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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:The Reformed Church of Oamaru
 Oamaru, New Zealand
Preached At:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
Title:Jonathan: Meet Him As A Friend
Text:1 Samuel 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:0 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Communion of Saints

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.

1 SAMUEL 18:1-4; 19:1-7; 20:1-16 Jonathan: Meet Him As A Friend (Please note that this sermons is broken up into three parts with the reading of the relevant scripture passage before each part.) #1 - He’s A Friend Because Of What He Shares (Reading: 1 Samuel 18:1-4) Boys and girls… Do you have a friend? Perhaps you have lots of friends! Out of those friends, is there one who’s your really best friend? You know, a boy or girl who’s really close to you. Someone, who, even though you haven’t seen each other for ages, you get on with straight away! You’re so close! You share everything! We say this is the kind of friendship that just ‘clicks’. It’s as though you made for each other. Even though you may not be related to each other, or come from the same kind of background as each other, you connect. In the words of Proverbs 18:24, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there’s a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” That’s close! Families can be very loyal and strong. But this is stronger still! You can see this in these verses from 1 Samuel 18. When it says, “Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself,” it means they’re the very best of mates! They are so close, David, in 2nd Samuel 1:16, describes Jonathan’s love for him as being more wonderful than that of women. So let’s understand how close this friendship is. And let’s understand it the right way, too. Because some people try to make this friendship something which it isn’t. They say this was a homosexual love. But that’s not a natural love - that’s an unnatural lust. And that’s certainly nothing compared with the love of women! Nor is this a friendship a woman cannot have. In fact, a woman can have it with a close friend, or a wife with her husband. To use some modern jargon, they are “soul-mates”. That’s a phrase which expresses well the friendship of Jonathan and David. They are friends who definitely have the right kind of souls, because the Lord’s in their hearts. Their love points to the special Christian love we read of in the New Testament - agape love. And still it’s even more than that. Through Jonathan, then, let’s see what true friendship is. And what we see in this passage in chapter 18, is that… HE’S A FRIEND BECAUSE OF WHAT HE SHARES. After David’s defeat of Goliath, he was a national hero. There was no doubt that he was popular. And that would have attracted people to him - people who wanted to be seen to be his friends. But they would only have been fair-weather friends. As soon as their hero wasn’t flavour-of-the-month, they’re not around anymore! Here, though, it’s quite clearly the opposite. For here is someone who’s just as popular as David! And listen to what’s said. The language used is very committed. Verse 1 says, of Jonathan, “He became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.” That’s definite. This is no casual acquaintance. In fact, they sign on it. Well, that’s how we could describe its seriousness these days. For when Jonathan “made a covenant with David”, this is no passing fad. He used the most important way of showing his commitment to the friendship. It’s like they are ‘blood brothers’. Perhaps you have heard of this expression. You see, ‘blood brothers’ are two friends who seal their friendship with blood. They do that by cutting themselves on their wrists or arms, and then joining their wrists or arms where they’ve cut. The blood is mixed together. Through what gives them life they declare their loyalty to each other. That’s serious! It’s this seriousness which is shown by what Jonathan does next. And what does he do? Like two friends who share their blood, he gives David part of himself. You see, the way they declared their closest friendship then was by giving some of their clothes and weapons. In this way they gave their most valued possession. Today the equivalent for our boys would be to give their bike or special game to their best friend! And, in return, their friend would give his bike – of his special game! Dear believer, what would be close to your heart? That’s something to think about, isn’t it? But this isn’t quite one of those exchanges. This is one-sided. For it’s just Jonathan who gives to David. And he who at one stage was only one of two men in Israel with metal armour, gives that sword to David now. There’s no record of what David gave in return. And no wonder! He had nothing to give back! Except, his friendship in the faith. And here the expression ‘soul mates’ really does come into its own. As S.G. De Graaf notes, Jonathan sees the obvious faith in David. In his words, “Seeing what David had done and hearing him witness about it now had a liberating effect on Jonathan. “He made a covenant of friendship with David, for in his heart he was bound to him forever.” Congregation, with a special insight, Jonathan could see what was going to happen. He really walked with the LORD. That’s why he was ready to be led by the LORD. The Spirit was guiding him. He was becoming ready for what was going to