A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. (Proverb 17:17)
Increasingly less is spoken about friendship these days, although, ‘philosophers ranked it the first and most outstanding of fortunes: that is, it is the least exposed to what is most essential for humans and luck’. Whereas everybody has friends, the question is if they are real friends. Friendship is an indispensable part of human existence, probably one of the strongest forms of love-relations, in addition to love. It is not solely important for us to satisfy our spiritual needs. It has another role as well: we may look at ourselves when looking at our friend as if looking in a mirror. ‘One of the clearest signs that show our personality is the personality of our chosen friend.’1
Jonathan and Jesus
We will probably find only a few sentences on this subject, these, however, are extremely stressed. In relation to human friendship we may cite Job and his companion, who, nevertheless, eventually proved not to be real friends, for which they were rebuked hard.
The Holy Scripture refers to three people in terms of relationship between God and man:
- Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.’ (Jacob 2:23)
- And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. (2Moses 33:11)
JohntheBaptist called himself the friend of the bridegroom. Thus, is it possible that Who is eternal, omniscient and Who has all the power, Who can literary do anything would chose an infinite creature for his friend?
When writing down the quote cited from the Proverbs, Solomon must have remembered the best friend of his father, Jonathan. He saved the life of David risking his life several times. It was confirmed that he really was ‘the gift of God – the literal meaning of the word Jonathan: ‘This friendship was kindled by the love of God, to save the life of the future king of Israel.’2 The friendship of Jonathan and David, a legendary story, is well-known all over the world. The lessons it teaches, however, may be less obvious for us. When we consider Jonathan and David’s life, it becomes apparent that, even though their emotions were mutually warm and faithful to one another, their friendship finally turned out to be unequal: Jonathan, in human terms, ‘lost’, and lost a lot more than David, the future king of Israel, did by this friendship, and lost even more by maintaining it. In other words, the son of Saul gave everything to David, who, in consequence of his situation, accepted the outpours of Jonathan’s love. It is worth studying the characteristic features and consequences of Jonathan’s friendship towards David, especially because the interweaving road they took enriches the statement with a denotation above itself.
There is another person, born in Bethlehem, who carried out the ideas of Solomon. This person can be a perfect, faithful companion to everyone. Strangely, nearly every motif we highlight in relation to Jonathan is true, although on a higher level in His case. We may say that Jonathan – the gift of God – is only a faint, nevertheless amazing reflection of the gift of God to humanity. This gift is Jesus Christ. In what respect can we declare that He is our friend? Two verses should be enough to demonstrate it:
- What are these wounds in thine hands Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. (Zechariah 13:6)
This prophecy from the book of Zechariah had been written centuries before the coming of the Messiah and is an obvious allusion to the wounds of Jesus. The Son of God calls men, who will kill him, his friends. Subsequently, during his life on Earth, he repeats the initiative for his disciples:
- Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends.’ (John 15:13-14)
It is certain that He considers the disciples his friends with whom He shares his ideas and intentions, moreover for- and to whom He gives the most: His own life. Whereas Jonathan’s love was restricted to a single person and a limited period of time, all people ever born in the past and to be born in the future are to find friends in Jesus. Below, we are to highlight characteristics of this friendship, first in connection with Jonathan, then with the son of God.
- Jonathan loved him as his own soul.’ (1Samuel 18:1b)
It is an extremely rare and heavy statement. Is there anybody about whom we would say these same words, honestly, without pretence? Jonathan brought to fruition the second requirement of the second stone tablet of the Ten Commandment that Jesus summarized as: Love your neighbour as yourself. (Matthew 22:39) When, for example, he saw David’s spiritual sufferings, his fear of death, he told him: Whatever you say, I will do for you. (1Samuel 20:4) – and he did what he promised. I will discuss the topic in more details below. This divine quality of love is a witness of an attitude radically different from what we are accustomed to: it is not me in the centre of the world but another person to whom I focus my attention, whom I accept unconditionally, and for whom I am ready to make sacrifices, an effort springing from my love.
