This lesson focuses on David’s relationships with King Saul and his children, Jonathan and Michal. After the victorious battle with the Philistines, the women of the kingdom are heard proclaiming, “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). David’s defeat of Goliath has gone viral, raising his profile to celebrity status. This causes Saul to essentially lose his mind with jealousy. Saul nourishes his jealousy and hatred toward homicidal proportions.
Jonathan, however, sees David as a kindred. They immediately accept each other’s friend request. Declarations of affinity and vows of loyalty are made. Their loyalty is tested as Saul’s hatred runs parallel to Jonathan’s love. As Saul plots to kill David, Jonathan must choose between his allegiance to his father and his devotion to his friend.
Jonathan isn’t the only one of Saul’s children to love David. His daughter, Michal, is also smitten with the young hero. Surprisingly, Saul arranges for her to marry David. The marital bliss is short, Saul is already plotting to kill his new son-in-law. Learning of the assassination plot, Michal demonstrates tremendous courage by convincing David to flee immediately and helps him escape out the window. She then pulls a Ferris Bueller (or perhaps Bueller pulled a Michal) by creating a figure out of an idol and goat hair in David’s bed and tells her father that David’s ill and resting. Saul is not so easily deceived.
Concerned for his bosom buddy, Jonathan set’s out to find David. Upon their reunion, the bromance continues with words of affirmation and vows of friendship (ala Anne and Diana). They hatch a plan to confirm Saul’s murderous intentions towards David. Jonathan returns to his father, and David stays in hiding. Upon receiving confirmation, Jonathan sends the agreed upon – yes, my dad really does want to kill you, so run far away – message to David. David flees. Saul pursues with three thousand men.
Eventually, Saul enters a cave to relieve himself. Fortuitously, David and company are hiding in the same cave! David’s men beseech him to take Saul down. Instead, David chooses extreme disrespect. He sneaks upon Saul and cuts off a piece of his robe. Later, David feels guilty. “David’s heart smote him“ (1 Sam. 24:5). He tells his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord” (1 Sam. 24:6). Like Jonathan, David is a man of integrity. When Saul goes low, David goes high.
When Saul and David finally have their standoff, David tells Saul what transpired in the cave and shows him the fabric from his robe and says, “…that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it” (1 Sam. 24:11). Saul is overcome with David’s righteousness and weeps. He is in awe of David’s goodness in the face of his own evil deeds. Saul knows that David will be king and establish the kingdom of Israel. He asks one thing of David – to not eradicate his genealogical line from the Earth. David agrees, and Saul goes home.
Though David and Jonathan’s narrative reads like the plot of the latest binge-worthy Netflix original, it also has some of the most beautiful and moving declarations of friendship ever written:
“And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam. 18:1).
“…Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David…” (1 Sam. 19:2).
“And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.” (1 Sam. 20:23).
“…they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded. And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.” (1 Sam. 20:41-42).
David and Jonathan’s hearts were knitted together. I love this way of describing friendship and am inspired by the nature of their relationship. It is full of loyalty, righteousness, generosity, declarations of affinity, promises, trust and love. I have people in my life whose hearts have been knitted to mine. I reached out to some of my dearest girlfriends (This is the Mormon Women Project, after all. My best guyfriends will understand) to share what they believe are the essential characteristics of a true friend.
2018 marks the 20th anniversary of my friendship with Laura G. She has been with me through some of the most painful and joyous moments of my life. When my marriage was falling apart, and I was confronted with the magnitude of my then husband’s infidelities, she sat on the phone with me and wept. In that moment, our souls were knitted together making us sisters.
“Trust. Honesty. Unconditional love. Understanding. Self-confidence. Loyalty.
I think it’s important to have a balanced/ well-rounded friendship – the things that you’re good at, I’m not so good at. And the things I’m good at, you may not be so good at.
Dedication. Dedication is huge. Just being there for each other. Knowing what the other needs. Loyalty. No judgement. You need to not feel judgement from your friends. If you feel judged by your friends, they’re probably not your friends.”
Ang and I are best-friend-cousins. In the 80s, when we lived in different states, we’d record messages on cassette tapes and mail them back and forth. Now, we live in different different states and Marco Polo, frequently. Angela has a gift for empathy and insight. She’s the friend who can tell me the things I need to hear, but don’t want to hear. She is also one of my favorite people to discourse with, particularly about human behavior, pop culture and the gospel.
“I think being a good friend is a balance of being a listener and meeting someone where they are at and helping them feel belonging. Not only letting me be myself but accepting me as I am. Loving me where I’m at. Listening to who I am and what I think without needing to change me or solve my problems. And balancing that with also being willing to problem solve with me, when I ask for help. It’s because of those times that they didn’t judge me and were there for me, that I would go to them to ask for help and get advice. Loyalty is a big one. Integrity with their loyalty. I know that though I might annoy them sometimes, or I might say things that elicit an eye roll, they really don’t think ill of me or are not going to gossip about me. And even though there are times when they may be like – come on, Angela, or that’s kind of ridiculous that she thinks that, or she’s in her stuff again – the core foundation is just a real loyalty, integrity and support I can trust. And also, the ability to critically think together and bounce ideas off each other. Someone to go to with your questions and your doubts.”
