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Why Men Need Friends

  • Cliff Young Contributing Writer
  • Updated Oct 23, 2007
Why Men Need Friends

These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future — Vernon Cooper

Back to the Future was the highest grossing film of 1985 and was an international phenomenon.  It was a science fiction trilogy that dealt with complex theories of time-travel.  One of the main aspects that it explored was to go back into history, change an event, and thus affect the future. 

I know that I’ve wanted to use time travel to go back and change some things in my life. I’d probably take back some things that I’ve said, some things that I’ve done, and some things that I didn’t do (like buy Starbucks stock when it first came out). 

George Santayana, philosopher and poet, once said, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

That thought came to mind as I studied the relationship of David and Jonathan.  David had an amazing life from the underdog shepherd boy to the King of Judah.  He has been remembered as a “man after God’s own heart,” a man of wisdom, compassion and a forgiving spirit.  But oftentimes, he’s also remembered as the king that had an affair with Bathsheba and covered up his immorality by having her husband Uriah killed.

So how could a “man after God’s own heart” fall like he did, how could it have been different had Jonathan been by his side (hypothetically), and what can we learn from it all?


David was born a warrior and was created to lead.  He thrived in the battlefield like no other in history.  Throughout his life, the Lord showed him favor in the battlefield with valor, with wisdom and with success. 

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army.” — 2 Samuel 11:1

David, for some reason, stayed home from the battlefield.  Maybe he lost his “will” to be in the heat of battle, maybe he had too many other things to take care of as king, or maybe he didn’t have his best friend to fight alongside. 

“Within the willingness to die for family and home, something inside us longs for someone to die with . . . someone to die beside . . . someone to lock step with.  Another man with a heart like our own.  That’s what David was saying about Prince Jonathan.  Every warrior needs a fellow soldier.  Every fighter pilot needs a wing man.”
Stu Weber —
Tender Warrior

Jonathan was no longer there to share in the fight with David.  If Jonathan was still alive, I believe that David would have been out on the battlefield, where he was born to be, and not isolated and in a position of temptation.


Sexual sins don’t (usually) happen when a person is busy and in the midst of battle; it happens during that idle time in the day when they’re alone and bored.  Proverbs 12:11 says, “ . . . only fools idle away their time (he who chases fantasies lacks judgment)” NLT (NIV).

“One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.  From the roof he saw a woman bathing.” — 2 Samuel 11:2

David may have been thinking about his troops on the battlefield, wishing he were there or he may have been thinking about his friend Jonathan (“Your love for me [David] was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women” 2 Samuel 1:26).  Whatever the reason was that led David to pace the roof of his palace; he stumbled upon a temptation and chose to “chase his fantasy.”

David had the opportunity to turn and walk away, having only looked.  Instead, he sent someone to inquire about Bathsheba, and acted upon his temptation.  Had Jonathan been alive, I’d like to believe that David would have sent for him to share the struggle he was having, rather than for Bathsheba and fulfill his fantasy.

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar” — Robert Brault

An even better friend is one who does not consult his watch.


Success is rarely found alone.  Beside or behind every successful person, is someone who has encouraged, supported, challenged, and fought with them. Moses had Aaron, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak (Apple Computers), David had Jonathan, and Batman had Robin.

David and Jonathan shared common values, love, trust, commitment and loyalty to one another.  They became “one in spirit” immediately upon meeting and stood side by side throughout their lives.  But when Jonathan died, David lost more than a friend; he lost a part of himself.  Isaiah’s words in 47:10 could have been describing David in his later days, “Your ‘wisdom’ and ‘knowledge’ have caused you to turn away from me and claim, ‘I am self-sufficient and not accountable to anyone!’”

The danger comes when we think we don’t need anyone else and we become self-sufficient (in our own mind).  We get so independent that we feel as if we don’t need to answer to anyone.  I would like to think that if Jonathan was alive, David and Jonathan would have had a friendship where they were accountable to each other.  In the end, David had no close friend to go to, no one to be accountable to. 

John Eldredge in Wild at Heart says, “Don’t even think about going into battle alone.  Don’t even try to take the masculine journey without at least one man by your side.  Yes, there are times a man must face the battle alone, in the wee hours of the morn, and fight with all he’s got.  But don’t make that a lifestyle of isolation.  This may be our weakest point, as David Smith points out in The Friendless American Male: ‘One serious problem is the friendless condition of the average American male.  Men find it hard to accept that they need the fellowship of other men.’”

Men are raised to be naturally independent, to not depend on someone else and to not show “need.”  As a result, we (men) think that if we do ask for help we show weakness, and that’s one of the underlying reasons that men can find it more difficult to give their lives over to Christ.  

Go out and find someone who shares your values and experiences, someone to connect with and to commit to, someone to trust and be accountable to, and someone to walk with under the protection of God’s Word.

If we learn from the knowledge we gained from the past—and from biblical examples of friendship like David and Jonathan—we can turn it into wisdom to be used in our future.

 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