Friends for Life

Steve Arterburn

Male friendship has been greatly distorted in our culture.  As a result, many men don’t know how to be or how to make good friends. Can you relate?  Sure, you may have some buddies.  But I’m talking about something much deeper–I’m talking about a friend who knows you–really knows you.  A friend who struggles alongside you, battles for you, and encourages you.

Consider the friendship, for example, of David and Jonathan.  David was anointed King, which meant Jonathan, who was heir to the throne, would never claim his title.  It would be similar to this:  If your dad was the president of a huge corporation and you were serving as vice-president.  But instead of taking your rightful position as president, the CEO chooses your friend instead.  How could a friendship under these circumstances survive?

One reason is because both David and Jonathan counted each other better than themselves.  There are few more graphic pictures of this than Jonathan’s surrender of his robe, his armor, and his position to David (1 Samuel 18:1-4).  ‘You are going to be king of Israel,’ Jonathan tells David, ‘and I will be next to you’ (1 Samuel 23:17).

And even after Jonathan was slain in battle, David continued to honor Jonathan by caring for Jonathan’s son.

Do you have at least one relationship that approaches this level of love and care?  It’s a costly commitment.  The only thing more costly is not having such a friend.

Friends for Life Part II

Steve Arterburn

David and Jonathan were committed to being channels of life to one another–which is amazing since under most circumstances these two would have been archrivals!

Do you remember their story?  Jonathan was the son of King Saul–the heir to the throne.  David was a young shepherd boy–chosen by God to take King Saul’s place as king.  This wasn’t because Jonathan lacked the character to be king but because his father Saul didn’t love or trust God.  On the contrary, when you read about Jonathan you will see in particular a man of great character. He wanted to honor his father.  Yet he loved his friend David.

How could such a friendship evolve or survive?  Their friendship was born of the fact that both Jonathan and David love the Lord.  Both trusted in God’s goodness.  So when life became complicated–like when Saul was trying to hunt down David and kill him–both David and Jonathan trusted in the Lord and his promises.  Only through the gift of spiritual friendship–a friendship rooted in God’s love and wisdom–could this be possible.

David and Jonathan made a covenant to under gird and support their friendship.  We aren’t given the specifics of the covenant, but it certainly included their commitment to God and to each other.  If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll consider taking steps to initiate this sort of friendship.

David

Steve Arterburn

We know more about the spiritual life of David than probably any other person in the Bible.  The extensive record of his life and the Psalms he wrote show us that he studied and meditated upon God’s word, he fasted, and that his entire life was yielded to God’s service.  

Two things he did stand out to me:  he worshiped and he prayed.  These spiritual exercises renewed David’s spirit over and over again.

For example, David’s first role in the king’s court was as a musician.  His ministry of worship touched Saul’s heart, as it has untold millions of others since David lived.  His worship is so powerful because it’s a natural, unforced mixture of David’s heart (when he was up and when he was down) with an unwavering faith in a gracious, almighty God.  

His prayers often begin with an honest confession of anger, despair, or frustration.  He didn’t hide his feelings from God and he didn’t pretend that he was ‘super-spiritual.’  Spiritual renewal flows from the freedom to be totally honest with God.  Psalm 145 is a good example of what I’m talking about.  Read Psalm 145 and you will see David’s progression from anxiety and distress to faith filled assurance and confidence.

When you consider the worship and prayer in David’s life, you soon recognize that being someone after God’s own heart doesn’t mean you never fall’it means when you fall, you look to God to restore your spirit, and you fall to your knees in worship and prayer.