David Chapter 5: Mind Your Friends

There are friends and there are friends. Turns out the guy David thought was his best friend was a massive disappointment. He was a betrayer. They had grown up together in a rough neighborhood. Both made it out of the ghetto and made it big.This is what David wrote about the guy in his blog: “This isn’t the neighborhood bully mocking me – I could take that. This isn’t a foreign devil spitting invective ­– I could tune that out. It’s YOU! We grew up together! YOU! My best friend! Those long hours of leisure as we walked arm in arm, God a third party to our conversation…” Psalm 55:12-14 MSG. He couldn’t believe what that guy did to him. Not that he didn’t have other detractors. You don’t make it big without detractors: “My enemies are wishing the worst for me; they make bets on what day I will die. If someone comes to see me he mouths empty platitudes, all the while gathering gossip about me to entertain street-corner crowd. These “friends” who hate me whisper slanders all over town. They form committees to plan misery for me.” Psalm 41:4-7 MSG. He probably wrote this at the time of Absalom’s insurrection. People were so horrible they even circulated a rumor he had AIDS or some STD (sexually transmitted disease) – “The rumor goes out, ‘He’s got some dirty, deadly disease. The doctors have given up on him.’” Psalm 41:8 MSG

We make mistakes about friendship. Most of us don’t know what true friendship is. We imagine a friend is someone we hang out with, or someone we “friended” on Facebook. But if he’s spreading rumors about you he can’t be a friend. A friend doesn’t spread vicious rumors. If she’s sharing your confidences she can’t be a friend either. A friend doesn’t share confidences. Neither will a friend backbite. Know your true friends.

But as bad as those things are however this particular guy was beyond the pale. Look at what David wrote: “Even my best friend, the one I always told everything – he ate meals at my house all the time! – has bitten my hand.” Psalm 41:8-9 MSG. Please note that statement. Jesus would later quote it. The sad thing was, David was actually sick when those rumors were being circulated. So the rumours had fake credibility. They were believable.

The friend David was referring to was a guy named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was the uber consultant and strategist to kings and governments. Extremely brilliant fellow. He was like a god. He was an adviser to David but he turned against him during the coup by Absalom. Well, the guy was a literary template for Judas. Jesus referenced him in describing Judas. This is how that came about. Jesus had just finished washing the feet of the apostles to demonstrate servant leadership – “If the Master and Teacher washed your feet, you must now wash each other’s feet…” John 13:14-15 MSG. But then he says, “I am not saying these things to all of you; I know the ones I’ve chosen. But this fulfills the scripture that says, “The one who eats my food has turned against me… I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” John 13:18-21

Contrast all these with David’s friendship with Prince Jonathan, Saul’s heir apparent. That must have been some complicated situation. Saul was trying to eliminate David, ostensibly to preserve the throne for Jonathan. Jonathan and David met right after David killed Goliath. Jonathan was a young officer and brilliant soldier. He admired David’s guts. He himself had defeated a garrison of Philistines at Geba. 1 Samuel 13:3. He was a really cool guy. Not overly ambitious, very noble. He didn’t place his personal ambition above the good of the nation. He had a fall out with his dad over David. His dad had sought his help to eliminate David, but he refused. To which his increasingly unstable dad rained profanities on him: “You son of a slut! Don’t you think I know you’re cahoots with the son of Jesse, disgracing both you and your mother? As long as the son of Jesse is walking around free on this earth your future in this kingdom is at risk. Now go get him. Bring him here. From this moment, he’s as good as dead!” 1 Samuel 20:30-31. At this time the constitutional question of succession hadn’t been settled. The unwritten constitution of the kingdom was untested. The kingdom was young. Saul was the first king. Was the succession going to be hereditary or would it be merit-based? Nobody knew. Jonathan felt David was the more brilliant of the two and should be king. He would be Vice President. 1 Samuel 23:17. In other words he believed in meritocracy. The resolution of the constitutional question would eventually play out in the seven-year war of attrition between the house of David and the survivors of the house of Saul. Jonathan had died in battle, along with his brothers and his father. That was tough on David. He composed an elegy which he released on social media. 2 Samuel 1:17-18. He called Jonathan his brother and mighty warrior. 2 Samuel 1:19-27. That was one heck of a friendship.

But here’s the real deal: David remained loyal to Jonathan even after death. After he mounted the throne he sought out Saul’s descendants – “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family? If so, I’d like to show him some kindness in honor of Jonathan.” 2 Samuel 9:1. Turns out the only survivor was a cripple named Mephibosheth, and he was actually Jonathan’s son! David brought him to live in the palace complex and restored all his grandfather’s properties to him. 2 Samuel 9:7. The guy couldn’t believe his luck. He actually thought David wanted to kill him. That’s a new bar of loyalty – loyalty to the dead. Fides mortua est.

What type of friend are you? Are you a loyal friend?

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com.

There are friends and there are friends. Click To Tweet If he’s spreading rumors about you he can’t be a friend. A friend doesn’t spread vicious rumors. Click To Tweet A friend doesn’t share confidences. Neither will a friend backbite. Know your true friends. Click To Tweet That’s a new bar of loyalty – loyalty to the dead. Fides mortua est. Click To Tweet What type of friend are you? Are you a loyal friend? Click To Tweet