There is only one base for this selflessness: our strong love-relationship to God. This relation alone made it possible for him to hold on to the love he had chosen in every situation, in view of the fact that Jonathan, caused by David, found himself in a very elusive situation. He submitted himself to God’s will; he was obedient, firstly to the God of Israel, secondly to his father in blood. He must have loved God, and must have denied himself a number of times, not to hate either Saul or David.
Jesus clearly stated his love, together with its ‘height’.
- Greaterlove hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
He was ready to give everything, even his life, for man – thus, there is no greater love in the whole universe than what He gave to us when leaning down to us. To die innocent as a guarantor of the guilty, to take on eternal damnation for those who should deserve it and finally give his own, eternal life to them. There is no higher love than that; we see it only in the soul of the Creator.
For the Son of God, the Apostle Paul uses another parallel, which, however, eventually means the same as what we read in the Book of Samuel. He loves his church the same as others love their lives:
- For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of His flesh, and of His bones.’ For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (Ephesus 5:29-31)
The last sentence undoubtedly suggest that Christ, in his deep love for man, left his Father to devote himself to the one his heart chose, his wife, and the creatures born from his body. Both verbs are extremely important. They express deep affinity, of which active devotion springs. Nevertheless, we would not be able to exist without our soul, nor our body.
We can find only one sentence about the friendship between David and Jonathan.
- And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David. (1Samuel 18:1a)
The son of the first king of Israel obviously earwitnessed and witnessed David’s wonderful and marvellous victory over Goliath. He probably also heard the honest words of the young shepherd boy who won the heart of both the king and the son of the king. That was the moment from which the two of them became inseparable friends, spiritually undoubtedly. Due to some agonizing circumstances, however, they could not spend much time together. The ‘melting’ of these two souls obviously rooted in love based on attraction that, in the flow of events, did not weaken; on the contrary, it became stronger. Similarity in the way of their thinking and mentality naturally signifies similarity in personality. It also indicates identical intentions and destinations. Concerning the latter, it is obvious that Jonathan focused his powers on saving the life of David henceforth. He was ready to take care of him. With this, he basically subordinated his intentions, his will to his love, for his friends, namely, according to the principal: esteeming each other is superior to you. (Philippians 2:3)
- But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in.(1 Corinthians 6:17)
In the case of Jesus Christ, it is more obvious that the relationship that formed was so unequal through his, the Son of God’s commitment to fallen man. In the case of Adam, however, we cannot speak about heroism. On the contrary! It was not noble principles or honourable, wonderful deeds that evoked compassion in the heart of Jesus, but the fatal mistake, subsequently man’s cowardly hiding, and the consequence of all these together, shortly: ultimate devastation. Despite of this, or rather exactly for this was why Jesus devoted himself to saving man, to subordinating his entire person to the aspiration: literary, to save man at all costs! Even more, it was much more than that: Just like Jonathan rescued the enthroning of Jesus with every step he took, Jesus’ union with man was aimed at regaining kingdom over the Earth, that had been lost. It was an undividable and strong relationship: just as the body cannot exist without the soul, or the soul cannot work without the body, just as the vine-shoot dries and dies without being connected to the vine-shoot is how Christ unifies with the man who loves Him, and it is how Jesus is devoted to his Beloved friend. This unity reminds me of the relationship of a man and woman in love, their dedication to each other. However, Jesus’ love is a lot deeper and more permanent.