happen. Let’s show we want to do the same as we live our lives with the Lord and with His people. We turn now to the next Scripture… #2 - He’s A Friend Because Of How He Dares (Reading: 1 Samuel 19:1-7) Congregation… It’s becomes a lot harder to be David’s friend in chapter 19. King Saul tells Jonathan and all his attendants to kill David! A terrible thing to tell others to do. Especially to someone who is that person’s best friend! Did Saul say this to Jonathan because he knew he was friends with David? Or is Saul simply having one of his moments - those times he showed he wasn’t friends with the Greatest Friend! Let’s see what was happening to Saul in the verses before our text. Look at verse 5 of chapter 18: “Whatever Saul sent him to do, David did it so successfully that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. “This pleased all the people, and Saul’s officers as well.” After one victory the people sang a song which praised David a lot more than Saul. And so the verses 8 and 9 tell us, “Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. ‘They have credited David with tens of thousands,’ he thought, ‘but me with only thousands. “‘What more can he get but the kingdom?’ “And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David.” That’s why Saul tried to kill David by throwing his spear - twice! And right throughout the rest of chapter 18 Saul is scheming to take David out. We especially notice this when it says in verses 12 and 29 that Saul is afraid of David. You see, fear is the opposite of love. You can’t be friends with someone if you’re scared of them. That shows how far Saul is away from his LORD. He should’ve been only too happy that this man obviously blessed by God is in his army, and is being an obedient officer. But there’s no joy in his heart. He’s far away from God. And then he can only trust himself! Chapter 19 begins with showing how this situation worsens. Saul now is trying to get others to kill David, too. He’s putting the pressure on those he controls to do his dirty work. And you can be sure that he’s putting them in the most awkward situation where it’s hard not to do it. Congregation, people wonder how there could ever be evil dictators like Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin. Well, you can read all about it here. You see, those leaders become so driven to dominate everything that they have taken good things and made them bad. People were attracted to their good qualities. They did stand out - not just physically as Saul did! And they abused that. They more and more rule their subjects by fear - just as much as they become more afraid of losing control. Ask anyone who lived through that kind of rule what it was like. They’ll tell you - it was scary. You couldn’t feel free. And while the trains might run on time, and everyone has a job, there’s always fear. Any moment someone could dob you in! Then you’re gone - and no one would ever know you had ever been! There was one example I remember in connection with communist Bulgaria. A book I saw showed two photographs of the leading politicians in that country. The second, later, version of the same photo had very cleverly taken out one of those leaders. He had fallen out of favour. And so he no longer existed! It was as if he had never been! So Jonathan shows real courage in this passage. He goes the opposite way. In fact, he goes out of his way to bring Saul and David together. HE’S A FRIEND BECAUSE OF HOW HE DARES. Our second aspect. Congregation, there is a Spanish proverb which says that if someone gossips to you about someone else, you can be sure that they are gossiping about you when they’re talking to someone else. That’s not a friend. And perhaps you’ve met one of these so-called ‘friends’. You can’t trust them. Because they don’t really care. To them, you’re just there, someone to use. That’s why you remember that abuse. We have to remember that about Jonathan. He didn’t have to do this. In fact, he would have been under enormous pressure to also hate David and be jealous of him. But Jonathan loves David. And when you really care for someone you’ll do whatever you can so that they won’t be hurt. Even if it means taking it up with those who are a lot more older and powerful than you. In the 1600’s in England, Oliver Cromwell was the Lord Protector of the country. He had imprisoned George Fox, the leader of the Society of Friends. They are also known as Quakers. Now, with the state of the prisons then, it was a chronic health risk. Many died from diseases in those filthy dungeons. One of the Friends went to Oliver Cromwell. He offered himself, body for body, to lie in that prison instead of Fox. Cromwell was so struck with that offer he said to the great men of the Council, who ruled England, “Which of you would do as much for me if I was in the same situation?” He could not accept the friend’s offer, because it was against the law. But he was deeply struck by the way that man cared. He laid his life on the line! That’s what Jonathan does his for David. And notice how he does it. In verse 4 he very diplomatically lays before his father what David has done for him. He points to the Lord’s working through David in all that. And then he draws it altogether with the fact of David’s innocence. Jonathan, with his whole heart, showed what was in his heart. That’s Christ-like. In the same way, in the first century after Christ, Christians were known by the way they loved each other. They were even labelled