David and Jonathan

1 Samuel 20:1-17


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24 Aug 2015

Luke Nelson

Luke is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Melbourne West. He joined City on a Hill in its early days, serving as the Community Pastor in Melbourne, before being asked to lead a new church plant. Having grown up in Melbourne’s western suburbs, he has a deep knowledge of and passion for the area, and a great desire to see the gospel bring transformation. A gifted communicator, he loves the work of pastoring a church, opening God’s word each week and seeing the Spirit work. Luke graduated with a BA (Hons) from Melbourne University, has a Grad Dip in Divinity and a Masters of Ministry from Ridley College. He is an ordained Anglican minister in the Diocese of Melbourne and an active member of Acts 29.

24 Aug 2015

Nick Coombs

Nick is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Melbourne East. He loves Jesus, is passionate about connecting deep theology with everyday life, and eager to make a difference in the time he has by helping plant as many churches as possible. After Jesus, Nick loves his wife Jules, and his two kids, Axel and Aria. He holds an MDiv from Ridley College, is a member of Acts 29, an ordained Anglican minister and gives too much of his time to fantasy sports.

16 Aug 2015
  • Transcript

    Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favour in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”

    Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.

    And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness! When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as He has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.” And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul. [1 Samuel 20:1-17]


    Good morning, City on a Hill. How are we? Good, it is a pleasure to be with you this morning. As Dave said, my name is Nick. I get to serve as the executive pastor here at City on a Hill Melbourne, which means I get to lead the staff and the ministry that comes out of this site. It’s a joy to be involved in that.

    Who’s been particularly blessed by this series? Good, a lot of hands going up. I hope you see that we are journeying chronologically through the Book of 1 Samuel at the moment as we look at David’s rise. We’ve seen David and Samuel, David and Goliath, David and Saul, and today Dave said(a different David), we come to David and Jonathan.

    Jonathan is, unfortunately, perhaps one of the forgotten great men of Scripture, but we’re going to pray now, and I’d love for you to join me, and then we’re going to dive into this chapter, 1 Samuel Chapter 20. So if you do have your Bibles, please do open them with me. Let’s pray.

    Oh, Lord God, we come before You this morning humbly, yet confident because we’re in Jesus. And Lord, we ask that You would come, and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, You would illuminate Your Word to us, and as You promised, Lord, that the sword of the Spirit will be wielded and it would accomplish what You want. It would be living and active.

    So Lord, for those at this moment who are far from You, Lord, would You bring them toward You today. Lord, for those who are bored with Jesus here this morning, I pray that You would see and give them awe and marvel at how good He is.

    God, for those who are struggling, would You comfort and encourage. Lord, for those who are in sin, would You rebuke and exhort. God, for all of us, would You make us humbly repentant before You. We cling to You afresh. I pray that You would come and do that by the power of Your Holy Spirit, we pray, in Jesus’ name, and all the people said Amen.

    Well, today as Dave said and as Mandy and Ash shared, we come to a picture of just a beautiful friendship; mateship. And our world has seen a lot of great friends. Mandy and Ashe are just one awesome example. Batman and Robin, another awesome example. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, great friends. Ren and Stimpy, for those of us who grew up in the 90’s. Joey and Chandler, Jerry and George. C-3PO and R2-D2. Bart and Milhouse.

    Today we come to Jonathan and David. This friendship outdoes all of them. Jonathan and David are the original BFFs, and their bromance is one of the greatest friendships of all of Scripture. But I know that Jonathan is a bit of an unknown quantity in the church today. And so I want to begin just by introducing you to him, and I want us to see three different scenes that kind of set the stage for this chapter that we’re about to enter into now in Chapter 20.

    Jonathan is King Saul’s son. He is the natural heir to the throne of Israel, and we first meet Jonathan in 1 Samuel 13. When we meet him, we are immediately struck that the apple has fallen very far from the tree. Jonathan is not at all like King Saul. The first picture we get of Jonathan is that of a warrior who leads his troops, his thousand, to defeat a whole garrison of Philistines.

    Jonathan is the man, and yet we see also similarly to how Saul responds to David, that Saul, like an insecure father who is living vicariously through his son, actually takes the credit to Jonathan’s victory, and so throughout all of Israel, it is proclaimed, “Saul defeated a garrison of the Philistines.” Not a great start.

