Friends and Friendship

1 Samuel 18 SCC 2/1/15


A relationship can be defined as a significant connection resulting in mutual identification. A relationship with people results in (1) their working together or (2) a feeling like they belong together or (3) their being seen as the same kind of people in some way like that of a family, corporation, marriage, friendship or an athletic team. If we have a relationship we have some vested interest in each other.

Good relationships often cause bad relationships:

Jon and David were the best of friends. Jonathan loved David as himself. They made a covenant togetheróapparently to protect each other at all costs. The result was that Jon risked his life for David and David raised Jonís crippled son, Mephibosheth, after Jonís death (2 Sam 4:4; 9:1-13). But their love for each other, like all close relationships, caused conflict with others (1 Sam 18:1-6; 19:17; 20:1-17). Jon was king Saulís son and David was Saulís best warrior. When Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him, Jon had to decide between his father and his friend. Jon without hesitation did the right thing again choosing loyalty with David, a constant source of irritation between Saul and Jon (1 Sam 20:30-34). The good relationship between David and Jon caused a bad one between Jon and his father.



We have already seen that Jonathan was a man of faith and courage 14:1-15. Jonathan found a soul brother in David, a man who committed himself to trusting and obeying God as he did. This common purpose on the deepest level of life is what accounts for the love Jonathan and David shared for one another v 1. Jonathan loved David as he loved himself v 1 and 3. His love for David was because of Davidís love for the Lord. Like Jon (14:2-6), David jeopardized his personal safety to serve Godís purposes. Saul initially responded to Jonathanís affection for David, and presumably Davidís bravery, by keeping David with him even more than the king had done previously v 2.


Evidently Jonathan realized Davidís gifts and Godís will for Davidís life and he humbly deferred to him v 3-4.When Jonathan took off his robe, his armor, his sword, his bow and belt and gave it to David v 4, he was in effect transferring his own status as heir apparent to him. The gift given by Jonathan served to ratify the covenant and honor David from the current dynasty. Jonathanís selfless action reflects his submission to Samuelís oracle that Saul would not have a continuing dynasty. Rather than trying to perpetuate Saulís dynasty godly Jonathan turned over the symbols of the crown prince to David. Davidís commitment to God resulted in his prospering v 5 because God was with him v 12 and 14.


Homosexuals have tried to use the writerís statements of Jonathanís love for David as support that their lifestyle has good biblical precedent. The word translated, love here, never describes homosexual desire or activity. Rather, when homosexual relations are in view, the word is translated know in the sense of have sex with. David states that Jonathanís love was ďmore wonderful than the love of womenĒ (2 Sam. 1:26). Jonathan also ďlovedĒ David (1 Sam. 18:3), and ďkissedĒ him (1 Sam. 20:41). The text even tells us ďthe soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of DavidĒ (1 Sam. 18:1). Were these two a couple?


These two were not sexually attracted to each other. Their love for each other was brotherly not sexual. First, David has multiple wives and uncontrollable lust for naked womenólike Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). Second, Jonathan didnít strip himself of all his clothes in 18:4; he merely stripped himself of his robe including all the battle paraphernalia symbolizing transfer of his family dynasty to David. Third, greeting each other with a kiss (1 Sam. 20:41) was a demonstration of sorrowful emotions expressedónot pleasure. Fourth, many are said to have loved David in the context including Michal, Saulís daughter who married David v 20, and all Israel and Judah v 16 including even Saulís servants and warriors v 30. Furthermore, the Bible never holds back on revealing the sin of its protagonists. Why would it hold back in this case? Why not just come out and say it if they were gay?


So the crown prince of Israel gives us one of the classic examples of self-humbling for the glory of God and the welfare of His people that we have in all of Scripture. Jonathanís humility is all the more remarkable since chronological references in Samuel seem to indicate that Jonathan was about 30 years older than David. His response to Davidís anointing was appropriate, and it contrasts sharply with Saulís response, which follows.



Saulís growing jealousy seems to have mounted as a result of Davidís increasing ability, success, and popularity with the people stemming from Godís favor. These verses show how David had captured the affection of many Israelites by his victory over Goliath v 6-7. The womenís song did not intend to insult Saul albeit David received the higher commendation. Notwithstanding Davidís popularity, not everyone was ready to join Davidís fan club. Apparently Saul suspected that with such popularity David might attempt to overthrow his government v 8. However, it was personal jealousy that took root in Saulís mind and led to his downfall v 9. While Davidís actions pleased the people they displeased the king. The problem was Saulís desire to be popular with the people more than with God creating suspicion.



