The Encouragement of a Friend

Have you ever been in a really difficult place, needing encouragement, and just hoping that someone could say or do the right thing to help you out?

In the book of 1 Samuel, David has been anointed by Samuel to follow up Saul as King of Israel and Saul is showing some extreme signs of jealousy and paranoia. Saul has been pursuing David and has tried to kill him multiple times. But David has formed a very special friendship with Saul’s son, Jonathan. Jonathan has helped David escape from his father and has made a covenant with David that he will protect him.

As David runs from Saul once again, he is discouraged. Imagine what he’s feeling as he waivers between trust in God, who anointed him, and fear of this disturbed king. And there in 1 Samuel 23, there is a verse that is fairly easy to pass right by without noticing. Verse 16 says, “And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God.”

As I was reading through the narrative the other day, I stopped on that verse to really consider what it was saying. Jonathan had everything to lose by David being the next king. Typically, Jonathan would have been next in line for the kingship, so Jonathan could easily have been filled with his own jealousy and rage against David, but he wasn’t.

Not only is Jonathan not full of jealousy and rage, but he reacts in the opposite way, he loves David. He protects him from his father. He makes an oath and covenant with him. And while David is discouraged and feeling low, Jonathan goes to his friend and helps him find strength in God. Jonathan did not wait for David to come to him, he knew what his friend needed. He was paying attention. He could tell that something was wrong AND he knew just what David needed.

Jonathan was a true friend. He didn’t try to assuage David and distract him from his problems. He didn’t offer him false promises and tell him to put his hope in fleeting things. He pointed him to the God who had anointed him, the One who had created him, and the One who had sustained him all along. What an incredible friend Jonathan was to David.

All of us might not realize how desperately we need friends like this. We need people who will come alongside us, listen to us, love on us, and give us words that will help us put things in perspective. We need people to point us to the place from where our trust and strength needs to come.

Not only do we need this kind of friend, but we need to be this kind of friend as well. How aware are we of the circumstances surrounding our friends? How aware are we of what they are going through? Do we pay attention? Are we willing to come alongside them, even when our interests lie elsewhere? Are we willing to turn aside our own needs to help out our friends?

Never underestimate the power of a friend and their encouragement. Never underestimate how valuable the encouragement that you can bring to a friend as well. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, you never know when you’ll be able to bring encouragement to someone who desperately needs it.

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