Jonathan, the Model Friend
2 Samuel 1:26
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been to me: your love to me was wonderful…

The most interesting thing in the life of Jonathan is the friendship that existed between him and David.

I. JONATHAN WAS THE MODEL OF — A LOVING — FRIEND. A friend is good for nothing unless he really loves us. And the better he loves us, the more his friendship is worth. Let us look at some illustrations of what loving friends will be, and do. A boy in a town in Germany was playing one day with his sister, when the cry was heard — "A mad dog! a mad dog!" The boy saw the dog coming directly towards him; but instead of running away, he took off his coat, and wrapping it round his arm, boldly faced the dog, holding out his arm covered with the coat. The dog flew at his arm, worrying over it, and trying to bite through it, till men came up and killed him. "Why didn't you run away from the dog, my little man?" asked one of the men. "I could easily have done that," said the brave boy, "but if I had the dog would have bitten my sister." He was truly a loving friend and brother. There is a well-known story of two men, who lived about four hundred years before the birth of Christ, that comes in very nicely here. Their names were Damon and Pythias. They were educated men, and what were called — philosophers — in those days, and were very warm friends. Some one accused Damon to Dionysius, the king of the country, of doing something that made him very angry. Kings, in those days, had the power of life and death in their own hands. So Dionysius ordered Damon to be put to death. Before this sentence was executed, Damon begged to be allowed to go home 'and arrange the affairs of his family. The king said he might go, if he could get some one to take his place in prison, and to die for him, if he did not come back by the time fixed for the execution. As soon as his friend Pythias heard of this, he came and offered to take his place. He was put in prison, and Damon went to visit his family. The day fixed for the execution arrived, and Damon had not returned. He had to cross the sea to get back, and the wind had been ahead for several days. A platform had been erected, on which the execution was to take place, and the king sat by, on a sort of throne. Pythias was brought out for execution. He asked permission to say a few words to the crowd of spectators. Permission was granted. "My countrymen," said he, "this is a happy day for me. I am not only willing, but glad to die in the place of my friend Damon. I am thankful that the wind has kept him back. He will be here to-morrow. And it wilt be found that he has done nothing wrong. He is an honest, upright, honourable man, and I am glad of the opportunity to shed my blood in order to save his life. Executioner, do your duty." Just as he had finished speaking, a voice was heard in the distance crying — "Stop the execution!" The crowd around the scaffold took up the cry, and exclaimed, in a voice of thunder — "Stop the execution!" The execution was stopped. Presently, panting, and out of breath, Damon appeared. He mounted the scaffold. He embraced his friend Pythias; and said how happy he was that a change of wind had allowed him to get there just in time to save his life. "And now," said he, "I am ready to die." "If I may not die for you," said Pythias, "I ask the king to let me die with you; for I have no wish to live any longer in this world, when my friend Damon, whom I have loved so truly, is taken out of it." I have one other story to illustrate this part of our subject. A teacher in a day-school had to punish one of his scholars for breaking the rule of the school. The punishment was that the offending boy should stand, for a quarter of an hour, in a corner of the schoolroom. As the guilty boy was going to the appointed place, a little fellow, much younger than he, went up to the teacher, and requested that he might be allowed to bake the place of the other boy. The teacher consented. The little boy went, and bore the punishment due to the other boy. When the quarter of an hour was passed, the teacher called the boy to him, and asked if his companion had begged him to take his place. "No, sir," he replied. "Well, don't you think that he deserved to be punished?" "Yes, sir; he had broken the rule of the school, and he deserved to be punished." "Why, then, did you want to bear the punishment in his place?" "Sir, it was because he is my friend, and I love him."

II. JONATHAN WAS THE MODEL OF — A GENEROUS — FRIEND. Let us look at some illustrations of this same kind of friendship. In one of the battles in Virginia, during the late war, a Union officer fell, severely wounded, in front of the Confederate breast-works. He lay there crying piteously for water, A noble-hearted Confederate soldier heard his cry, and resolved to relieve him. He filled his canteen with water, and though the bullets were flying across the field, and he could only go at the risk of his life, yet he went. He gave the suffering officer the drink he so greatly needed. This touched his heart so much that he instantly took out his gold watch and offered it to his generous foe. But the noble fellow refused to take it. "Then give me your name and residence," said the officer. "My name," said the soldier, "is James Moore, of Burke County, North Carolina." Then they parted. That soldier was subsequently wounded, and lost a limb. In due time the war was over, and that wounded officer went back to his business as a merchant, in New York. And not long after, that Confederate soldier received a letter from the officer, to whom he had given the "cup of cold water," telling him that he had settled on him USD10,000, to be paid in four annual instalments of USD2,500 each. USD10,000 for a drink of water! That was noble on the part of the Union officer. But to give that drink of water at the risk of his own life was still more noble on the part of that brave soldier. I never think of it without feeling inclined to take off my cap and give a rousing "Hurrah!" for that noble Confederate soldier. Thomas Samson was a miner, and he worked very hard every day for a living. The overseer of the mine said to him one day: "Thomas, I've got an easier berth for you, where there is not so much work to do, and where you can get better wages. Will you accept it?" Most men would have jumped at such an offer, and would have taken it in a moment. But what did this noble fellow do? He said to the overseer: "Captain, there's our poor brother Tregony: he has a sickly body, and is not able to work as hard as I can. I am afraid his work will shorten his life, and then what will his poor family do? Won't you let him have this easier berth? I can go on working as I have done." The overseer was wonderfully pleased with Samson's generous spirit. He sent for Tregony, and gave the easy berth to him. How noble that was! It was indeed the very spirit of Christ. Now, all the four stories we have here show the same generous spirit that Jonathan had in his friendship with David. He was the model of a generous friend.


(R. Newton, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

WEB: I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan. You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

Divine Goodness in Human Friendship
Top of Page
Top of Page