1 Samuel 23:14–18
14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.
15 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. 16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” 18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.
What a friend Jonathan was! No pettiness, no envy, no jealousy. Remember, as Saul’s son, Jonathan would have been the heir apparent. He might have wanted the praise of the people, yet here was this kid from the hills of Bethlehem garnering all of it. Still, Jonathan stood in defense of his friend against his own father, who was ready to take David’s life. This is what we might call theology at its most basic level. This is putting shoe leather to your belief, to your faith. He stood in his defense because he was his friend. Here we are again—back to their great friendship.
Friends give each other complete freedom to be themselves. When you’ve got a friend that close, that knitted to your own soul, you don’t have to explain why you do what you do. You just do it, and your friend understands.
When your heart is broken, you can bleed all over a friend like this, and he won’t be offended. He won’t confront you in your misery or quote three Bible verses, then tell you to straighten up.
When your good friend is hurting, let him hurt. If she feels like weeping, let her weep. If a good friend needs to complain, listen. An intimate friend doesn’t bail; he’s right there with you. You can be yourself, no matter what that self looks like.
True friends are a constant source of encouragement. “Now David became aware that Saul had come out to seek his life while David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. And Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David at Horesh, and encouraged him in God” (1 Samuel 23:15–16).
Think of that. There was a hit man after David, and his name was Saul (Jonathan’s father!). David was out in the wilderness, and at any moment, behind any bush or rock or hill, Saul and his men might have been lurking in the shadows, waiting to strike him down. The murderous hatred of Saul haunted David’s life.
And what does the son of this hit man do? He encourages his friend. Wow! That’s the kind of friend to have. He sees David at the lowest moment of his life, frightened, beleaguered, stumbling through the wilderness, and he brings him encouragement. “I understand how that feels. You have every right to have those feelings. There’ll be a brighter day some day, but right now I’m here with you, no matter what.”
A friend gives you freedom to be yourself, no matter what that self looks like.
— Charles R. Swindoll