This week, I am preaching in the lament of David over the fallen King Saul and his son, Jonathan. David and Jonathan were best friends! They were brought together at a tough time in the history of their nation. David was a young shepherd taking care of his father’s flocks, while Jonathan was the crown prince of Israel: the son of the tall and powerful King Saul.
David came to the battlefield to visit his older brothers, and through a divine act of providence, he ended up killing the giant Goliath and turning the enemy Philistines on their heels. It was through this valiant deed of power from the hand of God, that Jonathan and David connected in friendship.
David was anointed by the prophet Samuel as the next king, skipping over Jonathan and Jonathan accepted this as the will of the Almighty. He did what is rarely done by any human, giving up his own power and authority in exchange for the will of God. He made a covenant with David that when David became king, he would stand on David’s side with him.
But this was a promise he could not make good on. According to 1 Samuel 31, Saul and Jonathan died on the same day in the same battle against the Philistines, years after the death of Goliath.
David and Jonathan had a relationship that has been read back through the lens of our modern culture in ways that are distasteful and unhelpful. When David says in 2 Samuel 1:26, “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women”, David was conveying something in lament that very few men today can convey. They fought together in battle. They dealt with Jonathan’s progressively unhinging father together. They made a covenant to work together in a new administration with David as King. They shared weapons together. And they honored and loved God together.
This text should provide no blush-factor unless it is the shame that men should feel at their lack of ability to forge deep and abiding camaraderie with other men. As a culture that has progressively forgotten what it means to be male, one of the first things that has been marginalized is the ability of men to connect at the level of heart and love. Sure, we might love Michigan football together. We might love woodworking, Jeeps, or camping . . . But I wonder how many guys have a single guy that they could write the words of David in 2 Samuel 1:26 over? C.S. Lewis spoke of the brotherly love and camaraderie he experienced among the Inklings as one of the deepest and most cherished loves he experienced in his life. There is something that calls to my heart as I consider a group of men at the pub discussing philosophy, literature, and theology over a pipe and a pint.
As I ramble my way to a close on this blog post, I am convicted to invest more in friendships. David writes a lament for the loss of a deep friendship with Jonathan. He is not afraid to declare his distress over the loss of a man he loved. And even at the risk of being misunderstood (and having read a lot on this passage I can confirm that he has been very misunderstood), David highlights for all men that it is a good thing to have a close relationship with other dudes.
I close this blog with one question that I would love to hear answered . . . Is it just me, or is friendship like this among men a lost art?