    Then in scene 2, the very next chapter, total war has broken out. And Jonathan has his own kind of David and Goliath moment where he’s in a really vulnerable position, just him and his armour bearer. And he’s called out by these Philistines and kind of taunted, and Jonathan goes up knowing that the Lord is going to be with him and it’s kind of like an action scene from the movie Taken. He defeats twenty of them within moments.

    He kills twenty of them, and this kind of rumour then spread throughout the whole Philistine camp and 36,000 of them then are scared and start running away all because of this man Jonathan. And so we see already that Jonathan is a fiercely humbly, and yet faith-filled—unlike his father—faith-filled warrior.

    And yet, even in that moment, even in that victory, as the Philistines are scattering, King Saul does something very foolish. What he does is that because they are in war, he vows that no man in his army, no Israelite will eat anything. And yet Jonathan is coming back to the camp after his little warrior moment and he is out of WiFi range, doesn’t get the memo. And so he takes a bit of honey and he loves and enjoys that honey, but then as he gets closer to the Israelites, whispers start coming because it becomes clear, someone has broken this vow.

    King Saul made this vow foolishly, and now someone has broken it. There needs to be justice, and so lots were cast to work out who it was, and inevitably it falls upon Jonathan. And there’s this moment where Saul, the king, is prepared to kill his own son to defend his own foolish and insecure vow, until other Israelites intervened.

    And then in the third scene just before we meet him here in Chapter 20, it’s in the afterglow of David’s victory over Goliath. We know how Saul responded to David. Saul, out of jealousy, bitter, envy, wanted to kill David, yet Jonathan responds in a completely opposite way.

    After David’s victory, the heir apparent, Jonathan himself comes up to David and in an incredible display of humility, he takes off his robe, he takes off his armour, he pulls out his sword and his bow and his belt, and he gives it to David as if to say—because he sees—this man is the Lord’s anointed.

    C. S. Lewis had said that, “Friendship is born at the moment when one person says to another, "What? You, too? I thought I was the only one!" Like Mandy and Ash, “Your mum’s into Foreigner. You didn’t get to go to the concert. What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” And this would have been the case for David and Jonathan. Their “what you too!” moment was, “Hey, you like cutting the heads off Philistines.” “What, you too!”

    But they also had to deal with the folly and insecurity of King Saul. And so they were bonded over this moment and these experiences. And so as we come to today’s text, 1 Samuel 20, we need to understand that, yes, there have been opposite trajectories of David and Saul. David is on the rise, Saul’s stocks are falling, but we also see the opposite responses to David, of Jonathan and Saul.

    So after four attempts on his life, David is now fleeing from Saul or has fled from Saul and he found refuge with the prophet Samuel. And then Saul ran after him and tried to capture him, but David will now leave Samuel, and we get in this chapter a bit of a lull in the action scenes of 1 Samuel.

    A bit more quiet. #Davidhaskilledhistenofthousands is no longer trending. It is a little up in the air whether Saul really does want to continue the chase and does really want to continue seeking David. And we’re going to see in this chapter and in the friendship of Jonathan and David three key things that I want us to explore.

    We’re going to see:

    The need for true friendship

    The marks of true friendship

    The glory of covenant faithfulness

    So let’s begin by exploring, number one, the need for true friendship. Come with me to Chapter 20 where we can watch it or read it on the screen. Verses 1 to 3, this is how the scene starts, “Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah,” where Samuel was, “and came and said before Jonathan, ‘What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?’ And he said to him, ‘Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.’ But David vowed again, saying, ‘Your father knows well that I have found favour in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.”

    So David comes to Jonathan utterly afraid, fearing for his life. He is certain that Saul is continuing to chase him, that Saul is still after him. And so let’s notice here, straight off the bat, just how different this David is from the David of David and Goliath. This David, the victor, has turned into a victim. David is not protected as the Lord’s anointed from trial, from fear. Oh, he’s very much in the thick of it. He is not immune to the trials and challenges of life.

    And as the Psalms reveal, as David wrote most of them, we know that he experienced the whole gamut of human emotion. And in this moment, he is experiencing fear beyond belief. He is the anointed king, but in this moment, in this already not yet moment, the tension of his current experience is just making him afraid. And David’s response here is not, “The Lord, the God of Israel, will surely give Saul into my hands.”

