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1 Samuel

Friends Are For All Times
18:1 - 19:24

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Believers ought to support one another as true friends,

even in life’s darkest hours.

related reading

Psalm 63

Proverbs 29:12-27

Romans 12:9-21

1 Corinthians 13

1 John 4:11-21


An English publication offered a prize for the best definition of a friend, and among the thousands of answers received were the following:

“One who multiplies joys, divides grief.”

“One who understands our silence.”

“A volume of sympathy bound in cloth.”

“A watch which beats true for all time and never runs down.”


But here is the definition that won the prize:

“A friend—the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.”


This definition of friendship could have been written about Saul’s son Jonathan and the relationship he enjoyed with David. True friendship is more than just verbal assurances or an understanding nod or pat-on-the-back. A true friend is one who endures your trials and problems regardless of their source. A true friend has endured the mere passage of time. A true friend is one you have not talked to for six months and the conversation feels like you are picking up as though you had just talked yesterday. A true friend is there when you need him or her.

True friendships vary in terms of characteristics, for each of us vary in our make-up. An example of this is found in the Friendship Rating Chart at then end of this chapter. Note the characteristics. Different ones will be more or less important to each of us at various points in our lives. Yet, combined, this list describes the attributes of a true friend. As we read and study today’s lesson, keep these attributes in mind as they related to David and Jonathan.

Soul Mates [18:1 - 30]


The descriptions of David and Jonathan’s relationship provide a strong understanding of the depth at which their bond existed. “The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David” (18:1). In the Hebrew the word translated “knit” means to bind, tie, bind together, league together, and even, conspire. This reflects the closeness of the bonding felt between the two men. Further, these verses reflect a covenant agreement between them (18:3). This is a pledge or commitment of friendship. In the ancient Eastern cultures, such a pledge or covenant would be sealed with promises of blessings and curses. Later, this relationship will be described as a “covenant of the Lord” (20:8). Jonathan’s delivery of his robe to David is a symbolic transfer of Jonathan’s rights to the throne and demonstrates the depth of Jonathan’s commitment to the friendship covenant.

In short, David and Jonathan enjoyed spiritual fellowship because they each viewed life from God’s perspective.


Who are your best friends?

Have you formed a covenant relationship with any one of them? (What about your spouse if you are married?)

True friendship is one that survives not only the bright sunny days but also stands strong through the darkest night. True friendship is characterized by giving, by a self-sacrifice which puts the other person first. In the case of David and Jonathan, David’s success will sour Saul’s views of the young man. In Saul’s eyes, David quickly turns from an asset into a liability. Who will Jonathan choose – family or friend?

Jesus tells us:


Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13


ole45.gif What might John 3:16 tell us about the friendship of God?
Saul’s evil spirit once again tormented the king. This time David’s playing did not soothe the king’s tortured soul. Saul was so wroth with David, that this anger barred the gentle hymns of the harp from their comforting effort. As David played, Saul prophesied. In the midst of all this action, Saul grabs up a spear and hurls it in David’s direction, with the clear intention of eliminating David (18:11).

Again, we are struck by the contrast set forth in Scripture. Saul shoots at David, and rather than being afraid and hiding, David stayed around and gave Saul a second shot (18:11)! It is not David who is afraid, but rather Saul who trembles! Why should such fear overpower Saul?


And Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, and was departed from Saul.

1 Samuel 18:12

James writes that the devils recognize the existence of God and tremble (James 2:19). This clearly seems to be the reaction of Saul in this situation. Although he has demonstrated possessing a great void of spiritual knowledge, Saul understands the desirability of God’s Spirit. And, Saul appears to recognize his own loss in this situation.


Where do your fears come from?

How do you fight them?

Verse 18:10 records that Saul prophesied under the influence of the evil spirit.


What kind of prophesying could this be?

Do you see such prophesying today? Where?

Saul’s solution is to “promote” David from harp to soldier. Here again, God’s Chosen demonstrates the type of leadership abilities desired by godly people. David is successful. The people love him. Saul’s fears return.