Springing from his love and devotion, Jonathan made covenant with the youngest son of Isaiah voluntarily, in fact, against his own future interest:
- Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt. (1Samuel 18:3)
The covenant was furthermore a mutual promise: it meant: I commit myself voluntarily to remain faithful, even risking my lie, and save the life of the one I chose to be my covenant companion. I offer my life and my service to the other. Jonathan, to express this, got undressed and gave his friend his upper garment he was wearing and all his armour: his sword, his bow and belt. With this gesture, he basically elevated David, made him equal with himself, made him his brother, and basically made him the son of the king; then he practically expressed that he loved David just as he loved his own soul. At that moment, David had no opportunity to return this generosity as, compared to Jonathan, at least at the beginning of their friendship, he was a mere shepherd boy with nothing but his satchel and his sling. Although, in a while, David turned out to be a victorious commander. The wreath of Saul also added to their relationship remaining unequal. On the other hand, David could only express his devotion to the son of the king through his love and gratitude. He was penniless, and a persecuted person. Also, when we take a good look, we can see that David caused problems for Jonathan constantly.
God decided alone, on his own to make covenant with the only creature that failed. His intention was to win back alienated man, and also to raise him, to resituate him, even more, to glorify him:
- Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.’ (…) says the Lord: ‘I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33)
After the failure of Adam, Jesus Christ was the new Man in whose heart God wrote the law of love, namely, his own personality:
- And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (1Corinthians 15:45)
This covenant, however, could only be validated through sacrificing the life of Jesus, by giving his blood. He could become the head of the new humanity trough his death and resurrection. In him we find eternal, perfect life. During the last supper, Jesus declared his covenant with the following words:
- While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take it; this is my body. Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them: This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’ (Mark 14:22-24)
Blood is not simply used for purification; it is not only used to clean sin by. It is also the eternal, pure and perfect vehicle of life!
Tangible signs in the covenant are really telling. They do not only turn up in the case of Jonathan. Jesus also gave his upper garment to us as a gift:
- To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:3)
- Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 13:14)
The garment of praise is non other than the immaculate character, holiness, together with righteous acts springing from it, those that Adam lost. He, however, gave it back to us, precisely, what he had possession of. The advice the apostle Paul gave is to confirm this. Instead of putting on our old self, we should put on Christ, namely, the adornment of holy life, with its joy, glory and truth.
In addition, Christ also gave man armour.
- He gave us wartime armour, a sword, a belt and a bow as a gift: ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:110-17)
And really, He presented everything to us necessary to live in peace. He can give us protection and strength against every inner and outer attack. The belt of truth is the honest personality that focuses on God; it knows where ego should be. In truth selfishness is completely absent. The breastplate of righteousness will defend from the arrow of deceit and lies; consequently, it defends from the lies of Satan. The shield of faith is the shelter from doubt and faint-heartedness, a tool of devotion to celestial reality. The sword of the spirit, namely, the words of God, endow holy, creating power to man that will make all the armies of the evil draw back, and done it even in Jesus’ lifetime. However, it is life that springs from it. We have to mention an important element:
- And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:14)
If God is love (1John 4:8) than what we are talking about is, again, putting on the garment, the life of Christ.
David managed to defeat all his enemies with simple, metal weapons he received from Jonathan. These have however, perished by now. How much more divine tools are effective, those that are unspoilable and available for everyone.
In the case of Jonathan and David, in a restrictive sense, we can talk about ‘eternal’ covenant too, given that it did not only consider the two of them:
- But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David’s enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul. (1Samuel 20:15-17)
Here, Jonathan’s grandson referred to the future as if he had been a prophet. He saw the failure of Saul’s house due to the fault of his own father. It might have been the only time when he asked something from David, even then he did not ask it for himself.
David really remained faithful to his oath. Later on he took care of the son of his friend as a king should:
- And the king said: Is there not yet any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto him? And Ziba said unto the king: Jonathan hath yet a son, which is lame on his feet. Now when Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David, he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said: Mephibosheth. And he answered: Behold thy servant! And David said unto him: ,Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually. (2Samuel 9:3.6-7)
Only two generations grew up under the covenant with David. The covenant with God, however, is valid for a thousand generations:
- Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant.’(Hebrews 13:20)
It is not only eternal in terms of its encompassing both the first and the last man born, but also infinite in time. Jesus Christ himself confirmed the covenant before his death:
- Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ (John 17:20-21)
Everybody who believes in Christ may become the friend of God, just like Abraham did thousands of years ago. Our almighty friend, then, undertook a covenant in which the weight and the deed are resting on His shoulder. He gives us everything he has, and his commitment is to accompany us through eternity.