    No, he seeks out his friend Jonathan. Before we begin to think, “Oh, perhaps David is losing faith here, why isn’t David as confident as he was,” we must see that in this episode, actually it’s exposing an incredible and beautiful truth, that the presence of Jonathan is putting flesh on the protection of God. In the midst of turmoil and fear, yes, certainly David will have turned to God in prayer and praise, but we see here the importance of turning to godly people. So we need true friendship.

    If you are like me and perhaps you are an introvert, you’ve done the Myers-Briggs, you’ve done DiSC, and you kind of know that you are an introvert, and perhaps also you struggle with pride. If in fear, when under stress, the last thing you want to do is go to other people. It doesn’t really matter what it is.

    Perhaps I’ve come home for my Ikea, and I’m setting up Ikea furniture, and we all know how that ends up. And there’s that moment where, “Should I look at the instructions? Hang on, the instructions don’t make sense. Is that a person on the instructions? I don’t know what that character is.” And you try to work out what’s going on and you’re in complete trouble, “There’s no way I’m calling out the help. I can do this.”

    Perhaps you’re in the car and I drive and I don’t know the way. I don’t know the directions, “It’s all right. I can work this out.” For some reason whenever I’m in stress, suddenly I turn into Bob the Builder. Can I fix it? Yes, I can.

    I am bent this way as a sinner, by nature and by choice, my heart is curved in on itself. In fear, in doubt, in uncertainty, in turmoil, let alone in success and when I’m doing well, my heart is curved in on itself. It is wired to look inward, and this is a truth we need to see in ourselves.

    Martin Luther, the Great Reformer, once said, “Our nature, by the corruption of the first sin, is so deeply curved in on itself that it not only bends the best gifts of God towards itself and enjoys them or rather even uses God himself in order to attain these gifts, but it also fails to realise that it wickedly, cursedly and viciously seeks all things, even God, for its own sake.”

    That very much explains my experience, because in my experience, everything that comes into my life runs through my own filter of how I should feel about it. Everything that comes in to my life is sorted by, how can I use this for myself? How can this benefit me? How can this make me look good, whether it’s a friendship, a person, an opportunity?

    In the case of stress, in the case of fear and trial, my first response is, how can I get myself out of this? How can I save face in this moment? And if that’s always the case, then I’m going to become even more and more isolated, more and more curved inward, and more and more self-centered.

    Yet David and Jonathan show us here and the Scriptures point toward the necessity of actually opening ourselves up, of leaning in on other people in these times. Before we just think that this is a personality thing, the problem is not personality. It is not that I just need to be more extroverted. I need to get energy from people, and so in those moments, I might be more open, and it’s not a problem with other people as if there’s no one out there who can help.

    No, the problem with my lack of openness and honesty and my inclination away from others is actually a faith problem. My problem with not opening myself up and not first initially, kind of wanting to open myself up and seek help is because I don’t want to open myself up to God. All our relational problems are actually theology problems.

    C. S. Lewis once wrote this about his relationship with his wife. He said, “When I’ve learned to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. Insofar as I learned to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards a state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed, but increased.”

    Do you want to have great friendships? Put God first. David shows us here that it is actually a response of faith to seek out and reach out for the God-given lifeline of other people that He has put in your life. When you’re in trouble, when you are afraid, when work options aren’t looking great, when you’re feeling bullied by life, when there are consequences awaiting you, do you have people in your life that you can turn to? Do you have networks there or friendships there that would be there for you?

    David shows us that we should work in developing those friendships, and this in part why the church exists, you are not made to do life alone. You are made to be in a community, God’s community. Not because it’s nice and warm and fuzzy and we should all kind of get along. No, because isolation is impossible and spiritually suicidal.

    You were made to comfort and be comforted. You were made to serve and be served. You were made to encourage and be encouraged. You were made to remind others of the Gospel and be reminded of the Gospel. You were made for all the "one another”s of the New Testament. Without one another, we cannot do.

    The people around you right now, in this cinema, the people in your Gospel Community, the people of City on a Hill, they are a gift to you, a gracious gift to you on your journey of trusting Jesus.

    I’ve seen this in my own life. If we had up on the screen kind of a chart or a graph of my sanctification, my passion and obedience for Jesus. We would see that in every moment of growth, it was a moment where I had around me Christian mates who I could pray with, confess with, do life together with. That together, the Holy Spirit would propel us into greater love and obedience with Him. So we get a glimpse here of just how powerful relationships and friendships can be. We need them.

