New Friends

New Beginning  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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How can we discern the difference between real friends and fake friends? As we explore the contrast of Jonathan and Saul's relationship with David, we will unfold the secret to lasting friendships.

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*Bring kings piece
Good morning Ironbridge Family, if you are new to our community, my name is Zach. I have the privilege of serving Ironbridge as the Pastor of Students and Young Adults.
When I use the word, family, in association with Ironbridge. I do not do so lightly. My blood family lives in Peru and Memphis. I do not get to see them often. After, the birth of our son, my blood family had a brief window to be with him. But when they were gone, it was you who dropped off food. It was you who gave us diapers. It was you who committed to pray. It was you who subbed in as family. We are grateful for this genuine familial love.
But scripture speaks of another love, the love of friendship. And occasionally, this love is even stronger than family bonds. After all, your family is chosen for you, but you choose your friends.
Proverbs 18:24 “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”
closer. than. a. brother. Wow.
Now, it is no surprise that we are experiencing a loneliness pandemic.
Alan McGinnis in his book, The Friendship Factor... "America's leading psychologists and therapists estimate that only 10 percent of all men ever have any real friends."
Women, is it much better for ya’ll?
In the story of creation, God declared that everything is good. Until we came to the first “not good”. Genesis 2:18 “It is not good that the man should be alone”
Instinctively, we know this to be true. Even the business sector they pass out, “how to win friends and influence people.” like it is a sacred text.
In the rush and scurry for more friends, many of us slip into an equal danger to loneliness. In our desperation, we lose discernment and choose the wrong friends.
If you want to start this new year on the right path, we will need to learn how to discern the right friends.
Let’s play a game.
Real vs. Fake Images: On the screen we are going to reveal a series of images. See if you can decide which items are real and which items are fake.
Girl with a pearl earing: The right painting is the real one. What gives it away is that the earing appears to be dangling from her ear rather than being directly attached.
Rolex watch: through the eye test alone, it cannot be discerned witch of the Rolex watches is real or fake. For this item, other senses may be required: sound and touch. If the watch is ticking, it is not a real Rolex. The mechanical movement that powers Rolex watches is self winding. Finally, Rolex watches are made of quality materials and do not include any plastic or aluminum. It is likely that the heavier of the two is the real one.
Chanel classic bags: while we cannot see the finer details of these bags, one feature gives us assurance that both of these lucky ladies own real bags. The diamonds. On the classic bags the full diamonds will be equal in proportion and perfectly aligned. Experts suggest paying close attention to the bag in closed form, because the diamonds on the upper flap will perfectly align with the lower part and back pocket.
Now, that our discernment has heightened, don’t spend this sermon staring at your neighbors purse to see if it’s a fake…
To have confidence if these items were valuable or fake, you needed to be given knowledge to heighten your discernment. The same is true for our friendships.
Proverbs 13:20 “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.”
We need God’s truth to teach us who we should befriend. Today’s text, is up for the task
As we explore the wild story of Jonathan and David’s friendship, we will learn three ways how to discern between real and fake friends.
Real friends commit to you. Fake friends control you.
The event’s leading up to 1 Samuel 18 were not favorable for Isreal. They were in a constant battle with the Philistines. Their low moral was only matched by their low numbers in battle. To make matters worse, their handsome King Saul was a handful of selfishness and cowardice behavior. Fortunately, his son, Jonathan was not a man after his Father’s weak heart. In one scene described in Chapter 14, Jonathan single handedly defeated a group of Philistine soldiers through a sword and the Spirit of God. He was a mans man and a man of faith. But he was also a lonely man. It seemed as though no one shared his spirit of faith and fearlessness. Until, David showed up.
I wonder what Jonathan felt in his chest as he heard these words echo across the battle field from the young shepherd boy facing his giant,
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.”
David’s words proved to be prophetic and this is the scene that unfolded as he entered back into the king’s tent with the enemies head.
1 Samuel 18:1-4 As soon as 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.
This was friendship at first site. At last, Jonathan found a man who shared his faith in God. Without even a word between the two, their souls were knit as Jonathan saw a man who’s heart burned with the same fire.
Do you have a friend who shares your soul?
It’s enriching to have friends who share the same mind. It’s engaging to agree in ideas and opinions.
It’s unifying to have friendships who share the same passions of the hands. Some of my most longstanding relationships are because of shared hobbies, quality time, and mutual interest in sports.
But their is a level of friend that goes deeper than blood. The friend who shares your heart.
