“And Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.” (1 Sam. 18:3-4)
Jonathan is one of the greatest warriors in the history of mankind. In one of the most heroic “Band of Brothers” stories in the Bible, Jonathan and his armor bearer had the courage to attack an entire Philistine army by themselves! Even Hollywood never portrays an “overwhelming odds” story of that magnitude.
But Jonathan had the faith and courage to do whatever God asked of him, because he knew that God was with him: “Perhaps the Lord will help us [in this battle], for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few.” (1 Sam. 14:6) The Bible tells the story of how Jonathan and his armor bearer attacked and killed the Philistines “right and left,” about 20 in all spread over about half an acre, before God sent an earthquake to scatter the rest of the enemy army. Wow – what a great story of faith, courage, and honor! So Jonathan was no wimp! He was a mighty warrior for God.
But Jonathan is best known for his incredible loyalty and love as a friend and brother to David. When Jonathan met David, “there was an immediate bond of love between them” (1 Sam. 18:1). But this was not an obvious friendship – these guys grew up on two different sides of the track. Jonathan was a prince, a son of King Saul and the rightful heir to the throne. In great contrast, David was a shepherd boy. But Jonathan was humble enough to have a Christ-like lens for his friend David. Jonathan didn’t see a shepherd boy – he saw a future King!
Jonathan had the lens of humility to see that it was David’s anointing – not his own – to be the future King of Israel. So Jonathan sealed his commitment to David and called out and commissioned David to live out his anointed calling by bestowing kingly gifts – “his robe, tunic, sword, bow and belt.” (1 Sam. 18:4) “And Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend.” (1 Sam. 18:3) Jonathan then spent much of his life fighting for David’s true heritage – even against the will of his own father King Saul.
This Relationship is Astonishing
Instead of being a loyal friend, why wasn’t Jonathan jealous of David? After all, this was the man who would be king in his place. But without Jonathan’s friendship, David’s story and great legacy would not echo today.
It’s very rare to have such a friend as Jonathan. But even more important – how often do we desire to be a friend like Jonathan? Jonathan was willing to give up worldly glory; he was willing to be shamed by his father King Saul; and he was willing to risk his very life for the sake of his friend David. He was willing to be such a friend out of his obedience to God’s will, and he trusted God’s good intentions for his own life and legacy.
Jonathan is the epitome and model of a brother and friend, and (other than the story of Christ) it is his story, his humility, and his heroism that echoes more than any other in this Band of Brother’s Ministry.