Zoram, we are told, was a “true friend” to Nephi (see 2 Nephi 1:30), as was Amulek to Alma. Hyrum was a true friend and brother to Joseph.
The friendship of David and Jonathan has become a standard. Rarely have two individuals been as devoted to one another as these two.
As we study what they did for each other, we can learn principles that will assist us as we evaluate our own friendships and the influences they have on us.
There are those kinds of friends from whom we should run. Judah’s friend Hirah, the Abdullamite, was willing to pay Judah’s debt to a harlot (Genesis 38:20). Jonadab, the friend of Amnon, counseled Amnon on how to put himself in a position to take advantage of his half-sister, Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13). Job’s three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, came to comfort Job in his misery and then added to his misery by telling him he was suffering because he was so wicked.
Jonathan and David Make a Covenant of Friendship; Saul Becomes Jealous of David and Tries to Kill Him
The fact that the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David just after the defeat of Goliath is interesting. Jonathan and his armor-bearer, with only a few weapons and their faith in God, had attacked and routed the Philistine garrison (see 1 Samuel 14 and Old Testament lesson 22 from last week). David, armed with a staff and a sling, had gone against the Philistine champion, a man from whom the other Israelites had all fled. It is not hard to imagine that common faith and courage drew these two young men together.
What does the final phrase of 1 Samuel 18:3 (“he loved him as his own soul”) suggest about true friendship?
Jonathan was the crown prince of Israel. David and Samuel knew that Jonathan was not next in line for the throne, because David had been anointed to become king, and it is possible that Jonathan knew it also.
Saul also was pleased with David. He took him into his own service after the death of Goliath “and would let him go no more home to his father's house” (1 Samuel 18:2). David served Saul well.
But something caused Saul to turn against David.
What was the initial cause of Saul’s anger at David? The final phrase of 18:8 suggests that perhaps at this time Saul has begun to suspect that the neighbor mentioned by Samuel in 1 Samuel 15:8—the neighbor who would take the throne from Saul—is none other than David.
Reading these passages reminded me of a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the parable of the two sons.
Can you see Saul in these paragraphs? Saul is angry that his people are happy with David’s success. How insidious a jealous heart can be!
There must be a warning here for all of us. We are required by our religion to rejoice in, rather than resent, the good fortune of others.
Saul will later have other excuses for his hatred of David, but for now, it is enough for him that David is doing well and is loved. “And Saul eyed David from that day and forward” (1 Samuel 18:9).
David knew of this burgeoning animosity. Saul had tried to kill him.
How did he respond?
Brigham Young said something about behaving ourselves wisely when others speak and think evil of us. He was giving instructions to departing missionaries in 1861. He said:
Saul Fails in Three More Attempts to Take David’s Life
The account of David’s marriage to Saul’s daughter, and the events surrounding that marriage, sound very much like the plot of a poorly written soap opera. What purpose did Saul have in offering his daughter to David? What was the underlying reason for the dowry he required of David? (See 1 Samuel 18:17, 21, 25)
When the Philistines failed to accomplish Saul’s objective, his subtlety vanished. “And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David” (1 Samuel 19:1).
But Jonathan was a true friend to David and he knew what was right.
However, Saul’s oath, sworn by the life of God, was soon forgotten.
Michal also turns out to have been a true friend to her husband, David.
David and Jonathan Renew Their Covenant of Friendship, and Jonathan Saves David’s Life
The foundation of the friendship of David and Jonathan is the Rock of Christ. Before this bulwark, all other considerations must defer. Thus Jonathan feels a greater responsibility to David than to his own father. The issue is not a generation gap. It is not a matter of filial rebellion against parental authority. It is not a matter of Jonathan’s appreciation of David’s personality more than that of his father. It is a matter of right and wrong.
Saul had planned to kill David at the three-day feast of the new moon. But David suspected perfidy and did not come. In his anger, Saul told Jonathan:
We were told in 1 Samuel 16:14 that Saul lost the Spirit. Have you seen evidence enough of this to convince you? Samuel thought his life was threatened by Saul (see 1 Samuel 16:2); Saul tried repeatedly to kill David; and now . . .
David fled from the household and presence of Saul for the final time. Future attempts to kill David would happen in locations of David’s choosing.
Saul Is Consumed by Hatred for David; David Spares Saul’s Life
Saul’s maniacal rage continued even with David gone from his presence. What happened to the priests of Nob who gave David assistance? (see 1 Samuel 22:18–19). What did Saul intend to do to the city of Keilah where David had found assistance? (see 1 Samuel 23:10).
What would cause a man to be so destitute of basic values and Christian principles that he would destroy a city to kill a single man?
The fall of Saul is one of the great tragedies of the Old Testament. That a man of such goodness and ability could fall so far and so fast must become a solemn warning to all of us. We are not safe because we are good. We are not safe because we have been obedient. We are only safe if we press “forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end” (2 Nephi 31:20). Heber J. Grant said it this way:
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