In school you may friend friends with whom you love to play sports. At work, you may have friends who are likeminded in what they think. But only at church, in our bridge groups and Christian community, can we find friends with whom we share our soul. Because at church we connect with others who have the same Holy Spirit.
Are you connected? Do you have friends with whom your soul is knitted? It will not happen sitting in a seat. You must join a group to experience this level of life connection.
Sadly, while Jonathan began to love David as himself, there was another who wanted to place David under himself.
And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house.
Jonathan committed to David. Saul sought to control David. Jonathan saw David’s victory and wanted to help him thrive. Saul saw David’s victory and saw him as a threat that needed to be suppressed. Saul forced David to become an servant. Jonathan desired to make David royalty.
Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul.
The Lexham Bible Dictionary explains that covenant language, “reflects its futuristic character as “a story in search of an ending.” One word can be added to improve that definition, “a story in search of a promised ending.” Like wedding vows that promise faithfulness no matter how the story unfolds, at first meeting, Jonathan and David make friendship commitments to one another and 1 Samuel 20:42 explains the content of this covenant “ ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’ ”
This is an incredible commitment considering how bad of a deal this seemed to be for Jonathan. Jonathan’s family is royalty. David’s family watches sheep. Jonathan is the firstborn son and next in line to be king. David is the last born overlooked by his own brothers. And yet, though seemingly no one else could see who David could become, Jonathan did. And he proved this belief through action.
And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.
Royalty in ancient cultures were often identified by their clothing. To clothe a commoner in the royal attire would have been the highest honor for a member of the kingdom to receive.
Imagine the stunning scene that unfolded in the tent that dusty afternoon. Prince Jonathan, in his undergarments. David clothed in royalty. Likely still bloody and sweaty from battle, now clothed in honor.
At this moment, David had only achieved one win. But, Jonathan saw in David what David could not see in himself, a king. A the kingly attire that Jonathan clothed David in was his to wear. But Jonathan didn’t care. One commentator wrote, “They loved each other more than the throne of Israel because they loved the LORD more than the throne of Israel.”
We saw this in action as a church last week. Michael is a new pastor with a gift of teaching. He could easily, leverage the pulpit as a shopwindow to display his own strengths. Instead, he shares the stage and an opportunity to strengthen the gifts of young men like Nelson. In doing so, he communicates to men like Nelson, I see royalty in you, I see ability, and I am willing to sacrifice my comforts to call out the abilities that are within you.
In Christ, we are son’s and daughter’s of the king. We are royalty. Be a friend who clothes others in nobility. And cherish friends who surrender their comforts to encourage you.
I am for you vs. I can use you: My grandfather, Pawpaw JD was a talkative fellow. The kind you don’t want to get stuck in the elevator with because he’d follow you all the way to your room with a fresh story. Perhaps, because of this quality, his funeral was my favorite to ever attend. At his funeral, the pastor described a moment when he was a youth who got trapped by Pawpaw JD. He was leading production for the service and was running late. Heart beating, he rushed towards the sanctuary that could not begin without him. To his horror, there was one person who remained lingering in the hallway, Papaw JD. He tried to evade the old man, but like a left tackle blocking the QB, JD’s big body was blocking the entrance. With his fast farmer hands, JD grabbed the young man, looked him in the eyes, and said four words: I am for you. That young man went on to become the pastor of the church.
When Jordan and I were considering blessings we can use in my son Levi Jesse’s life, we were inspired by the story of his namesake. Though he hasn’t accomplished anything (other than a few good poo’s), though I have no way of knowing who he will become, each night before he falls asleep Levi Jesse hears these for words: I am for you.
Real friends commit to you. Fake friends seek to control you. Do you friends say, “I am for you” or “I can use you”?
"To love a person means to see him as God intended him to be." - Dostoyevsky
And the difference between how Jonathan viewed David vs. Saul’s perspective unveils the next truth...
Real friends see you as valuable. Fake friends see you as expendable.
The royalty Jonathan saw in David began to unfold as his victories and fame multiplied. In a flurry of excitement, the women of Israel crafted a song for him,
1 Samuel 18:7-9 “And the women sang to one another as they celebrated, “Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him.... Saul eyed David from that day on.”
Fake friends have their eye on you. Not to support you, but to surpass you.
One way to have discernment about whether or not you are being a true friend is how you react to the other party’s success. As you scroll through instagram to you have your eye on others out of displeasure and jealousy? If so, be careful that you do not develop the spirit of Saul. A spirit that took him to the edge of extreme hatred.