Here we see movement countering friendship, based in mutual giving for each others greater good, to ruined friendship based in personal protection for ones own good. The evil spirit from the Lord afflicted Saul the very next day v 10. David and Saul each had something in their hand. David held a harp to soothe Saul and Saul held a spear with which he sought to harm David v 11. The writer stated the reason Saul attempted to pin David to the wall clearly in verse 12. God was with David, and He had withdrawn from Saul v 12. Saulís unchecked jealousy bred the symptoms of paranoia; he began to think that his most loyal subject was his mortal enemy. Contrast Jonathanís implicit confidence in David.


Saulís evil bent was by the permission and plan of God. Just because God uses something does not means he approves of it. Why do you think God used this demon? I donít know but again, donít confuse what God uses with what pleases God. The bottom line is that God is sovereign, and nothing takes place that is contrary to His divine purpose and plan. An evil spirit can torment a man only because God allows it, and in that sense, it could be said that it is ďan evil spirit from the Lord


Saul sent David out from the palace, evidently so he would not be a constant aggravation to the king v 13. Saul placed David, whom he had already appointed as his commander-in-chief v 5, over a large unit of soldiers in the field v 13. However, Saulís decision only gave David more exposure to the people and increased his popularity with them. When Saul observed what was happening, he dreaded David even more v 15, but the people of both Israel and Judah loved him even more v 16. God was causing the wrath of Saul to praise Him, and to contribute toward the fulfillment of His plans.



Since he had been unsuccessful in murdering David himself, Saul also tried to get other people to kill him. Saul had promised his daughter in marriage to Goliathís victor v 17. Nevertheless now Saul added the condition that David also had to fight more battles for his king. David, on the other hand, did not aspire to marry the kingís daughter even though such a marriage would have advanced his career greatly v 18. He evidently dismissed this possibility since he could not afford the dowry. Saul went back on his promise to give David his older daughter, Merab, anyway v 19.


Michal, like her brother Jonathan, had come to love David v 20. Evidently Saul meant that Michal would become a snare to David v 21 because as the son-in-law of the king David would have been in line for the throne making David a more important target for the Philistines in battle. This time Saul tried to break down Davidís humble resistance to becoming his son-in-law by sending servants to persuade him v 22. They assured David that his lack of wealth would not be a problem. Normally grooms paid their prospective fathers-in-law a price to compensate for the loss of their daughter v 23. But Saul was willing to take 100 uncircumcised Philistine foreskins instead v 24-25 possibly believing he might die in the encounter with the Philistines using his daughter as the bait to lure David into what he thought would be a fatal encounter.


God protected David, however, and he was able to provide the king with twice as many foreskins as Saul had specified v 27. This time Saul gave him David daughter. Saul saw in these events evidence that the Lordís blessing was with David v 28, and this made him even more fearful of him v 29. Ironically Saul from then on became Davidís enemy continually even though David had become his son-in-law as well as his faithful commander-in-chief and his effective field general. By setting himself against David, Saul was setting himself against God since David was the Lordís anointed. Why didnít Saul ever repent?



1. We need to know that our choices impact outcomes. David and God are both making choices. So is Saul. Godís choice of David and Davidís choice of God worked together to make him successful. The opposite was also true of Saul. The Lord had forsaken Saul, but Saul had also forsaken the Lord resulting in tragedy.

2. God advances his favor upon the faithful so that they can know the successes, which further the outcome of his plans. Often this favor is advanced through difficult, threatening and even painful situations like fractured or broken friendships.

3. If you ever entertain jealousy it will only destroy you. Saul was suspicious, then raved, then hurled, then afraid, then dreading, then against, then snaring, then plotting and finally even more afraid. Your life will shrivel and your attitude poisoned till it destroys you, your spirit, your countenance, your joy, your strength, your peace and breed hate, anxiety, rage, and murder.

4. Friendships can be fragile because they require humility, love and giving to anotherís greater good without regard for self. Our propensity to serve self is always ready to pounce and ruin friendship.