Katie is one of my favorite collaborators in the whole world. She’s creative, curious, supportive, risk-taking, passionate and one of the best “yes and-ers” you’ll ever meet. I love discussing all of the things they say you shouldn’t discuss with her – politics, religion, social justice, family, etc. We have differing political and religious affiliations, but share a deep desire to make our corner of the world a better place. Our friendship has made me a better friend and human.
“Someone who celebrates with you in joy and shares your sorrows when you mourn or struggle. Someone who allows you space when you need it, and rejoices when you return. Someone who helps you come back to yourself, reminding you who you are, and who shifts with you as that self grows and expands. Someone who is on your team, your cheerleader.”
Laura H. is my oldest, dearest friend – age wise. There’s a 25 year age difference between us. We’ve also been friends for nearly two decades. Laura H. helps me not take myself to seriously and to take myself more seriously when I’m not. When I had the crazy idea to quit my job, break up with my boyfriend and move across the country to live the life I’d only imagined was possible, she was my biggest advocate. She kept the faith when I faltered. And when I decided to try a new coaching business, she was my first client. She believes in me, and I love her for that.
“My immediate response was friends are there no matter how long they have been apart. It’s more than that – for me, there are a small handful of people that I consider my good friends and within that there are three that I know in my heart I could call anytime for anything, and I would have the support, love and honesty that would be in my best interest. Friends are people who show up when you’re in need and stand beside you to help you gain strength and clarity. Friends share intimate moments of each other’s’ lives, often during some of the happiest, saddest and ugliest personal moments, and there is unconditional love and support. Friends have a way of appearing when you need them even when you are not aware. I love that friends often come together because of their love for a person.”
Kimalee is my longest friendship. We’ve been friends since I was 13 years old. She’s the friend that I may not speak to for a long time – even years, but I know loves me and will be there when I need her. Kimalee calls this a forever friend. She’s like a mother bear in her loyalty. She’s also a lot of fun and is quick to laugh. She’s one of my favorite people to laugh with.
“Empathy. Someone who sincerely feels what you are feeling and shares those emotions.
Humor. Someone who laughs with you, who makes you laugh, and sometimes laughs at you.
Trustworthy. Someone you can confide in. A walking vault of all your innermost secrets.
Loyal. Someone who has your back. Always.
Timeless. Someone who you can go for periods of time not seeing or talking to but pick up right where left off when you see them again.
Just. Someone who doesn’t judge you for being you, but lets you know when your off track and helps you get back on the right path.
Faithful. A true friend makes it easier for you to follow Christ.
Most of all what characteristics I think make a good friend is someone in your life that’s makes you a better you. Someone who knows what you need, even when you don’t. I am always stretching to make my myself a better person. A good friend has qualities that I admire that help me to not only see, but reach my potential. Someone who you can reciprocate those qualities with, and it is appreciated. And they let you know you are appreciated. They know you. I mean really know you. What you would say, how you would react, what flavor you like best. They enjoy the same activities you do. They introduce you to new and different adventures. They don’t always agree with you but respect your opinion. They make you feel like you are enough. They let you serve them. They show up when you are depressed and open your curtains to let the sunshine in. They sweep your floor. They buy you something just because it reminds them of you. They make you a priority. They care about things they don’t have an interest in just because you have that interest. They like your Facebook posts. They answer the phone and they listen. They have the best hugs. They support you in your activities. They change their plans to benefit the people around them. They help you move. They make your favorite food when they know you are coming over and even keep the ingredients on hand just in case. They know they don’t need to knock. They don’t see your size. They include you. They forgive. They answer your prayers to Heavenly Father.”
Kellie is also a friend who has transcended into sisterhood. She is fierce in your loyalty and love. She has championed me in some of my craziest ideas and loved me in some of my darkest moments. She is generous and kind. I’ve worked hard to earn her trust and trust her completely. She articulates her appreciation and love for our friendship readily. And she’s the bitmoji queen.
“Vulnerability.” [mic drop]
True friendship is a vulnerable act. In order to connect in deep and meaningful ways, we have to allow ourselves to be fully seen by another. We have to trust. We have to love. It is a lot of work, which requires investments of time, attention, emotions, intellect and spirit. These women are some of my truest friends. They give me space to figure out my life. They know I’m going to make mistakes and have crazy ideas. They go on adventures with me. They laugh and cry with me. They tell me the truth with love and empathy. With every one of these acts, my heart delights in them and my soul is knitted to each of there’s.