The story of David and Jonathan’s friendship in the Bible is a powerful template for how you and I can experience deepening friendship with others. One requirement is shared space. You have to be with a person if friendship is to blossom.
Another prerequisite we see in the story of David and Jonathan which takes their friendship to the next level is shared experiences.
My future friend C.S. Lewis said: “Friendship is born the minute one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’”
David and Jonathan were both young warriors. David has barely had a chance to show his mettle yet, but the raw material was in him. Before he faced down Goliath, he faced down a lion, and also killed a bear. David had indomitable courage. Jonathan had it too. He single-handedly (along with his servant) scrapped with a platoon of twenty Philistines and routed them. David and Jonathan both were natural leaders. Men were drawn to them and rallied to be by their side.
Shared experiences have great potential to deepen friendships. On paper at least, marriages should deepen over time, simply because of all that a husband and wife shares together. It’s sad when that doesn’t happen. After 33 years with my woman, and my best friend, I know that is true. All I have to do to get Janis’ eyes to light up is say the words: “Hannah” or “England” or “New Zealand” or “St. Louis Cardinals”. (Sports is the #1 way to my wife’s heart. Now if you believe that, I have a bridge in Utah to sell you.)
Friendship is born the minute one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’
Shared experiences that forge friendships can also be dark and difficult experiences. Shared pain can link hearts together in a powerful way. Those who have served in combat have a natural affinity for one another. One veteran locks eyes with another, and at once there’s a bond that few could understand.
At the end of the Lord of the Rings movies, the four hobbits are together back in Hobbiton, sharing a drink after their indescribable adventures. No one else gets it. They’re surrounded by noise and people, but it’s as if they’re alone. They manage a smile and raise their glasses to each other, for what they have shared.
David and Jonathan were caught up together in the drama of dealing with Saul’s growing madness. Jonathan didn’t get a pass because he was Saul’s son. He was subject to his father’s wrath on occasion. And when after a short time, Saul went all ‘Game of Thrones’ on David, and tried to kill him, Jonathan didn’t hesitate in deciding who he was going to help. Because this was his friend.
Perhaps you’ve heard the Irish proverb: ‘A friend asks you what’s wrong. A good friend gives you a shoulder to cry on. A best friend helps you bury the bodies.’ That’s what Jonathan does with David. He helps him to escape his father’s wrath.
Sadly, they never see each other again. David becomes a fugitive whom Saul tirelessly hunts for the next decade. But in years to come, when God brings David at last to the throne, and Jonathan has been slain in battle, David will remember the shared experiences of friendship he had with Jonathan by caring for his disabled son.
Once again, you should see what’s needed to find friends: turn off your TV, get out of your easy chair, leave your house, and go experience life.