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Women after God’s own heart


himself to David in long-term friendship because he recognised God in their situation, and the role he might play in David’s life. Jonathan’s response to the man who would take his place


on the throne was astounding. Unlike his father, Jonathan felt no jealousy or resentment, and made no attempt to get rid of him. Rather, he pledged his absolute support, and, not knowing that he would die before David was king, he anticipated the day when he would assume a lesser role as David’s second-in-command (23:17). Let’s pause and consider our own friendships. How were


they formed? How much of God working in and through them do we see in these relationships? Are these friendships more of an opportunity for us to get or to give – be that comfort, practical help, or even prestige? Is God prompting us to ‘be’ a friend to someone outside of our usual social circle? David must have felt fear. He was told that Saul was on his


way to kill him (23:7–11), that the inhabitants of the town in which he was hiding – men from his own tribe of Judah – were going to hand him over (v12), and then, when he fled, he had to keep moving from place to place as Saul’s men chased after him. Perhaps he even began to doubt that God was still with him or that Samuel’s anointing had actually meant anything. Jonathan evidently thought this too and, at risk to his own life, escaped from Saul’s camp to visit him, bringing


the warmth and comfort of compassion, and the faith- building truth of what God had promised for David’s life. Let’s pause again and consider this. Are we ever tempted


to offer a glib comment that everything will turn out fine, or snatch a Bible text to pass on that we hope might comfort someone or be fulfilled for them? And how often might we race into praying for a particular outcome for someone, without first asking, listening, and discerning what God wants us to pray for? Jonathan didn’t offer glib answers, false hopes, or twee


platitudes. He spoke discerned truth. “My father, Saul, will not lay a hand on you. You shall be king over Israel …” (1 Samuel 23:17). It was this that helped David renew his strength in God. Jonathan’s presence and declaration of God’s truth dispelled the fear, confusion, doubt, discouragement and hopelessness that David may have been feeling. We’ve spent more time learning from Jonathan than David


this month, with more to reflect on below, but Jonathan was a key, God-given part of David’s story, and ultimately, it was David’s faith and integrity that inspired Jonathan’s loyalty in the first place. Furthermore, this was by no means a one-sided friendship.


Years later, when Jonathan had been killed in battle and David had acceded to Israel’s throne, many would have expected him to banish, maim, or even kill Saul’s heirs, but David showed kindness to Jonathan’s son. Mephibosheth was crippled. At best he might survive


through begging; more likely, the new king would banish or kill him. Not David. Not the man who recognised the hand of God in the gift of friendship. David welcomed Mephibosheth to his home and table, then granted him land and servants to take care of him, promising he would not be harmed (2 Samuel 4:4; 9). Consider: How is the balance of give and take in your friendships? And how much of a friend are you to Jesus? “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14).


A friend at all times


We may covet such a friend as David had in Jonathan, but this story is as much about our being such a friend to others.


Be generous Jonathan was extremely generous with his gift of clothing and weaponry, but also with the time he gave, encouraging David when Saul began to show signs of violence (See 1 Samuel 20), and again when he visited David in exile. You may feel you have little or nothing to give. But you have yourself. Your listening ear. Your prayers. Your comforting embrace. Your companionship. Your time. What else can you offer your friends, and what may they need more of during difficult times? Consider: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38).


Go the extra mile Jonathan gave to David at a cost to himself. He risked losing his father’s favour and arousing a violent response. In fact, he took extreme risks with his secret visits – it wouldn’t have taken much for Saul to kill him, even if he were his own son (see 1 Samuel 14:24–45). Anyone can offer friendship when it is convenient, comfortable, or easy, but how willing and available are you to offer it at a cost? Consider: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:12–13).


Be more than ‘fair weather friends’ Many folk who have suffered periods of immense hardship testify that it’s during those times, “you really know who your friends are”. You cannot offer this quality of friendship to every friend or acquaintance that you have; it would drain you physically, emotionally and spiritually. But for a period, are you open to the hand of God beckoning you over to someone’s side to walk their journey with them? Consider: “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24).


Focus the attention on God Jonathan didn’t offer David solutions; he offered him God. Often we need to offer strength through practical and emotional support. Always we need to be able to empathise with someone, and try to see their situation as they do. But still, there is a place for offering our own strength of faith, to help raise the faith of others. How can you help someone to focus their hope in God, rather than a solution; to rely on God more than a relationship; to see God as bigger than their problem; to trust in God, even when the timing is unknown? Consider: “We best encourage not by being cuddly with people but by reminding them of the promises of God. Encouragement from God for the people of God comes from the Word of God” (Dale Ralph Davis). When and how might your presence with someone be more powerful than posting a Scripture in a card? Consider: “The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:13b–14).


Pray


Thank you, Lord, for my friends. Help me to support, encourage and help build up their faith, as Jonathan did for David. Amen.


womanalive October 2015 19


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