Just like king David had Mephibosheth sit at his table, Jesus promised his friends:
- Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.(Revelation 19:9)
The covenant was agreed upon by Jonathan. Maintaining it, after all, meant for Jonathan giving up the throne in favour of his persecuted friend:
- For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. (1Samuel 20:31)
This sentence was uttered by the enraged Saul, who clearly saw the consequences of his son’s acts. However, he was not ready to admit that it was him who caused the whole conflict, and, after all, it was his acts that were behind the need for a new king. It was such an extensive sacrifice on the part of the king’s son that it is almost incomprehensible these days, seeing that we neither have the opportunity to practice nor to experience such a generosity. Jonathan gave up his kingdom, subordinating himself to his friend in advance, behind whom he could at best be the second in line.
- And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. (1Samuel 23:17)
(This statement clearly shows that Jonathan would have been suited the throne, much more than his father did.) On the other hand, what we also find behind his decision is his bow before the will of God, his unconditional obedience: he accepted it, even though it obviously caused him pain in his heart. Another reason why he accepted Yahweh’s choice was for the love and respect for his father. Even now, he did not rebel, did not get bitter but remained friend to the man who so to say ‘knocked him back in his saddle’. Furthermore, he knew exactly that the process could not be turned round: the house of Saul was to end once and for all. His behaviour is an ornate example of somebody’s oath against his own best and would not change it. (Psalm 15:4b) Jonathan’s words refer to one of the Bridegroom’s friends. The next sentence about Jesus was uttered by John the Baptist: He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30) It is the same conscious, generous subordination and sacrifice as we see with the covenant with David.
Even this much would make a man ponder; however, this is nothing compared to the renunciation on the part of Jesus. He consciously renounced the seat by his Father’s throne, all the powers of the universe, al the glory and treasure when he committed himself to the covenant to be made with man. When he came onto Earth, he did not come as the king of honour:
- Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.’ (Zechariah 9:9)
For a king, he owned nothing but his cloths and his sandals. Moreover, he had no place where he could have laid his head down. His humbleness, nonetheless, was not near to being over:
- Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.(Philippians 2:5-8)
He subjected himself to all the constraints and pain of human life, he accepted all the ignoble processes of the conceptual trial and in the end he was ready to accept the most disgraceful death to achieve his purpose: he gave his life to his unfaithful friends as a friend. The Apostle Paul’s statement is hardly true entirely:
- For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.(2Corinthians 8:9)
We do not know about the greatness of this good deed, this wealth in its depth, though, we may have a faint idea. One thing is for sure: His treasures are in abundance for us to feel enchanted!
Jonathan’s fight for his friend chiefly took place in front of the king, and with the king. Saul, due to his jealousy, hated his son-in-law increasingly more. He hated the man whose actions aided God in helping his people escape from the oppression of the Philistines. Saul was sometimes so enraged that it was not enough for him to order his servants to end David’s life, he himself set out to do so. In these trying times, the son of the king often interceded with the king for David, trying to conciliate his rage:
- And Jonathan spoke good of David unto Saul his father: Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-wards very good. For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel. Thou sawest it and dist rejoice; wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, as the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain. (1Samuel 19: 4-6)
Unfortunately, his calming words were needed not only once. He had to remind the king of David’s merits, his courage, his innocence, and that he had risked his own life to save Israel from a grave defeat. However, Saul sworn in vain. Evil took over and he began chasing his son-in-law again. David needed Jonathan’s help yet again.
