Key components of Jonathan and David’s friendship

Bonded Soul - Common Values and Experience

Jonathan and David were both dedicated to the same Lord and God.

  • (Jonathan) “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord.” — 1 Samuel 14:6
  • (David) “ . . . but I come to you in the name of the Lord Almighty.” — 1 Samuel 17:45

David and Jonathan instantly became “one in spirit” upon meeting each other. 

  • “There was an immediate bond of love.” — 1 Samuel 18:1

They made a covenant with each other.

  • “Show me this kindness as my sworn friend – for we made a covenant together before the Lord.” — 1 Samuel 20:8

A deep friendship like theirs shared mutual experiences (as warriors), mutual values (to serve and submit to the same Lord), mutual goals (after God’s heart) and mutual dreams (from a divine perspective).  They didn’t necessarily have to have identical goals and dreams in order to be close, but they were of the same God, serving the same God and pursuing the same God.

Love – Trust and Encouragement

True love often means putting another’s desires and needs above one's own. 

  • “And Jonathan made David reaffirm his vow of friendship again, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself.” — 1 Samuel 20:17

Jonathan put his friendship with David above his own relationship with his father, because Saul was no longer following the Lord.

  • ”May the Lord be with you as he used to be with my father.” — I Samuel 20:13.

Trust was vital in their relationship.

  • “I promise by the Lord, the God of Israel . . . may the Lord kill me if I don’t warn you so you can escape and live.” — 1 Samuel 12, 13

A deep, trusting relationship requires vulnerability.

  • "Then they kissed each other and wept together (as they embraced)—but David wept the most." — 1 Samuel 20:41 NLT (NIV)

They each continued to encourage each other throughout their friendship.

  •  “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.” — 1 Samuel 23:16

“Ordinary man can do extraordinary things.  When people love each other—they fight for each other like you’ve never seen before.” — Captain Nate Self, Army Ranger Operation Anaconda (Afghanistan).

Commitment and Loyalty

Jonathan made an outward sign of commitment to David.

  • “Jonathan made a special vow to be David’s friend, and he sealed the pact by giving him his robe, tunic, sword, bow, and belt.” — 1 Samuel 18:3

Jonathan stood up for David.

  • (Jonathan to his father, Saul) “Please don’t sin against David.” — 1 Samuel 19:4

Jonathan asked the Lord to keep their friendship accountable.

  • “May the Lord make us keep our promises to each other, for he has witnessed them.” — 1 Samuel 20:23
  • “Go in peace, for we have made a pact in the Lord’s name.  We have entrusted each other and each other’s children into the Lord’s hands forever.” — 1 Samuel 20:42

“A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.” — Proverbs 17:17

Sometimes I think that the stories, events and relationships like those in the Bible can’t happen in "real life." But they can, as John Eldredge wrote of his late friend, Brent Curtis, in The Journey of Desire:

“I lost the truest friend I have ever known.  Brent was more than my partner; he was for me the rarest of gifts—his heart saw what mine saw.  Our friendship was a shared journey, a mutual quest, for the secret of our souls.  It took us into the mountains, into literature and music, into the desperate battle raging all around for the hearts of others as well.  We laughed and grieved and scorned and yearned all along the way.”

To have a relationship like these should be the goal of every man and the desire for every woman for her husband or male friends.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” John Donne

Cliff Young is a contributing writer to Sandlot Stories (ARose Books).  An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback?  Send your comments and questions to