Thursday, February 20, 2014
Today’s Topic: True Friends
Today’s Text: 1 Samuel 13:3-4 (ESV) 3 Jonathan defeated the garrison of the Philistines that was at Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 And all Israel heard it said that Saul had defeated the garrison of the Philistines…
Last night I had the privilege of being the speaker at AWANA Council Time for the 3rd through 5th graders. I started by asking the students who they thought was my favorite Bible Character. I called on one of many children that had raised their hand and after hearing his response I clarified the question to state “Other than Jesus, who is my favorite Bible character.”
After two dozen incorrect guesses, I finally revealed the answer. The life of Jonathan, King Saul’s son and King David’s best friend, has always deeply touched my heart with its principles of friendship and love. Two of the three principles of a good friend I shared last night are still on my mind this morning.
As Saul’s son, Jonathan was next in line for the throne of Israel. He became a mighty warrior, but even in his military success he was learning an important principle of friendship and success – do your best without concern for who gets the credit. Jonathan had just won an incredible battle with only a few men, and yet his dad the King took all the credit.
Former United States President John F. Kennedy said, “There’s no limit to what a man can accomplish if he doesn’t care who gets the credit.” Too many friendships are ruined by a self-exalting competitive spirit that seeks honor and recognition for everything done. This was not Jonathan’s way, as we will see.
Through the course of his reign, Saul became disobedient to God and his Kingdom was taken from him. Without Saul’s knowledge, David was anointed as the next King of Israel.
Then came the day of David’s victory over Goliath, the Philistine warrior. After the battle, Saul took David into his household and made him his chief warrior. David was unprepared for being a military leader, but God had ordained a plan. When Saul was finished talking to David, the Bible says that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1)
This is utterly amazing. Jonathan had every right to be angry with his father for messing up his future. His chance to be King was gone. GONE! And now, standing in front of him, was the young man who would be king; the one who would get all the honor and recognition that could have been his. OUCH!
Yet notice the Spirit of God in Jonathan’s heart. He chooses to love David rather than hate him. He chooses to put action to his love and stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 And David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him, so that Saul set him over the men of war. And this was good in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants. (1 Samuel 18:4-5). David took the very position that Jonathan had held, and Jonathan helped him get it.
Jonathan showed no anger toward the person who took his job and his title. Instead, Jonathan came along side David and assisted his success. That’s what true friends do.
After I was done speaking last night, one of the AWANA Commanders came forward to give the students the evening’s results of the ongoing missionary offering contest. One of the teams had taken a huge lead over the other. He asked the team that was behind to cheer for the team that was ahead. The response was not good. I actually heard booing. I guess I need to tell the story over again. But before I do, I’d better make sure I’m cheering others who are getting ahead of me, especially those times when I think I deserve to get ahead.