As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.4 And Jonathan 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 18:1-5
Jonathan, much like David in his zeal, courage, and diligence, does not fear or covet the brilliance and charm of the one who will indeed shine in his stead. Jonathan isn’t looking out for number one. He’s seen enough falseness in his father to know that when someone true comes along, it may be only once in a lifetime. Instead of fearing David’s God-given greatness or being jealous of his God-given victory, Jonathan loves David as himself.
Consider what this love looks like.
“…Jonathan loved him as his own soul…”
Jonathan must have thought of David as highly as he thought of himself. If David won, Jonathan felt victorious. If David grieved, Jonathan felt his own soul mourn. If David was angry, Jonathan was ready to fight. To love a friend this way is to, not only know how they feel, but to actually feel what they feel.
“…Then Jonathan made a covenant with David…”
There was a solemn, binding promise involved in this relationship. No matter what happened, Jonathan had vowed to continue with David, as much as it depended on him. He wasn’t afraid of the commitment or sacrifices involved because his love for his friend was far more important to him than anything this world had to offer.
“…And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David…”
Doubtless, all David had previously was his shepherd garb. Dirty, smelly, ragged burlap. But Jonathan was a prince! He literally took the robe off his back and clothed David. Do you think he was worried about whether or not David might rule in his stead? He knew the heart and character of this boy. I think he wanted him to.
“…and his armor…”
Jonathan offered David protection. When David had tried Saul’s armor, it was far too big and heavy. But it’s likely Jonathan’s was a perfect fit. This act doubtless left Jonathan exposed. A true friend will protect at all personal costs.
“…and even his sword and his bow and his belt…”
Lastly, Jonathan gave David his weapons, which likely left him defenseless. Jonathan isn’t afraid, though, because he trusts his friend to use what he has been given.
Jonathan wanted nothing more than to see David succeed. He knew firsthand what David was made of, and it didn’t make him insecure. It didn’t intimidate him or make him jealous. David’s honest, courageous disposition gave Jonathan hope where his father’s dishonest cowardice had disgusted and discouraged him.
“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.”
And David won. He won, he won, and he won some more. With a friend like this behind him, how could he lose?
He couldn’t, and we can’t. We have a friend like Jonathan, too. We have a friend who isn’t afraid of our best qualities. We have a friend who has abased himself for our good. One who knows not just how we feel, but exactly what and why. Yes, our friend has made a solemn, binding promise to continue on with us no matter what. He fears neither commitment nor sacrifice and he loves us more than anything in the world. He’s given us new clothing, fitting protection, and new weapons of war. That friend is Jesus and we are his hope in the world today.
We can’t lose. Let’s go win.