Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Friend After Your Own Heart

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, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. I Samuel 18:1-5

Friendship is a powerful need in our lives. How many of you have a friend? Almost everyone would raise his hand. So you know the satisfaction of having someone you can share with and count on. In fact, a person without friends is a person in utter poverty... even if that individual has all the wealth in the world.

A year or so ago, Hollywood released a film called The Aviator. Does anyone know who that movie was about? That’s right, Howard Hughes. When he died, Hughes was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived - worth approximately 2.5 billion dollars. He owned a private fleet of jets, hotels and casinos. He had everything a man could possibly desire… except close friends or relatives who knew him and cared about him.

When asked to claim his body, his nearest relative, a distant cousin, exclaimed: "Is this Mr. Hughes?"

When he died, not a single acquaintance or relative mourned his death. The only honor he received was a moment of silence in his Las Vegas casinos. Time magazine put it this way: "Howard Hughes’ death was commemorated in Las Vegas by a minute of silence. Casinos fell silent. Housewives stood uncomfortable clutching their paper cups full of coins at the slot machines, the blackjack games paused, and at the crap tables the stickmen cradled his dice in the crook of their wooden wands. Then a pit boss looked at his watch, leaned forward and whispered: "O.K., roll the dice. He’s had his minute." (Time, Dec. 13, 1976)

Let me repeat: People without friends are people who live in utter poverty.

For most people, friendship is one of their deepest needs and desires.

Now, Scripture tells us that David was a man after God’s own heart.
"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4
As you might imagine, since David was a man after God’s own heart - a man who delighted in the LORD – God supplied him with a close companion – a real friend. A friend named Jonathan. And this was not just any friend… this was a son of the king.

This friendship with Jonathan was so powerful and so true, that it has been practically a Biblical standard of friendship ever since.

At this point in our story, David is a very fortunate young man.
  • Not only has he has just killed Goliath - the champion of the Philistines – and thus become the beloved hero of the people…
  • David has also been the personal servant of King Saul. Before the incident with Goliath, David had already been a regular visitor to the King’s palace.
  • Saul had been plagued by an evil Spirit and only the singing of David could alleviate his torment. But now that David has slain the giant, Saul makes David a permanent part of his family.
  • And… not only is David a favorite of the people, and of the King… but God Himself has honored David by selected him to be the next king of Israel.
So David is a very fortunate young man… but life is about to get very uncomfortable for this young shepherd boy.

For example… let’s read the next few verses in this chapter -
And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants. And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick. And the women answered one another as they played, and said, "Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, "They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?" And Saul eyed David from that day and forward. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand. And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, "I will smite David even to the wall with it." And David avoided out of his presence twice. I Samuel 18: 5-11
You see, King Saul became jealous over David’s popularity, and a number of times Saul attempted to kill young David. Eventually, David needed to flee for his life, but even then, Saul pursued him into the wilderness to destroy him.

David had been a very blessed man, but he soon came to understand that there are times when life gets hard… things go wrong… experiences are harsh. As one person put it: We need "someone who will walk in when the rest of the world walks out." And that’s why God gave David a friend like Jonathan.

We’re given a very detailed description of what kind of friend Jonathan was to David. And I believe that this is no coincidence. I believe God gives us this description for a purpose.
So, let’s examine the "details" of what made Jonathan’s friendship so powerful:

  1. This friendship started in Jonathan’s heart.
    After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 1 Samuel 18:1
  2. Jonathan made a commitment to David.
    And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 1 Samuel 18:3
  3. Jonathan was willing to share whatever he owned with David.
    Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. 1 Samuel 18:4
I believe this is the kind of friendship God wants us to have with each other.

When Jesus died on the cross, He did so to give us forgiveness of sins and a whole new life… but He also had another reason: Jesus came and died upon the cross to create something. He came to create "the church." We (the church) are His bride whom He is preparing for the great Wedding Banquet.

I believe that the friendship that Jonathan displayed toward David is the same kind of friendship we should have for one another in the church.

When God created the church, His intention was to create an atmosphere of friendship that was like what Jonathan modeled.

