What Kind of Friend Are You?

 “Here, Caroline, stand on this so you can reach. That way, I can use the chair.” 

These were not the words I wanted to overhear when I discovered my 3-1/2-year-old granddaughter and her 1-1/2-year old sister playing alone in my office. As I peered around the corner, I had no idea what they were up to. 

Friendships, like the one between my two granddaughters, can be positive or negative. The relationship between David and Jonathan, described in 1 Samuel 20, is a classic example of a positive, godly friendship. 

The men shared wise counsel, protection, and possessions. First Samuel 18:4 records that Jonathan loved David so much he gave him his robe, tunic, sword, and belt. Men sharing tools and weapons? Now that’s a deep friendship. 

Jonathan repeatedly defended David at the risk of angering his father, King Saul, and endangering his own life. Although it would ultimately cost him his position as next in line to the throne, he affirmed David’s calling to the kingship and pledged his loyalty. Most important of all, the men encouraged each other in the faith. 

“May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father,” Jonathan said, blessing David (1 Sam. 20:13). 

Second Samuel 13 records another, very different story of friendship, this one between King David’s son Amnon and his cousin Jonadab. Scripture tells us that Jonadab was “a very shrewd man.” Now shrewd can be good, but in this case, shrewd was bad. 

Amnon had a problem. A big problem. He had a major crush on his half-sister, Tamar. Amnon was so besotted with Tamar that he couldn’t eat or sleep. This obsession began to take a toll on Amnon, to the point where his good friend Jonadab noticed. 

“What in the world is wrong with you?” he asked. “You look awful.” 

Frustrated and beside himself, Amnon confessed his infatuation with his half-sister. If Jonadab had been a godly friend, he would have called Amnon onto the carpet. 

Are you crazy, Amnon? The sun must have baked that brain of yours. Too many camel rides in the desert. Put that ridiculous notion out of your head, and let’s talk sense for a moment. I know she’s beautiful, but she’s your sister. And have you noticed? She’s your SISTER. And if that’s not reason enough, did I mention that she’s YOUR SISTER????"

Instead, Jonadab failed in his friendship and helped Amnon devise a horrible plan. Playing on his father’s trust and his sister’s kind nature, Amnon lured Tamar into his bedchamber, overpowered her, and raped her. 

As quickly as Amnon’s lust had flared, his “love” for Tamar disappeared, and he sent her from his house in disgrace. Tamar never recovered, spending the rest of her life “a desolate woman.” 

The tragic events of 2 Samuel 13 describe a friendship that had the power to prevent a horrible, heinous crime. Instead, it set in motion a series of events that left Tamar destroyed, Amnon dead, and Absalom, Tamar’s brother, guilty of murder. 

In light of these conflicting stories of friendship, we would be wise to examine what type of friend we are. 

Do we demonstrate loyalty, courage, and humility toward our friends? Do we speak up for them even when it costs us something? Are we more concerned about their successes than our own? Do we share sacrificially and generously? Are we brave enough to warn them when we see them walking a destructive path? 

Then we are the type of friend with whom God is pleased. 

Perhaps, however, we haven’t been a Jonathan-type friend. Maybe we’ve been more like Jonadab. 

We’ve dismissed the warning signs that something’s not right. Instead of holding our friend accountable to God’s standards, we’ve looked the other way. Or worse yet, we’ve partnered with them in activities that dishonor others and the Lord. Instead of a rock of refuge, we’ve been a stumbling block. 

My granddaughters' visit and the contrasting stories from 2 Samuel remind me of the joy and the responsibilities of friendship. 

As I peeked around the doorway where the girls were playing, I discovered that big sister Lauren had helped little sister Caroline reach the desktop where she was happily scribbling on a Post It note. Lauren was sitting in front of my antique typewriter happily pecking away. Their friendship and camaraderie was sweet and innocent. 

Today is a new day, filled with many opportunities to be a positive force for good in this troubled world. As we interact with the friends God has brought into our lives, may we be quick to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). 

Now it’s your turn. Do you have a special friend who has faithfully encouraged you to make wise decisions and stay true to the faith? Leave a comment below and tell us about them. 

For a little musical encouragement, I know you'll enjoy the song, "Prayer for a Friend," by Casting Crowns. If you're reading by email, click here to listen to "Prayer for a Friend."


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