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.
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.
Although men tend to feel as if they can save themselves, there are times when it’s very clear that we cannot. These times often come when you’re facing overwhelming pressures with your wife or kids, your job, or your finances. So what is a man to do?
Let’s consider a man who went before you and I: King Jehoshaphat. Jehoshaphat was once under attack by three armies. Do you ever feel like you’re being attacked from all sides? You may be tempted to give in and surrender or to muster every human resource you can find. Neither of these reactions, however, is pleasing to God. Instead, God desires to use these situations to remind you that you are sustained not by your own cleverness but by his power. You are delivered not by your ability but by his mercy.
King Jehoshaphat understood this truth. His reaction to the threatening armies was to call everyone in Judah to fast. Instead of merely calling his people to military exercises and preparation, King Jehoshaphat called them to spiritual exercises. Instead of fattening their bodies, he called them to nourish their souls. Instead of looking to their own defenses, he called them to trust in God’s protection.
Because we must have food to live, physical hunger is one of the most powerful drives of life. When you fast, however, you begin to realize that all the food in the world can never satisfy the hunger of your soul. Only God himself can satisfy this longing.