God has given us an example of true friendship in the persons of David and Jonathan. There was something that clicked between them and they became fast friends and brothers at the heart. They were loyal to each other, pledged to protect each other, and there was a shared feeling of love between them. David promised he would always be kind and take care of Jonathan’s family (1 Sam 20:14-15). Here we see David fulfilling his promise:
3 The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.”
4 “Where is he?” the king asked.
Ziba answered, “He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.”
5 So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.
6 When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honor.
David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“At your service,” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.” (2 Sam 9:3-7) NIV
This story of Mephibosheth made me realize I have my own such story. While I have had many friends in my life, I only had one I would consider a Jonathan. I met her while we were in Celebrate Recovery. We were both broken people in need of healing. I truly believe God answered my prayer for a Godly friend. As our friendship deepened, she adopted me as part of her family and I was included in all family gatherings. This hurting woman (me) needed the love and connection she provided and my home became an emotional safe haven for her. Together we grew in our relationship with God and shared what He was teaching each of us. We traveled places, laughed, and watched movies—we had so much in common. She was there for me when my mother died.
Needless to say, I was devastated when God called her home unexpectedly a short time later. But what has come out of this friendship has been a relationship with her mother. After my friend passed away, her mom (whom I had gotten to know quite well), said “you’ve lost a mother, I’ve lost a daughter; maybe we can be that for each other!” I knew my friend so well and her mom could talk to me about all the struggles my friend had been having. She felt safe sharing with me because she knew I loved her daughter like a sister. I still visit her often, we call each other, and love each other. God has blessed us with such a sweet friendship. It did not take away the pain for either of us, we still grieved our losses. But He provided that bond through someone we both loved.
David’s heart of compassion, his loyalty, and his devotion to God and his people are only part of what made David such a great king. In the very next chapter, his character is doubted.
2 David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, 3 the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?” 4 So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away. (2 Sam 10:2-4)
Why do the words of the Ammonite commanders remind me so much of the serpent in the Garden? They placed doubt in the mind of the Hanun. And so begins a war that never needed to happen. Talk about getting bad advice. It is sad to live in a world where we’ve come to doubt people’s motives and believe they are out to get us. Instead of talking to the envoys first, they assumed the worst. David had the best of intentions and the men he sent to honor Nahash are humiliated. In one chapter, Mephibosheth believes David and is blessed by his kindness. In the very next chapter, the Ammonites don’t trust David’s kindness and war erupts.
16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Cor 2:16).
I think Paul hit that point right on! We are called to love as Jesus did. Not everyone is going to believe we can love expecting nothing in return. Not everyone believed Jesus was the real deal either. But it never stopped him from being loving to everyone—even the ones who betrayed and denied him. From these readings, my takeaway is to treat everyone with kindness but to expect opposition.
Lord, please don’t let me be dissuaded from loving people no matter how I am treated. It is very easy to turn against people in general because of ways I’ve been treated. But then I remember all the people who have loved me when I was not very lovable. May I have a David heart and look for ways to be kind to people. In Jesus name, Amen