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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Great relationships begin with...
Date Posted: October 20, 2013

There are certain characteristics that must be present in order for a great relationship to develop. One of the most famous, truly great relationships occurred between David and Jonathan, and we find that in 1 Samuel 18. To understand this relationship there are some characteristics of each man that contribute to the relationship. However, the most telling is how God says in 1 Samuel 18:1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.

That is so telling because this relationship bridged age diversity. David was a teenager, and Jonathan was in Saul’s army (1 Samuel 13) which meant he was older than twenty, probably closer to twenty-five or thirty. It bridged class diversity. Jonathan was the son of a king, and David was the son of a shepherd. In essence, the Bible is telling us these commonalities are just trappings and nothing to base a solid relationship upon.

David had just killed Goliath. Jonathan felt an incredible affinity to the young man that defied reason, and depended completely upon God who is bigger than any Philistine giant or problem that puny humans may encounter. We first meet Jonathan, Saul’s son, earlier in 1 Samuel 13. Saul had only been king for two years, and he faced off with the Philistines at Michmash. The only two people out of about 600 men that had a sword were Saul and Jonathan because the Philistines did not allow even the sharpening of plowshares, goads, or pitchforks for fear a sword would be made against them.

Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come. Let’s go get these heathen, uncircumcised Philistines at their military post. Maybe the LORD will act on our behalf. The LORD can win a victory with a few men as well as with many.”

Then Jonathan and his man headed for their base camp. Pausing, he said, “If they say, ‘Stay where you are,’ We will stay and fight them. If they say, ‘Come up here and fight, we will go up for that is our sign from God that He has given them over to us.”

Such faith! Jonathan put his whole trust in God’s providential power just as David did against Goliath. There was a deep trust and respect for God’s will in both men. Jonathan defeated those Philistines handily, and he knew God's hand was in it.

Shared Spiritual maturity. To have a great relationship, there must be a shared spiritual maturity to be intimate with someone, the other person must have the same maturity level or greater. I can be close with a baby Christian, but when the maturity level is much higher on one side or the other, then it becomes a mentor or teacher/student relationship rather than close friendship. In a romantic dyad, if the woman is more mature, then she becomes the spiritual leader and that is just not biblical. It is excruciatingly hard on the woman to be the spiritual leader.

1 Samuel 19:1 Saul told his son Jonathan and all his officers to kill David. But Saul's son Jonathan was very fond of David, 2 so he reported to David, "My father Saul is trying to kill you. Please be careful tomorrow morning. Go into hiding, and stay out of sight.

How can you not love someone who defies filial authority to protect your life? Phileo (brotherly love) is much more common than Agape love which Jonathan exibited toward David. Jesus spoke of that kind of love when He said, “No greater love has a man for his friends that he lay down his life for them.” He was speaking of going to the cross, but we might have that kind of love for our children... but for a friend?

Shared reliability/commitment – to have a close relationship, you must be able to depend upon your friend to be there for you when you need her or him.

Jonathan told David to hide, and he would test the waters of his father’s real intentions. He spoke well of David, and secured a promise from his dad that David would not be killed. David trusted Jonathan so much he went with him back to Saul. That takes a deep, earnest trust to put yourself in someone’s hands like that.

Shared trust and respect – within any relationship we use trust tests which allow us to know whether the other person is trustworthy or not. This requires sharing private information but with a sliding scale beginning with not so private (preferred not to be shared, but not critically private) to intensely private (secret). Once those privacy boundaries are established you know whether you can proceed deeper into the relationship or hold steady.

The Bible does not record shared laughter between these two men, but there were happy days between them. Laughter is a soothing balm, and does the heart good like medicine.

Commonalities and laughter – relationships require some interests in common, and they need to have depth. If all you have to share is Saturday afternoon soccer practice, you cannot have much depth to the relationship. We must be able to laugh inside a relationship or it withers.

Shared Christianity – I have found I can’t have a really close relationship with someone who is not Christian. I am talking about sharing secrets and sharing trust.

Jonathan and David shared a deep trust in God. To me, this illustrates how God is the strong cement in any great relationship. It reminds me of what Solomon wrote: Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not easily broken.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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