What's In This Friendship?

Chaplain Barbara Embry
Citizens Baptist Medical Center

Friend - an endearing term used frequently to describe a special relationship between individuals who are intimately associated. 

A friend of mine shared a sermon with me that seriously opened my eyes in wonderment to the term.  There are characteristics that needed to be considered when we determine people to be our friend.

Let us consider a three point checklist on how to identify a true friend based on 1 Samuel 23:14-18

The story of Jonathan, David and Saul unfolds throughout this book.  We understand from past studies that Jesse had sons that were examined to become king after God spoke to Samuel and told him to go to Bethlehem and anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king because he had rejected Saul.

When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king of Israel, they mobilized all their forces to capture him. But David was told they were coming, so he went into the stronghold.  The stronghold was a rugged barren desert area between the hill country and the Dead Sea. It was full of ravines and caves and so it was a refuge for David.

Saul had a son named Jonathan, and through all of the turmoil David and Jonathan had become friends; covenant friends.  They vowed to be friends! 

There may not be a protocol for friends but there are principles and protocol for true friends! 


“Jonathan went to find David…” (v. 16)

He didn’t say, “well I’m going to pray for you or I’ll be thinking about you!”  He shared in David’s situation.  He left the palace and went to the woods to his friend.  A true friend will not only pray but he will show up.


“…and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” (v. 16)

Jonathan didn’t show up like Job’s friends talking about you shouldn’t have done this or that; people already know that.  We need to show up like Jonathan did.  The Bible said he strengthened his hand in God. Jonathan reminded David of God’s promises to him and encouraged him. 


“…and he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you.  You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.  Even my father Saul knows that.” (v. 17)

Jonathan had right to the throne because he was the king’s son. However, he understood the work of God and that David was anointed by God to be king.  He did not become envious over David’s elevation and promotion, but declared he would be with him.  A true friend does not envy you.

Scripture reminds us of our friendship with God: “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of His Son while we were still His enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of His Son.  So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” (Romans 5:10-11)

It was said that Joseph Scriven watched in shock as the body of his fiancée’ was pulled from the lake. Their wedding had been planned or the next day.  At the age of 25, he packed his bags and headed for new life in America, leaving his mom behind in Dublin, Ireland.  Some ten years later in 1855, he had word that his mother faced a crisis and he wrote a poem and sent it to her, What a Friend We Have in Jesus.  His mother gave a copy to a friend who had it published anonymously and it quickly became a popular hymn.  Meanwhile, Joseph fell in love again, but tragedy struck again when his bride Eliza Catherine Roche, contracted tuberculosis and died in 1860 before their wedding could take place. 

Joseph lived the rest of his life engaged in ministry and charity work.  Shortly before his death, the fact that he was poetic was made known.  A neighbor asked about him composing the hymn and wanted to know if it were true that he authored it. His reply was, “The Lord and I did it between us.”

What an awesome friend we have in Jesus!  It is because of this friendship and the characteristics of it, that we offer ourselves as friends.

“A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for calling us friend.  Because You chose us as friends we choose to be friends with others around us.  Father, please bless my friend.  Amen.

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