Using this event as an example, consider how a Christian should act who has been fired or transferred because his ungodly boss was under conviction.

What should a Christian do under such circumstances?

Saul’s actions only prove one thing – what a scoundrel, schemer, and swindler he really is. The king had promised a wife and other riches to the man who defeated Goliath (17:25). David lost out on that offer. Then, Saul transferred David from the safety of the palace to the risk of the battlefield. Now, Saul promises the hand of his oldest daughter if David will fight the Philistines (18:17).

David fought the battles but was too humble to accept Saul’s daughter. So, Saul tries the same scheme with his younger daughter, Michal. David’s dowry was to be 100 Philistine foreskins (18:21-25). This time, David does marry the king’s daughter. All of this only serves to increase the animosity which Saul feels toward David (18:29).

Friends and Prophecies [19:1 - 24]

Jonathan, the friend, returns to the action. We are all strangled by difficult emotions and feelings when the circumstances of friends and family (or different family members) conflict. Where do our loyalties lie? How do we resolve the conflicts? What price do we pay for peace? Jonathan must be struggling with these emotions, although his emotional state is largely ignored by the Scriptures.

Jonathan interpleads David’s case before his father (19:4, 5). And, he is successful! David is restored to his position in the palace. Things appear to return to normal.


What is normal? In our own lives?

What price do you pay to keep everyone at peace?



When you are in these types of situations, who suffers the most?

Those in the battle like David and Saul?

Or the peacemakers like Jonathan?

Life is not smooth sailing. Just as the calm of one storm settles in to promise a sunny future, the storm clouds of the next force gather on the horizon. David faces another war with the Philistines then returns to Saul’s castle to once again battle the mad ravings of the king.

After another attempt upon his life, David flees the castle. This time, it is his wife, Michal, who saves him. As David escapes Saul’s men over the balcony, Michal hides an image in the bed. She lies to the messengers, telling them David is sick. All this buys the necessary time for David to escape to Samuel and the school of the prophets.


No one controlled by the Spirit of God can carry out the plans of the Devil. Christ told Paul that the Apostle could not succeed in preventing God’s plans. “And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks” (Acts 26:14) On the other hand, those not filled with God’s Spirit cannot resist the Devil. When Saul is filled with jealousy or anger, the evil spirit comes upon him. When Saul uncontrollably reacts to David, the king leaves himself wide open to Satan.



Surrender of self-control leaves us all open to Satan’s influences.

How do you surrender your self-control? Anger, greed, drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, power, pride, wealth?



God’s providence works in mysterious ways. Michal is clearly no better a person than her father, but her love for David places him first. She uses an idol, a teraphim, as the substitute for David. She lies to the messengers, then she lies to Saul as to the reason for her actions (19:17). Her actions saved David’s life, but her motives are not friendship, but selfish love.


ole52.gif How often do we act out of selfish motives?

Saul sends his men to capture David. Instead of capturing the young fugitive, they encounter the prophets and the same messengers prophesy themselves. The same events overtake a second group of soldiers sent from Saul. A third teams fate is no better. Finally, Saul himself goes after David. Saul, too, is overcome by the Spirit of God. Saul prophesies with the school of prophets! He strips off his clothes and lay on the ground naked all night uttering prophesy. Saul has been captured and apprehended by God rather than Saul apprehending David. Further, Saul, by stripping himself of his clothes, removes all outward signs of kingship before God. God is in control!

ole53.gif Nakedness among the prophets was a sign of deep mourning (Isa 20:3; Micah 1:8). Whose sorrow is demonstrated by Saul’s nakedness? Saul’s? – or God’s?


book297.gif Look at the list of friends – Jonathan’s loyalty and concern are extreme. Michal’s help most likely comes form the wrong motive. Samuel is there to assist David when the chips are down. But the greatest help comes not from these earthly relationships we form, but from the Lord!

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24


Who is your best friend?

Who should be your best friend?

Check Your Friendship Rating




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