- And Jonathan said unto David:O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father about tomorrow any time, or the third day, and, behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee, and shew it thee? The Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father. (1Samuel 20: 12-13)
Consequently, he sent the message to Saul, and also had to let David know what his father’s intentions were in order to warn him to flee, right away if possible. He needed a lot of courage and honesty to disclose the actual conditions to his friends, and also disclose his father the friendship that threatened the throne. His last sentence reflects only slightly, and in riddles, to his spiritual sufferings: he saw it clearly that the soul of God had left Saul, more precisely, Saul had left God; on the other hand, God had blessed David in every respect.
Jonathan’s selfless mediation was a pale, but bright image of Jesus’ pontifical service to every believer in all times:
- And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.(Hebrews 9:15)
His aim was a lot more than suspension of the death penalty. He proposed an immortal, complete life to his friends. In the case of Christ, naturally, we cannot say that the Father looked at the fallen creatures with hate. On the contrary:
- And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, (…); To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.(2Corinthians 5:18-19)
Thus, on one hand, God himself initiated saving man’s life, and not from his wreath, but the consequences of man’s sinful deeds. On the other hand, man was the one that turned against his creator as his enemy. Man’s heart had to be reconciled as his misshapen image of God. Man’s fears and hatred is there on Jesus in the form of wounds he received in his friends’ house. Still, it was Him who declared peace and who created peace in man’s heart, the consequence of which, once and for all, is that in whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. (Ephesians 3:12)
Jesus, just like Jonathan is empathetic. He turns to his friends whom he represents with compassionate heart:
- Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
All conditions are given, therefore, to open our heart to him with confidence, to show him our emotions, our thoughts because he sees them clearly, and understands those, from a distance, too, who turn towards us with praying and faithful heart.
Another resemblance we may discover is that Jesus’ intercession was not a one-sided course either. In addition to mediating man’s prayers, he did a lot more:
- I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)
He has disclosed God’s intentions to us, which, however, are not only about the annihilation of the evil. On the contrary! The Son mediates the good plans of his Father, namely, he announces His love to us, and shares the Good News with us about redemption, about living among us and inside of us.
Jonathan’s love and affection for David evoked his father’s wreath increasingly more. He basically put himself into an impossible situation at court, so much that Saul nearly killed him, too:
- Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him: Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness? And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? Wherefore shall he be slain? What hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David. So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. (1 Samuel 20:30.32-34)
At the beginning of Jonathan and David’s friendship it was not explicit that Jonathan finally would have to choose between the respect and love for his father in blood, the obedience to him and between faithfulness for the friend he chose. These conflicted increasingly more with time. It is sure that these caused Jonathan considerable pain and suffering. He tried to keep both relationships as long as was possible. Eventually, however, the conditions were such that he had to make his choice. He chose to undertake conflict with his father for the sake of his friend, with all the curses he received, death included. It is staggering to notice that his pain came from seeing all the disgrace on David. It shows a higher quality of Jonathan’s love. It was the defamation of his innocently hounded friend that ravaged him, as well as his father’s disgraceful behaviour. It was not his being close to death that enraged him; it was his wreath towards the king, his contempt. Still, he did not resolve on breaking with his family for good. He did not flee to the forest, following David, but remained with Saul. Another testimony to his noble character is that he obeyed to the king in everything, except for the case of his friend. Jonathan remained with his father, and was faithful to him up to the last, tragic fight.
