As soon as 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. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. —1 Samuel 18:1-5 (ESV)
In 1 Samuel 18, we’re listening to the prophet Samuel describe the friendship between David and Jonathan, the son of King Saul. One of the book’s biggest contribution to the storyline of Scripture was appointing Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David. These two had a contentious relationship! Saul, who was a promising leadership characteristics by the world’s standards also had character flaws that led to his eventual downfall. He let his pride get the best of him, and that ultimately led to David’s appointment to the throne.
In chapter 17, David defeats the monstrous Philistine fighter, Goliath, and this is the scene of today’s text. After King Saul congratulates David, the text says that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David.” What does this mean? One translation states, “Jonathan was bound to David in close friendship”—the Lord is cultivating a close bond between David and Jonathan.
As he’s writing, Samuel depicts this relationship as a blessed thing. He says that Jonathan made a covenant or unfailing promise to David because he loved him as he would love himself. Jonathan showed great compassion towards David, giving him his robe. This was significant, considering that Jonathan was the prince, next in line for the throne. Let me ask you: As a leader, whether a parent, educator, or church leader, who is your friend? Often in ministry, we can find ourselves very alone, even among a building full of people. I encourage you to invest yourself in a small group of people. Mutually, they will be strengthened by you, and you will be strengthened by them. God brings people into our lives for a reason. Ask Him to make the needs of those around you apparent today and ask Him for the boldness to be vulnerable with someone. Cultivate friendships that are sacrificial, wherein we magnify the compassionate character of Christ.