment, and there stood David in Jonathan’s royal robe. Two thousand years ago, there stood Jesus stood in my sinful humanity, and here today I stand in His robe of righteousness.

C. Is Jesus Your Friend?

Is Jesus your covenant friend? I’m not asking you if you and Jesus are casual acquaintances. A lot of people know ‘about’ Jesus, but they don’t ‘know Jesus.’ He’s not their dearest friend.

How can Jesus become our friend?

1. We must realize our need of His forgiveness

2. We must believe that He is God’s Son who died on the cross for our sins

3. We must place our faith and trust in Him as our Savior and receive His forgiveness

If you have never done that, I invite you to do so right now. Pray with me:

“Dear Jesus, I know that I have sinned. I know that I have failed You in many ways and I know that my sin will keep me from heaven. I believe that You died for my sins and at this moment, I am asking You to forgive me of my sins, and to come into my life forever. Amen”

If I may be of help to you in your relationship with Christ, please contact me at: pastorterry@twinoaksbapt.org or (540) 365-6312

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