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12. Genuine Friendship

December 17, 2009

Text:    I Samuel 20:1-42

Outline:            I. Examining and Renewing      I Samuel 20:1-3

II. Discerning and Deciding      I Samuel 20:4-33

III. Grieving and Parting      I Samuel 20:34-41

IV. God and Caring      I Samuel 20:42


David has had spears thrown at him by Saul and has been forced to flee twice to save his life. He is distraught, concerned, and confused by what is happening. He is now separated from his wife and his family. He has sought the Lord and now he seeks out his friend Jonathan, Saul’s son.

David leaves the prophets at Naioth and returns to the area of Gibeah to seek out Jonathan to try and understand what the reason might be for Saul to kill him. Jonathan tells David not to worry; his father would tell him of his intentions. David doesn’t agree in that Saul knows they are friends and will keep his intentions from Jonathan. Jonathan commits to helping David in any way he can so David asks Jonathan to cover for him when he doesn’t attend the king’s banquet the next night saying he is in Bethlehem sacrificing with his family. If Saul accepts his excuse it is a sign he is safe. If Saul is angry then David is not safe and asks Jonathan to kill him if he, David, is guilty of wrong in Jonathan’s eyes. That is, Jonathan, David’s friend, is to decide who is right and wrong and to who his loyalty rests, to David or his father.

David and Jonathan go out into a field and decide on the signals they will use to determine if David is safe or if Saul still desires to kill David. Jonathan pledges his loyalty to David and asks that his family be spared should he be killed. Thus David and Jonathan renew their covenant of friendship which is grounded by their faith in God.

Jonathan tells David to be at the same field where all this began to unravel, that is when David fled for the second time. Jonathan will shoot arrows and David is to listen to Jonathan’s instructions to his servant to know whether he is safe or must flee. If Jonathan’s arrows go beyond the rock, David must flee.

David hides in the field and the king’s banquet takes place. On the second day of David’s absence, Saul questions Jonathan and Jonathan gives David’s excuse. Saul becomes angry, curses Jonathan and his mother, curses Jonathan’s friendship with David, and hurls his spear at his own son Jonathan. Saul realizes that if David isn’t killed, Jonathan will not be king.

Jonathan is grieved and ashamed of his father so he goes to the field with his servant to practice with his bow. He shoots arrows beyond the rock and tells the boy to go farther out in the field and to hurry. The boy servant is sent back to Jonathan’s house so that Jonathan and David can meet briefly alone, with David bowing to Jonathan and grieving together not knowing what the future will bring. Their friendship is strong, their faith in God is strong, God is with them and is their witness to care for each other’s families depending on what the future brings.


1. Evaluate your friendships and determine which need shoring up. Seek out at least one person, other than your spouse, with whom you can confide your greatest concerns in complete confidence of confidentiality.

2. Two heads are better than one. That is one of the most rewarding aspects of true and genuine friendships, especially in times of difficulty.

3. Faith in God sometimes forces us to make difficult decisions with respect to loyalty, right and wrong, family or friends etc. Always include the Lord God in making these difficult and critical decisions. Once the decision is made, trust in God for what the future holds.

4. True friendship extends beyond a person to that of caring for that person’s family.

5. True friendship has its’ foundation in a common purpose, faith in God. Our bond in the Lord God is stronger than our bond with our natural family [see Luke 8:19-21].


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