Bound in Friendship

I think it was the writers of the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy who coined the phrase “my person.” Well, at least that’s where I first heard it. I’ve only watched a few seasons of the show years ago, but the friendships between the main characters still stand out to me. If you know anything about the show, Meredith and Cristina often refer to each other as “my person.” They are always present for each other, caring for each other, and often showing each other tough love. There is nothing that they are unwilling to do for each other. During one episode, Meredith says that her husband Derek is the love of her life and that Cristina is her soulmate. Souls bound or connected in friendship like this is not a new thing. In the Old Testament, there is a real, deep friendship much like this fictional one.

Being an over-thinker who feels deeply and is perpetually single, real friendships matter to me but are not easily formed. Connections have to be organic not forced. That’s what led me to study the bond Jonathan initiated with David.

In 1 Samuel 18, Jonathan, son of King Saul, sees David right after David’s battle with Goliath and is immediately connected to him. Scripture says that Jonathan’s soul (the deepest level and places of a person’s life) was bound or knit to David’s.

As soon as David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David*, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. -1 Samuel 18:1
*literally “the life of Jonathan was bound to the life of David”

This knitting or binding of Jonathan’s soul to David’s, loving David as he loved himself, moves Jonathan to action.

Jonathan initiates a covenant friendship with David.
The soul of Jonathan was bound to David’s in what David later refers to as hesed, which is a Hebrew word that means a loyal, steadfast, faithful love that surpasses ordinary kindness and friendship, is deeper than social norms or expectations, and is not deserved or earned by the recipient. There is no overwhelming evidence that David reciprocates this love until two chapters later (end of 1 Samuel 20).
Jonathan, with God as his witness, declares his commitment to David and promises him love and loyalty.

Jonathan gives David a significant gift, though David really has nothing to give in return.
He gave David things that signified the person he was and the position he held. The robe, armor, sword, bow, and belt (1 Sam 18:4) were all things that David could potentially use against him, but Jonathan gave them anyway, showing the depth of his commitment to David. This commitment is unusual because David is a rival to Jonathan’s future kingship. Instead of killing him (which is what most people in this situation would do), Jonathan promises to protect him.

Jonathan is willing to do anything to protect David, even going against his father the King.
Jonathan is told by his father to kill David, but instead Jonathan warns David of the king’s plans and tells him to be on guard. When David escapes Saul’s agents who were sent to David’s home, he goes to Jonathan. David tells Jonathan that Saul is definitely trying to kill him, and Jonathan says to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” This could have gotten Jonathan killed. David knew that Jonathan would respond in this way. He knew that he could trust and rely on Jonathan’s hesed for him.

This true story shows us that Real friendships…

Are Costly
Investing in the life of another takes time and effort. You cannot expect to grow or maintain a relationship without quality time and communication. You might give up something for a friendship the way Jonathan did for David. There must also be vulnerability and transparency. Both people must be willing to be open and honest about the silly, stupid stuff and the tough, serious stuff.
Opening up like this comes with risks of embarrassment, rejection, and pain, but it’s worth it to find someone with whom you can be your true self.

Require Commitment
True friendship is based on commitment not performance. Intentionally committing to someone in friendship with no agenda or “what am I gonna get” thoughts is counter-cultural. Transparency and connectedness are not things people readily jump into probably because the risks seem greater than the reward. Staying with someone through ups and downs, good times and conflicts seems like too much work. In reality, it is work. Sometimes hard work. But we need people in our lives who will love and care for us unconditionally. Put in the effort, commit to a friend you feel a connection with, risk transparency, work through conflict, communicate. Even if you get burned, the potential bond is worth the risk.

Ensue Confidence
When you know you have a real, true friend, you know where to run when you need support. In his 1 Samuel commentary, Davis states, “In confusion and trouble, you take yourself to the one person who has made a covenant with you. In David’s disintegrating world there was yet one space of sanity, one refuge still intact–Jonathan.”
There is strength in knowing that you have someone in your life who will be there for you no matter what happens or what you do.

Friendship like the one between Jonathan and David is rare, so if you have someone like Jonathan in your life, be thankful for them.

If you don’t have anyone you connect with and who pours into your life, this true story points us to the perfect friend we have in Jesus. He is the One that you can run to when you need peace, comfort, and support. The purpose of this post is not to point out all the ways in which see Christ in the passage (and there are a lot), but I did want to encourage those who feel like that have no true bond of friendship with the truth of Christ’s perfect hesed for us.


The Summit Church: V-Formation of Friendship, Sermon by Pastor Bryan Loritts

1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart by Dale Ralph Davis

Frontline Church-South Sermons: Jonathan and David, Sermon by Josh Kouri

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