Building Authentic Relationships
The word authentic has become a bit of a buzz word in our culture. People crave authenticity; they want their relationships to feel real. Even though we have more options than ever to connect, it’s difficult to make close friends. Those friends that we rely on when we are hurting, those friends that we call when we need someone to talk to, or those friends we reach out to first when we have something to celebrate. Our desire for a friendship that is real–for something authentic–is both understandable and biblical.
One specific story of close friendship found in the Bible existed between David and Jonathan. Below are three examples that we can pull from the relationship between David and Jonathan to help us build authentic relationships.
After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day, Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father’s house. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow, and his belt – 1 Samuel 18:1-4, NIV
Authentic friendship requires humility. For Jonathan, it was ignoring his powerful status, valuing David above himself, not looking at his interest, but looking at David’s interest by giving David his royal robes and armor, inviting him into his family as an equal.
The second example of authentic friendship that we see in the relationship between David and Jonathan is commitment and devotion.
Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.” – 1 Samuel 19:1-3, NLT
Both of these guys had a lot to risk. Yet, they remained committed to one another. David and Jonathan had a sacred pact, a covenant, they were devoted friends. Jonathan and David were sincere in their love for one another. It was genuine. They knew that the love they shared was good, and instead of casting it to the side, they chose to help one another when each needed help the most.
Encourage and Build Each Other Up
The third example from the relationship between David and Jonathan was the commitment to encourage and build one another up.
While David was at Horesh in the Desert of Ziph, he learned that Saul had come out to take his life. 16 And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “My father Saul will not lay a hand on you. You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you. Even my father Saul knows this.” The two of them made a covenant before the Lord. Then Jonathan went home, but David remained at Horesh. – 1 Samuel 23:15-18, NIV
Don’t be afraid, you are going to be king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father Saul, is well aware. Samuel records it; clearly, Jonathan is well aware that David would be the next King. Jonathan recognized that God had anointed David as the next King, and he willingly stepped aside in obedience.
Those words that Jonathan used were meant to build David up, to encourage him. Jonathan affirmed what David already knew, God’s Spirit was with David, and he would continue to protect him.