    Secondly, the marks of true friendship. So in response to David’s fear, Jonathan has a choice, and surely, his flesh and, of course, the ancient Israelite tradition and culture would have been telling him, “You’ve got to take care of your own flesh and blood. Saul is your father. Of course, you’ve got to side with your father. This guy gave birth to you. He was involved in that happening.”

    Saul is his father, and yet Jonathan’s heart was filled with faith. And he knew that David was the Lord’s anointed, and so in Verse 4 we see Jonathan respond, “Whatever you say, I will do for you. Whatever you say, I will do for you,” and so they together concoct a plan to ascertain whether Saul really is wanting to kill David, and so David is going to wag the New Moon Festival because he was warrior, because he was a son-in-law of the king, he would be expected to be at, and so Saul is going to see that he’s not there. Based upon Saul’s response, they would see whether he was either over it or he was ready and wanting to kill David.

    So this is a profound friendship. These guys are even closer than family, and I think we see in their friendship three particular things that help us determine what true friendship is. First is that true friendship involves sacrifice. Jonathan is the heir apparent. Jonathan should one day have the crown. He should be treated like royalty, and yet Jonathan is sacrificing his own place because he knows the plan of God for his friend David. And so he stepping out of the way, and even more than that, actually putting his own neck on the line for his friend.

    This is what we should love as Aussies. This is classic Australian mateship. Maybe Jonathan is Australian. This is the kind of sacrifice that has been etched into our culture because of our war heroes. And we can even go down to the Shrine of Remembrance, and there we would see the words of Jesus, “Greater love has no one than this: that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

    Those words of Jesus are illustrated here by Jonathan because as the feast unfolds and Saul notices David isn’t there and he starts asking about where David is, Jonathan stands up to defend him, and Saul fires back at Jonathan. He says these words, “As long as the son of Jesse lives on the Earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established.” So, even Saul sees it. Saul sees that Jonathan cannot be king if he lets David live.

    “Therefore, send and bring him to me for he shall surely die.’ Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, ‘Why should he be put to death? What has he done?’ But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him, so Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death.”

    Jonathan was a friend who sacrificed, and so how are you going at your relationships that are high maintenance? This is very high maintenance friendship. Jonathan had to risk his own very life, and our inwardly curved hearts are probably, really going to shy away if someone starts calling on us too often. Do we check out when the going gets tough in a friendship, when they start asking for things that second time, and then that third time, when they start dumping things that are deep and meaningful on you?

    Too often, you start feeling a bit high maintenance, “This person is a bit too needy. Perhaps I’m going to check out of this friendship. I’ll be here, but I won't reach out. Only when they get in contact will I contact them.” No, true friendship requires sacrifice.

    Number two, true friendship provides strength. True friendship provides strength. The name Jonathan means “gift from the Lord.” Jonathan showed himself to be that, by strengthening David. It did turn out that Saul really did want to kill David, obviously as we saw, and so David would flee. And then in the next few chapters, the action kind of picks back up again as Saul is chasing David running from him.

    There is this moment in 1 Samuel 23 where again David is in fear and Saul is just behind him, out to get him, and it says this, “David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh, and Jonathan, Saul's son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God.”

    Jonathan strengthened David’s hand in God. This is what friends do. If you were here last week, you will have heard the very challenging message from Pastor Andrew Grills talking about David and Saul. And he challenges us to heed the voice of the Lord. Obedience matters because faith without obedience is dead, as we’ve been learning about this year. But the relationship between Jonathan and David shows us that heeding the voice of the Lord, obeying God’s word requires relationships.

    Because I’ve heard one pastor say, “Eternal security is a community project. Perseverance of the saints is a corporate responsibility.” This means that the calling that you and I have, the many responsibilities that we have now that we are in Christ, one of them is, that we need to strengthen others in God. We are called to strengthen one another in God.

    So I’d love for you to think about right now who can you strengthen today. All of us know certain people, but we’re not sure about where they are at with Jesus, and it looks a little bit like they've got a little bored or they’ve got a little distracted or they’ve started drifting away. And it’s a bit awkward to have that conversation, it’s a bit awkward to put it out there and try to win them back. But we’re called to strengthen each other in God.

    Blessed are those who bring people back to Jesus. So who can you reach out to and offer them words of life, words of comfort and security, Gospel words. And it might just be the very words that God uses to bring them back to Jesus and to strengthen their hand in God.