The pure, sensitive soul of Jesus was never contaminated by any sin; he found even the idea of sin repugnant. His holiness was infinitely higher even than his faithful friends’ susceptibility to truth. His disciples were considerably blunted by so much sin arising from their nature burdened by selfishness. Exactly for this reason, Jesus’ pain was immeasurably worse. Not only because he could read people’s heart as open books, but also because he saw in advance the consequences of man’s mistakes and sins. Christ, therefore, was not pained for the wreath of his Father for man. Quite the opposite, the state of our friends petrified sin, their future, their incurability made him cry. It was like the pain he felt for Jerusalem, or the pain at the grave of Lazarus. (Luke 19:41; John 11:33) All that he experienced surrounding him in the world ruled by Satan caused him constant suffering. Love and faith people had towards him could relieve this pain only in some cases. This, naturally, did not mean that he was continuously morose, or pessimistic. His community with his Father was a constant source of joy. However, it is doubtless that he could not free himself from all the suffering and untruthfulness that he experienced in the world: In all their affliction he was afflicted. (Isaiah 63:9)
Advice and Encouragement
Jonathan’s role was not only to be passive and gloomy. His role was to give advice and encourage David.
- Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. (Proverbs 27:9)
- And he said unto him, God forbid; thou shalt not die. Behold, my father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? It is not so. (1Samuel 20:2)
I do not know if you see the deep despair, more than that, fear of death behind the words, under the influence of which Jonathan was to break David free. Jonathan had to encourage David so that he would not give up the fight, even if he reflected on the future so tragic for him by words of prophecy: You will not die…He spoke the words of life, probably suspecting, even knowing that David should only live if Saul died.
These staggering sentences to some extent shed light on the love of God for us. He found a way to tell people: You will not die, I will die for you in my beloved Son.
- Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.’ (Job 33:24) This ransom is non other that the life of Jesus!
Jonathan gave strength to his despaired friend through his ingenuity. He also technically helped David in his flight:
- And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.And, behold, I will send a lad, saying. Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the Lord liveth. But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the Lord hath sent thee away. And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.(1Samuel 20:19:00-23)
If we can say about Jonathan that he gave good advice to his friend David that helped save him from death, then it is even truer for Jesus who the prophecy names: advisor. In the Book of Proverbs Jesus presents himself as the source of wisdom.
- For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
- The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.(Isaiah 50:4)
- Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment. That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures. (Proverbs 8:14.20-21.)
We can say about Jesus that he had kindness on his lips all the time, not one of his words were uttered needlessly or were useless, cruel or hurting. His aim was to, and it is literary true, strengthen those with his words who got tired in their sin, those who were crippled. Just think about it, the words he uttered were just as powerful as those that created the universe. When he said: Stand up and walk! The person the words were said to jumped up. When Jesus said: Be quiet! Then storm calmed at the seas. When Jesus said: Come out of that man! Then the demon was forced to leave. There were, and there are not even today, any obstacles that remained there after Jesus uttered words. His words brought healing, freedom, peace and unspeakable joy to ever place where he found hearts of believers:
- The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Now, we have arrived at one of the last moments in the story of David and Jonathan. They said good bye to each other at their last meeting noted, and they once again reinforced their alliance:
- And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. ‘And Jonathan said to David: Go in peace, for as much as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city. (1Samuel 20:41-42)
Afterwards, they saw one another alive only one more time. David’s song of lament he wrote after hearing the fall of three sons of Saul is extremely gripping and illuminating. There is no trace of joy in the song, even though with the death of the sons his flight from the deranged king was over. David sang about his true sadness, his deep pain, about the great accomplishments and the merits of his best friend:
- The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!… From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. … I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished! and the weapons of war perished! (2Samuel 1:19-27)
As we have seen, after these events David could express his appreciation and commitment for Jonathan towards Mephibosheth.
Jonathan could not say good bye to the best friend with real joyful words. Jesus, however, could do so. Before his resurrection, he could encourage people with his return. On the other hand, he assured his disciples of his eternal presence, even after his going to heaven:
- Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
The last words he said before raised to heaven were the following: … I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. (Matthew 28:20) We have a heavenly friend, thus, who would never want to leave us, as long as we do not make him leave. He remains with us through his soul; he is with us when we are in pain, peace and war, in temptation and victory, too!