God’s church is to be a group of saved people who have been changed in their hearts, so that they could learn to love others. People who are vicious and mean spirited could never live together in the same building… that is, unless God changed their hearts. God saved us. He changed us. And He showed us how to love each other. As John wrote: We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) God changed our hearts so that we could be friends with each other. That’s why God created His church.

God created His church for us so that we could b committed to each other. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us that we should "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another— and all the more as you see the Day approaching."

What’s that mean? It means that God wants us to be committed to each other. It means that God wants us to work at making each other successful.

God wants us to think of ways...
  • ...to help each other learn how to love.
  • ...to help each other find good deeds that we can do.
  • ...to encourage one another.
God wants us to think this way… not just within these four walls, but also when we are working and dealing with each other throughout the week.

In the Gospel of John we read about Peter sitting by a fire on the shores of the sea of Galilee, talking with Jesus. They’d just got done eating breakfast together when Jesus looked Peter in the eye and said:

"Simon, son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "FEED MY LAMBS."

Again Jesus said, "Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "TAKE CARE OF MY SHEEP."

The third time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "FEED MY SHEEP."

If we love Jesus… we will take care of each other… look out for each other.

We’ll love each other, because that is the way to show that we love Him.

Lastly, God created His church for us so that we might be there as friends to share with each other. In Galatians 6:9-10 Paul tells us "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."

That’s what Paul is talking about. We should do good to all people, but especially to those who are part of our family.

Here you are, Darrell, telling us that God expects us to be friends to each other. But… I want my own friend. I want somebody who’ll always be there for me. I want someone who’ll do good things for me, someone who will watch my back and protect and listen to me. I want someone who will always be there for me!

Well, God has supplied you with that kind of a friend. He’s supplied you with Someone who’ll always be there for you, Someone who will never leave you, Someone who will never forsake you.

Remember how I told you that God loved David so much that he didn’t give just any old friend? God gave David the son of the King for his friend. Likewise, God didn’t give you just any old friend. We have the Son of the King - Jesus - as our friend.

Proverbs 18:24 speaks of Him as "a friend that sticks closer than a brother."

"The Furnace Keeper"

One of the ancient kings of Persia loved to mingle with his people in disguise. Once, dressed as a poor man, he descended the long flight of stairs, dark and damp to the tiny cellar where the fireman, seated on ashes, was tending the furnace.. The king sat down beside him and began to talk. At meal time the fireman produced some coarse black bread and a jug of water and they ate and drank. The king went away but returned again and again for his heart was filled with sympathy for the lonely man. They became very good friends as time passed.

At last the king thought, "I’ll tell him who I am, and see what gift he will ask."

So he did, but the fireman didn’t ask for a thing.

The king was astonished and said, "Don’t you realize that I can give you anything—a city, a throne?"

The man gently replied, "I understand, your Majesty. You have already given the greatest gift a man could receive. You left your palace to sit with me here in this dark and lonely place. You could give nothing more precious. You have given yourself and that is far more than I could ever deserve."
You know, the very mention of Jesus as our friend has the power to calm our souls and give us the comfort we need in our lives… even if we’re not Christians.

Syndicated columnist Deborah Mathis wrote about a day in her life in the nation’s capital when she was passing through Union Station. The first thing stamped on her memory was the noisy hubbub of sounds. The public address announcer calling out arrivals and departures. Scores of pagers, walkie-talkies, and cell phones crying out for someone’s attention. She could hear horns honking, machines clinking out change, and babies crying. There were voices from every direction. A nervous security guard yelled at a man about to enter a forbidden area. Three women stood up from their bench in order to press the points of their squabble with more emphasis. The man in line in front of her was pacing in tiny, agitated steps.

Then she heard someone singing.

"What a friend we have in Jesus, All our sins and griefs to bear; What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer."

She wrote there was a perceptible change in the cacophonous crowd.

"O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer."

The quarreling women quit their arguing and quietly took their seats. Tense shoulders seemed to relax.

As the lone voice sang the remaining verses of from the song Mathis realized she was singing along now. So were the three women who had been bickering. And several more.

"Nice, huh?" offered the man who had been pacing his tiny, tight circle in front of her. "I don’t even believe in Jesus, but that’s nice."

Who is your friend?

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