as those prepared to die for each other! That was Christ-like! But is it still the same today? Are there Jonathan’s in God’s Church still? Does this world know us by the way we care? Can they see in us the One who ultimately cared? Is Christ crucified shown by those who bear His Name? Congregation, let’s show that we may indeed love like Jesus. Because we love Him first of all. And now we turn to our third reading... # 3 - He’s A Friend Because Of The Way He Cares! (Reading: 1 Samuel 20:1-16) Congregation… The story moves on. And it’s an increasingly unhappy story. For while Saul and David were reconciled, that didn’t stay in Saul’s heart for long. He let the evil spirit take over. All those fears came back into him always worse than before. David now is constantly on the run. He can’t trust anyone, for fear of getting dobbed in to Saul. And so he goes to his friend. Jonathan is his one true human friend. Notice how David is completely open with Jonathan. He tells it like it is. Jonathan is honestly shocked. He hasn’t picked this up about his father at all! And we know why. As David says, Saul is not going to upset his oldest son. He wouldn’t want his evil pointed out to him. So Jonathan has been kept in the dark. He is deliberately misled. You’ll find that happens. Sometimes friends honestly don't have an idea of what you’re going through. And that’s not because they don’t care. It could have been because you have kept it to yourself. Or you thought they would have known. I know that as a minister. Many times people have said to me about some important news, “What, you didn’t know?” Well, it’s a bit difficult if no one tells you! So David tells Jonathan. And in telling him he receives the reassurance - twice! - that Jonathan had no idea about it. You see, he still respected his Dad. It was his parents who had brought him up in the right way. It was through his parents that the LORD had made him one of his covenant people. He had thought the best - he had shown he was a true nobleman. In a way, Jonathan should have known. He had once reconciled the two, after seeing how much his Dad wanted David killed. And he must have heard since about David’s escape, through Michal, David’s wife. Michal was, after all, his sister. Perhaps, though, he had been too busy otherwise. He would have been someone doing his duty. And he would think others are doing that, too. That’s what he knew the LORD loved. That’s the character he was. When we can help a friend out, however, we must do it. And that’s what Jonathan now does. That’s why he means it when he says, in verse 4, “Whatever you want me to do, I’ll do for you.” To sum up this third part of the sermon… HE’S A FRIEND BECAUSE OF THE WAY HE CARES! David has been open with Jonathan. He has even outlined a test for Jonathan to realise what’s on his father’s heart. And he’s underlined his request with the covenant they’ve made in the LORD together. He really depends on Jonathan. Think about it, congregation. David might have been tempted to look at himself in a positive light. He was a man of integrity. He was good enough to be the king! But Jonathan simply wiped that all away. With such a natural heir for the throne, the choice of David couldn’t be on how good he was. Jonathan was also popular with the people - and he was more than equal with David in military exploits. He was a nobleman in character, as well as rank. He would have made a distinguished king. Now Jonathan proves that decisively. He gives his word again in the LORD. He dedicates himself to doing himself out of that very kingship! And all because of the LORD! Just as David knew it was only the LORD’s choice which had chosen him. He had been anointed. He was the one to lead Israel in God’s mysterious plan. He could only ask that LORD and Jonathan for help. He wouldn’t be able to do it on his own. But in laying that before his friend, he does so knowing that it will be done. Here is someone who really does care. In his book “Great Expectations”, Charles Dickens tells how Pip went to visit for a last time his benefactor, Magwitch. He was the dying ex-convict, who had been condemned to die by hanging. The convict took Pip’s hand, and said, “You’ve never deserted me, dear boy... “And what’s best of all, you’ve been more comfort to me, since I was under a dark cloud, than when the sun shone. “That’s best of all.” Congregation, it isn’t when the sun is shining, but when the clouds gather, and darkness comes down, that friendship has its real test. The test Jonathan passed. He was there for his friend in his most desperate time. Dear friend, is that who Jesus Christ is to you? Is He the One you go to when there’s no one else to go to? Is He the One you go to in spite of everyone else? Do you pour out your heart to Him, when you can no longer keep it all in? Have you found in Him the faithful friend? He knows all your weaknesses. He knows all that you need. Take it to Him - in prayer. Amen. PRAYER: Let’s pray... O Jesus, You have said when we are weary and burdened, we must come to You. You promised us then rest for our souls. For You are gentle and humble in heart. Thank You, Lord. You are right there, right when we need You. You are the perfect Friend. In Your precious name we pray, Amen.

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
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(c) Copyright 2001, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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