Dr Ng Peh Cheng's Chapel Message on 12 June, 2002
We may have many friends but the level of friendship varies. To reach the level of the friendship bond between Jonathan and David is not impossible but requires much inner searching and God-centred commitment. Jonathan and David's friendship was first mentioned in I Sam. 18:1. However, the strength of their friendship bond was put to severe testing by Jonathan's father, King Saul who was jealous of David's anointment to be the next king (I Sam. 18:6-9). They passed the test because their friendship was characterized by the marks of loyalty and trust.
Jonathan's loyalty was demonstrated with acts of risking his life to save David's life from his father's plan of assassination (I Sam. 20:12,13 & 23:15-17a). His deepest concern was to ensure David's continuing trust in God, "Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God" (I Sam. 20:16). The incident gives insight into Jonathan's own devotion to God and the dilemma he was experiencing. Jonathan was faced with a moral dilemma of having to choose between the right to honour his father and the right to save the life of his good friend. He chose the latter to do what was right to his own disadvantage and risk.
David was profoundly affected by Jonathan's death (II Sam. 1:26) and his loyalty remained unchanged and extended to his friend's children. He accepted Mephibosheth, Jonathan's lame son into his family and restored to him all Saul's lands and servants (II Sam 9). Their loyalty enabled them to stay as friends through thick and thin.
Trust was in the hearts of both men that they would not betray each other. Jonathan was heir to Saul's throne and he could have killed David who was a "rival" to his kinship. Jonathan gave his assurance (I Sam. 20:12,13). Jonathan trusted David not to destroy his family as it was a cultural practice for the new king to destroy everyone in the family of the king he had replaced. David earned his friend's trust by accepting Jonathan's covenants with him, (I Sam. 20:16,17 & 23:18). Their trust enabled them to seal a permanent and continuous loyalty to each other.
THE FOUNDATION OF FRIENDSHIP
On two occasions, David had the opportunities to kill Saul to solve his predicament and refugee status (I Sam. 24:1-7 & I Sam. 26:8-11). His fear of the Lord constrained him from taking vengeance, "the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord's anointed" (I Samuel 26:11). Jonathan, the crowned prince had opportunities to kill David but his fear of the Lord constrained him from usurping David's throne, "Don't be afraid, . . . . 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" (I Samuel 23:17). Their fear of the Lord enabled them the firm foundation to develop loyalty, trust and will to do the right thing to honour God with their friendship.
Lessons learned from the friendship of Jonathan and David can be applied in different contexts but I would like readers to consider an actual case in the context of Christian ministry.
Dick (not his real name) was healthy and fit when he heeded God's call to a full-time position in a Christian organization. He began with a group of loyal supporters whom he trusted with his life and ministry. Unexpectedly, he was stricken with a rare illness some years later that left him disabled to continue his ministry. At the point when he needed friendship most, a number of supporters stopped giving that led to a sudden loss of financial security for him and his family! He was thrown into a state of misery and uncertainties that led him to write, "Now, I know who my true friends are." Does it suffice to tell him and his dependents, "Have faith! Trust God and pray!" Perhaps, we should consider these questions.
- In supporting a Lord's servant, are we supporting the work or the
- Should we separate the work from the worker?
- What is the definition of "supporter?"
- How should we response to Dick's situation?
Our chapel speaker this Wednesday (19 Jun) will be Dr John Lim. Come & join us at Rm 302, 12 noon. Next week's speaker will be Rev Ng Seng Chuan.