    Number three, true friendship requires toughness and tenderness. One thing I’m particularly struck by as I read of the relationship between Jonathan and David is their vulnerability with one another.

    At the end of Chapter 20 as Jonathan and David say farewell, it says this, that “David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most.”

    There is great tenderness between these men. They know how to show emotion so much so that some of the more liberal scholars even go so far as to suggest that there was more going on than friendship, which is a little silly and not something anyone before the sexualisation in our culture would have thought about. These guys just deeply cared for one another. They were closer than brothers.

    What I find fascinating about that, is particularly that David and Jonathan had killed dudes. They had shot guys’ heads off. They had wrestled lions, and not like little play wrestling with Simba from the Lion King. This is like lions who were trying to gouge their eyes out, rip their heads off and eat them. They killed them.

    These men have been exposed to the real life trauma of blood and gore and the battles that will have brought them near death. They will have run across the desert in flame, hundreds of kilometres to get to a certain army position. These men are incredible men.

    I was thinking about this, and I was thinking about the fact that my wife and I love going to movies. We like particularly epic movies, but one thing that seems to happen, the difference between and my wife is when we come out of the movie, somehow I have absorbed the life of the movie into me.

    So if I go and see an action movie with a lot of guns, I’ll kind of come out with like my hands kind of down like this. I’m like, “Honey, just hang on.” I’d like to scope out the foyer of the cinema and just make sure that it’s all okay. And when I came out of the movie Inception, I couldn’t shake the thought, “Hang on, is this a dream or a dream within a dream?” And when I came out of the movie Tomorrowland, I kind of expected to see flying cars and like everything would be in the future. When I came out of the movie Inside Out, I started analysing every single one of my emotions. “Now, which one is this, fear or disgust?” When I came out of the movie World War Z, I started kind of looking at everyone else like, “Zombie, not a zombie?”

    Does this happen to anyone else? Like I kind of get so influenced by just a couple of hours of narrative. And then we look at David and Jonathan, and they were men who had the strength that far from letting these tough, hard experiences overcome them and change them, well, actually they were very tough, and yet still very tender. They didn’t have some stiff-necked pessimism or be hardened to love and emotion and vulnerability.

    It’s that mix of toughness and tenderness that certainly will have contributed to them being great friends. A true friend has the toughness to be loyal no matter what the cost, to sacrifice when their flesh would rather not, to pull their friend to a true and better way, perhaps even through the difficulty of repentance and sin. But a true friend also has the tenderness to weep, to mourn, to comfort, to show compassion when the situation calls for it.

    So if we are going to be good and godly friends, our emotion and affection should not just come out on the birthday card. True friendship involves the constant, continual sharing of encouragement and edification, of compassion and challenge, of restoration and rebuke. So when is the last time that you told one of your closest friends just how much you value? Is it their birthday? You should do it again this week.

    So we see in Jonathan and David a picture of true friendship. True friendship involves sacrifice, true friendship provides strength and true friendship requires toughness and tenderness. And we see this in Jonathan and David because their friendship was actually much more than friendship. It was about covenant faithfulness.

    So final and closing point, the glory of covenant faithfulness is what we see in their friendship. I hope you saw and read and listened to Jonathan’s speech at the end of that reading. In those verses in Chapter 20 as they agree to be with one another, side by side. Come what may, we’re going to be together.

    Jonathan says this, he says, “May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; and do not cut off your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.’ And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, ‘May the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.’ And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

    The friendship of Jonathan and David, this isn’t just about Jonathan and David, but there is something deeper going on that this friendship points towards. And we see this most clearly in that Jonathan and David make a covenant before the Lord together, and they do this three times. It happens on three different occasions over the course of about six chapters that we’re in the middle of it at the moment.

    Jonathan sees with faith the plan of God, that his father’s line has been rejected, but David is being exalted with kingship, and he says, “If I’m still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, and do not cut off the steadfast love from my house, even when the Lord cuts off all of your enemies.”

    He knows what is coming for his father, and he knows that the steadfast love is flowing from God to David, and so he binds himself to David through a covenant. This is a picture of something much greater. Because some thousand years later, the son of David, Jesus Christ would come. And he made a covenant with His people, all those who would trust in Him, and He would seal it with His own bloody death on a cross, and He offers us the chance to be bound to Him.

