“Mommy, please tell me the story again. Who am I named after?”
My middle son, in his animated bedtime-stalling fashion, would beg me to tell him about his beloved namesake, the biblical hero who is one of the greatest human examples of unselfish steadfast love.
“His name is Jonathan.” I would reply.
My son knew I would always retell the story because I love the deep ties of love that bound the unique soul friendship between Jonathan and David.
Jonathan, respected warrior and eldest son of King Saul was the probable heir to the throne of Israel, according to tradition. This all changes when David, the obscure shepherd boy arrives on the scene. David’s skilled harp playing and impressive defeat in the brave fight against Goliath affords him great favor, respect, and notoriety. But, long before this great feat, God had a different plan for a king.
David was His choice, and Jonathan stood to lose a great deal.
Jonathan could have shunned David with royal arrogance, treated him with contempt, boasted, and fought for his rightful position as the king’s son. Instead he embraced David. They had so much in common: leaders, warriors, and men of integrity.
David and Jonathan developed a soul friendship: one knit together with the deep abiding strands of love that desires only God’s best for the other. Although scripture isn’t specific, at some point in this forging friendship Jonathan realizes that it is David who is destined to be the next king of Israel.
He unselfishly gives David his robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt—all the things that represent his royal status. Without a trace of envy, he steps aside and willing lives in the shadow casted by David’s divine destiny. Jonathan, rightful heir to the throne, graciously steps aside pledging his enduring love, protection, and support for the future King David.
Everyone needs a Jonathan in his or her life. And we all need to be a Jonathan to someone.
This kind of friendship is a rarity. It is a relationship that is defined and rooted in the eternal love of God. Characterized by freedom, this friendship encourages each person to be everything God created them to be. It is a friendship that is healthy, unrestricted, enriching, and it is one that expands the depth and width of life.
Today, let’s reflect on these questions and let Jesus speak into our closest friendship(s). Thank Him. Ask Him to strengthen the ties of love. And then let Him clarify and purify the places in our friendship(s) that need additional health, vitality, and, healing.
Who is your Jonathan? And, who are you a Jonathan to?
Are you able to freely love a friend? Are you able to extend grace accepting them for who they are? And, are you able to encourage them in their divine calling?
Are you willing to stand in the background and cheer them on?
Are you able to celebrate their gifts and talents?
Do you ever feel a sense of competition?
Scriptures of the Day:
“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
“A person without a soul friend is like a body without a head.” (attributed to St. Brigid of Kildare)