Over the course of our lives, most of us have known many people whom we have called a friend. But, how can we differentiate between a real friend and someone who is really just an acquaintance? The story of Jonathan and David gives us the answer (1 Sam. 19:2). The true test of friendship is whether or not a person will stand beside you in the most difficult of times. Jonathan showed himself to be a true friend to David because he was willing to ultimately put his life on the line to save David’s. Would you be willing to do that?
The friends of Job stand as the antithesis to what a true friend should be. Job was a man overtaken with grief and sorrow so severe that it is difficult for us to imagine even the half of it. One would think, as Job did, that during such a difficult time his true friends would have been there right beside him trying to help him through it. Such was not the case. In his grief Job lamented, “To him that is afflicted, pity should be shown from his friend…My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook” (Job 6:14-15). What would have happened to David if Jonathan had been that type of friend? What would have happened to God’s scheme of redemption and the nation of Israel, in both of which David would play a vital role in the future?
To have a true friend one must be a true friend (Pro. 18:24). But, as Jonathan shows us, that is not always the easiest thing to do. Sometimes being a true friend means giving a shoulder to cry on during a difficult time (Pro. 17:17); sometimes it means being able to give sound advice (Pro. 27:9); sometimes it means having a difficult conversation and offering rebuke (Pro. 27:6); and sometimes it may even mean laying down your life (John 15:13-14). Surely it was not an easy thing for Jonathan to defy the will of his father and protect his friend David, but he knew it was the right thing to do and he did it. Jonathan was there for David when David needed him. Would you have been? “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Pro. 17:17).