“Then Jonathan, Saul's son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. And he said to him, ‘Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.’ So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house” (1 Samuel 23:16-18).
David had fled for his life from before King Saul. Saul was seeking after David every day in an attempt to kill him (1 Samuel 23:14). Saul was using all the resources he had available at his disposal to get David. On the other hand, David realized the great challenge he faced in trying to escape from King Saul. Earlier, he had told his good friend Jonathan, who was also Saul’s own son, “But truly as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death” (1 Samuel 20:3). David was in a desperate situation. He was getting discouraged from being on the run from King Saul.
Imagine how David must have felt. He couldn’t stay in one location very long because Saul was constantly on the hunt for him. Every time he went to a new area he had to wonder if someone was going to try to turn him over to King Saul. Doeg the Edomite had done this and had killed the priests of Nob who had unknowingly helped David in his efforts to escape from Saul (1 Samuel 22:9-19). Those of the city of Keilah that David had rescued from the Philistines even were going to turn their back on David and deliver him over to Saul (1 Samuel 23:1-12). David must have felt there was no one he could trust. David gives us a glimpse of how he felt during this period of his life when he writes, “Look on my right hand and see, For there is no one who acknowledges me; Refuge has failed me; No one cares for my soul” (Psalm 142:4).
David felt like no one cared for his soul. However, as the open verses above indicate, his friend Jonathan did care for his soul. Jonathan was a faithful friend to David. He risked much to remain a friend to David. He risked inheriting the kingdom from his father Saul because of his friendship with David. In fact, Jonathan accepted the fact that David would become king and not himself (1 Samuel 23:17). He even risked his own life when on one occasion his father Saul had thrown a spear at him because he was angry with his son for befriending David (1 Samuel 20:33). Yet, in spite of all of this, Jonathan’s commitment to being a friend to David did not waver.
When David needed Jonathan the most, Jonathan went to him and “strengthened his hand in God” (1 Samuel 23:16). A lot of people have friends whose company they enjoy. They have similar interests. Some people have friends who will lead them astray into self-destructive practices such as drinking alcohol and doing drugs. But, Jonathan was a friend who helped David grow stronger in his relationship with God.
Today I rejoice that God has given me friends and brethren in Christ who “strengthen my hand in God”. I am grateful for friends who encourage me and uplift me to continue in the faith. It is a blessing to have friends with whom I can talk about God and His working in our lives. Today, I will strive to be a friend to others around me and strengthen their hands in God!
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17)