1 Samuel 19:1-7 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself. And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where you are, and I will speak to my father about you. And if I learn anything I will tell you.”
To go against his father’s wishes was bold. To go against the kings wishes was dangerous.
Jonathan was able to overcome the sway of killing David not only because he was loyal to his friend, but he was loyal to God.
He had the most to gain from David’s disposal. David posed an imminent threat to Jonathan’s future career and fame. But Jonathan didn’t care about fame, in fact, his care for David was so strong that it eclipsed his desire to shine.
How can you have this type of selfless love for others? When you can look good by joining in on the gossip, your loyalty to your friend will not be enough. You must have security in Jesus. Security that makes you selfless. Security that helps you to stand up to those who are fake friends.
And Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul his father and said to him, “Let not the king sin against his servant David, because he has not sinned against you, and because his deeds have brought good to you. For he took his life in his hand and he struck down the Philistine, and the Lord worked a great salvation for all Israel. You saw it, and rejoiced. Why then will you sin against innocent blood by killing David without cause?” And Saul listened to the voice of Jonathan.
Jonathan faced a choice that day. He could remain safe by staying silent, but this would place David in danger. Or he could place himself in danger, by speaking up. By choosing the later, he saved David that day.
Jesus once said, John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
Each day you have the opportunity to lay down your life for your friends.
Lay down your pride by refusing to gossip.
Lay down your comfort by sitting with the uncomfortable.
Lay down your control by letting someone else pick the movie.
Lay down your resources by giving time to others.
Because Saul viewed David as expendable, it was Jonathan who proved to have the true power to pursuade by sided with God’s view of David as valuable. Each one of us has that power in our grasp this week, how will you use it?
The Kings Piece: Around 5 years ago, my friend Kyle came into work with a smile and something behind his back. It was a chess piece. He had the idea to give the King to one another every time we noticed something exceptional or noble in the other.
For years, it has been fun to give this king to a friend who I admire.
Instead of comparing our accomplishments against one another, let’s search for opportunities to praise and encourage our fellow friends.
What are you doing to show your friends that they are valuable, not expendable?
Saul swore, “As the Lord lives, he shall not be put to death.” And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan reported to him all these things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence as before.
Sadly, Jonathan’s persuasion to spare David was fleeting in the heart of Saul. Though Saul committed to protect David’s in the name of the Lord, one only has to read a few more sentences to uncover Saul’s attempt to pin David to the wall with his spear.
Imagine the spirit of revenge that David could have developed towards anything associated with Saul.
Instead, we will discover in our final truth, that David’s love for Jonathan was so strong that it bled into mercy towards Saul himself.
Real friends are trustworthy. Fake friends are treacherous.
(Prior to coming to Ironbridge, I was employed at a Christian university under the office of spiritual development. This university has many strengths, but they are infamous for not paying their employees well. Feeling the sting of this negative attribute, I couldn’t get over the fact that their was an older employee who was a full-time prayer coordinator. In my young pride I thought, “Shouldn’t we all be praying? Do we really need to pay an employee to help people pray? Can’t we leverage this money better? The school has enough to send off this gentleman with a sweet retirement.” What I was really saying is, “why can’t my salary be higher?!” One day I was walking with the Executive Director of my office and asked him about this Elderly Prayer Coordinator.
My Executive Director was no fool. He saw through my question, a treacherous heart of envy and a lack of gratitude. He used the rest of the walk to share the prayer coordinators story. A story that humbled me to the dirt.
When the prayer coordinator was young, he was a traveling evangelist who spoke to thousands. Tragically, he experienced a car crash that damaged his brain and sent the course of his life into tailspin.
The school prayed for his survival and when he recovered from the hospital not only did the founder of the university ask him to speak at graduation, but he also promised that he young evangelist would always have a job secured at the university. Though the founder passed away several decades ago, the old man in the back of the prayer chapel had that seat as a fulfillment of promise between two friends. As my executive director concluded the story, he looked me in the eyes and said, “As long as I am a leader here, that promise will remain true.”
My spirit of jealousy was treacherous. My directors spirit of care was trustworthy.)
In our final scene, David alone remains. Both Saul and Jonathan died in battle and with them two dreams died unfulfilled.
Saul’s dream, to silence David through death, was denied by God’s sovereign protection.
Jonathan’s dream was described in 1 Samuel 23:17 “You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you.”