    Just as Jonathan’s covenant with David and therefore had the protection and the blessing of the king, so too does the son of David, Jesus himself, of us entrance into His covenant even today, granting His protection, His blessing, and His own steadfast love.

    There is great benefit in binding ourselves to Jesus. There is great benefit in putting our faith in Jesus:

    Forgiveness of all of your sins. That’s pretty good.

    Freedom from guilt and shame.

    Reconciliation with God.

    Salvation from death.

    Christ’s perfect righteousness, so you’re not just forgiven, you are made perfectly righteous in Him.

    Adoption into God’s family that you could call God, “Father,” and come before Him like a child.

    Unending faithfulness to keep you secure in Him forever.

    And even more than that, just as David was to Jonathan, Jesus promises to be a faithful friend to you.

    I read that one verse where Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” He goes on, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

    So even more than Jonathan, Jesus is the true and better faithful Friend who has sacrificed for you, who will continue to strengthen you, who will show you the toughness and the tenderness that you need to be crafted more and more into His image so you can enjoy all those covenant benefits. So perhaps you haven’t been the greatest friend, but in coming to Jesus, He has been a faithful Friend for you in your place.

    Incredibly, far from taking vengeance on His enemies, this offer that Jesus gives to us today is for His enemies, for those who have rejected Him, those who have not trusted Him, those who have not perhaps even believed in Him before this. The offer of friendship goes out to Jesus’ enemies, and so whatever you have done, whatever you have been involved in, or whatever you are currently involved in, you need to know that Jesus offers friendship to you and He offers covenant faithfulness to you. He offers steadfast, unchanging, never ending, nothing-can-get-in-between-it kind of love to you. He offers all of Himself to you, and He has shown us this on the cross.

    So all you need to do is trust Him, commit to Him, cling to Him, and those covenant benefits will be yours. As we come to the covenant benefits, it also comes with great covenant responsibilities, and so as Jonathan had to forsake his own family, as Jonathan had to let go of his right to the throne, something Saul was unwilling to do. Similarly, you and I in Christ are called to forsake anything that will get in the way of our commitment to him, laying down our crowns, perhaps even our own families.

    Jesus says this in the Book of Matthew, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

    This is weighty cost, and we see throughout the Scriptures and our experiences that often the cost is too much for people. It will require enduring peer pressure amongst friends at work. It will require letting go of that ungodly relationship. It will require caring little of your professional reputation. It will require caring a lot for the weak and lonely of society. It will require giving up the love of money. It will require protecting your brain from a million different sexual allures. It will require continually putting to death what is earthly in you. It will require your very life, but it is a cost that is dwarfed by the promise of the glory that we will receive as we hold fast to Him.

    At one point in the ministry of Jesus, and I’ll close with this, as Dave and the guys come up, Peter says to Jesus, “Lord, we have left everything and followed you. We have left everything and followed you. We have counted the cost. We have paid the cost,” and he says, “What would we have?” Jesus responds, “Truly I say to you, in the new world, you will sit by Me on twelve thrones, and everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for My name’s sake will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

    Through it all, Jesus will show His faithfulness to you. Jesus will never let you go. Jesus will never leave nor forsake you. Jesus will stay your true and better faithful Friend. Let’s pray.

    Lord Jesus, we praise You that greater love has none than this, that he who lays his life down for his friends. Lord, we praise You that You have laid your life down for us. We praise You that You have taken all our sin, all our shame, all our guilt. You have laid it and paid for it with Yourself.

    So Lord, we now come to You and we ask that given that You are the greatest Friend, would You graft us into You, would You bind us to You by faith, and would You make us like You. Make us better friends, make us true friends, as You are a true Friend to us.

    So come, Lord, do that by the power of the Holy Spirit we pray and send us out this morning that we might know You and love You, that we might be in awe of Your faithfulness to us through it all, and therefore would You allow us and empower us to be faithful to others. We pray this in the mighty name of Jesus, and all the people said Amen.

Nick Coombs

Nick is the Lead Pastor of City on a Hill Melbourne East. He loves Jesus, is passionate about connecting deep theology with everyday life, and eager to make a difference in the time he has by helping plant as many churches as possible. After Jesus, Nick loves his wife Jules, and his two kids, Axel and Aria. He holds an MDiv from Ridley College, is a member of Acts 29, an ordained Anglican minister and gives too much of his time to fantasy sports.