At All times
If, therefore we review Jonathan’s life, we can see that he, on his part, carried out the declaration of Solomon perfectly: he loved David at all times, not only during that short period of time when Saul respected him, but during the times when Saul’s rage was worsening. Jonathan loved David both in his fortune and misfortune, he was not jealous of David’s success, unlike his own father; he looked at his friend impartially and with respect. At the same time, however, this friendship was to last for only a restricted period of time, until the victory over Saul, for 10-15 years. Jonathan did not live up to the moment when his friend took the throne of Israel. His patronage that meant bodily and spiritual guard was primarily to defend David from the wreath of his father. As a ‘royal friend’, he fulfilled his mission entirely.
Jesus Christ, the evangelist wrote: having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. (John 13:1) This unto the end however, comprises a lot longer frame of time – on man’s part – and a lot more extreme spiritual state than in the case of Jonathan. It is not restricted to the life of Jesus on Earth, since He was the divine envoy of the eternal love of the Father; this is what he mediated towards man. And he did not only turn towards his friend during the times of misery, in other words, in the history of sin, but did it above those days: during the months of eternity. On the other hand, Christ’s love achieved its full purpose in a lot harsher circumstances. David was found worthy of confidence through his noble character, his reliability. Man, on the other hand, in the state of sin, in misery, was not the least worthy of confidence. Man had no trust in his heart, but had wreath, doubt and hatred that ruled man’s heart concerning God and His son. Even the disciples, who loved Him, betrayed him. They were disappointed in Him, were indignated by Him. They were full of doubt, they were jealous. They often fought when Jesus was around. Finally, they wounded him and sent him to his death, just as the prophet Zachary foresaw it. Jesus, nevertheless, remained loyal to them even in this state of their mind; his love is a flag over us, until the end. (Isaiah 2:4)
Born as a sibling
Jonathan gave himself the shepherd boy as a new brother, before Saul, although with an ulterior motive, made him his brother-in-law, thus making him part of the royal family. He supported David by all means and by all his power, both physically and spiritually, on the path to the throne, despite the fact that it meant his loosing the throne. He shared with David all he had, all the means the son of the king had, even though he did not receive anything in return except honest affection and promises.
How did our brother become the Son of God, who is sitting on the right hand of the Father?
- But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ (Gal 4:4-5)
The one born of a woman, with all the negative consequences of a hereditary disease of genetics-morals, by the words of Paul: Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his. Thus, he dressed in human nature that hopelessly broke from the source of life. This, in itself, however, would not have helped them, as they needed more:
- For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder (…) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.’ (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Thus, he maintained his divine personality, and as a second Adam, he was able to remain strong, someone who was worthy of being the one through whom the throne of David could exist for ever!
He consciously undertook the task of becoming our brother to the end, he talked about himself as such several times: For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.(Matthew 18:11) He sealed this brotherhood, on one hand by his death: he nailed the rotten life of man on the cross. On the other hand, he sealed this brotherhood by his resurrection: he was not the same as the man who came to Earth from God, but was the perfect Man who returned to heaven and sat down by the right hand of his Father. We can say that there is another person in the universe, in addition to God, who is in such a communion with Jesus except for man.
These facts, naturally, are so important in terms of our being:
- Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God. (1 John 3:1)
It is not solely true that Jesus became the son of man. Man became the Son of God in Jesus. Now we share his death, his resurrection and his celestial kingdom:
- But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
The seed of Abraham, the eternal Son is ours, and we are His; hiding in Him, we are the Only Child of the Father. Just as David found a real friend in Jonathan, every person, irrespectively of time and number, received a real friend in the Only Child of God, Jesus, in whom complete wholeness dwells, who is both our brother, our ally, beloved companion, interceding pontifical and our advisor at all times. We should know that we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (1John 3:2)
1 Don Pio Rossi: Ethical Feast = Courtly Art sin Italy
2 White: Patriarchs and Prophets, Advent P., 1993. – 603.p.