After the death of Saul, David was made king, but Jonathan’s dream to rule alongside David was never fulfilled. How will David react to the family of Saul? Since Jonathan has died, did the covenant die with him?
In 2 Samuel 9 we discover the true heart of David for his friend.
2 Samuel 9 And David said, “Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” Now there was a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and they called him to David. And the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?” And he said, “I am your servant.” And the king said, “Is there not still someone of the house of Saul, that I may show the kindness of God to him?” Ziba said to the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in his feet.”
It was common in ancient cultures for new rulers to dispose of their predecessors line by executing them. This bold act would cleanse the kingdom of any potential threat to the throne.
When Ziba describes the son of Jonathan as crippled in his feet, it may have been to protect Jonathan’s son from this practice. It’s as if he was saying, “David, this man is incapable of going to battle and leading this nation. He poses no threat. Let him go.” But David, would not let him go because, he had not let his love for Jonathan go.
The king said to him, “Where is he?” And Ziba said to the king, “He is in the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar.” Then King David sent and brought him from the house of Machir the son of Ammiel, at Lo-debar. And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage.
Mephiboseth was born to be the son of a king, but because of the sins of his grandfather, Saul, he found himself in the setting of shame. Lo-debar was a considerable distance from Jerusalem, where he belonged. The name Lo-debar means “no pasture”. The later of half of his name “boshet” translates to “shame”. How did he find himself in a place of no hope, hiding, and shame?
When he was born, he was full of health and hope. But at the news of the death of King Saul this scene unfolded: 2 Samuel 4:4 “He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel, and his nurse took him up and fled, and as she fled in her haste, he fell and became lame. And his name was Mephibosheth.”
Because of the moral fall of King Saul, Mephiboseth had a literal fall as his nurse fled in fear. Now as the king approaches, for all he knows to execute him, he falls at his feet a pleads for mercy.
And David said, “Mephibosheth!” He calls him by his name. And he answered, “Behold, I am your servant.” And David said to him, “Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.” And he paid homage and said, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?”
In ancient Israel dogs were dirty scavengers. In comparison to the glory of the King, Mephibosheth views himself lower than a dog. He describes himself as a “dead dog.”
“David, why will you treat me as a son, when I have nothing to offer you but shame?” One answer, “I will show you kindness”. The word “kindness” in Hebrew is Hesed. A word that is often translated in English as loving-kindness. It is a verb that surpasses both kindness and love. One commentary described it as “loyal love”
Mephibosheth is right, he doesn’t deserve the regard of grace that David is bestowing upon him. He is the grandson of the enemy. He is the line of the jealous king who sought to control David. The king who tried to kill him because he saw him as expendable.
But David, refused to replicate this spirit of revenge. He refused to be the treacherous friend who failed to keep his covenant with Jonathan.
How can David be so motivated by loyal love that he will treat the enemies grandson like royalty? Because there was a friend who saw a shepherd boy and did everything in his power to make him royalty.
Then the king called Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, “All that belonged to Saul and to all his house I have given to your master’s grandson.”... So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table, like one of the king’s sons....
David replaced Mephiboseth’s emptiness with an inheritance. David replaced his shame with dignity. For as he sat at the table, he sat equal to all of the kings sons. And though Jonathan’s dream of sitting next to David died as he fell on the battle field. David’s commitment to Jonathan lived on as Mephibosheth sat in the kings presence forever.
Perhaps as you have been listening to this message you have been evaluating your friendships and considering one’s that may need to change. But have you considered whether you are a good friend?
Sadly, we often have the spirit of Saul towards others.
We are controlling. Rather than saying, “I am for you”. We think, “how can I use you.”
We view others as expendable. Proven by the jealousy we feel when others experience success.
We are treacherous rather than trustworthy. We often seek revenge rather than reconciliation.
How can we become real friends towards those around us?
Similar to Mephiboseth, we were made to be royalty, but we have experienced the fall of our sin. We are living in a land of no hope. Our lives have been a story of shame that makes us want to hide from God. BUT GOD. Because of his loving kindness, came to us. He sent us Jesus. Who called us by name. He took our shame upon himself as he died on the cross so that we could be clothed in his royal righteousness. He rose from the dead and God offers forgiveness to all because of Jesus’ sake. And to all who believe in him, though we are broken, we have a seat at the kings table. We are considered sons. We are made royalty.
If this is your story, then you, like David, like Jonathan, can be committed. See others as valuable, though they see themselves as dead dogs. And prove to be trustworthy, because you have trusted in the one who’s loving kindness in relentless in loyalty towards you.
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