"So when Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah opposite where he knew the enemy's most valiant men were."
II Samuel 11: 16
EXPLORATION "Joab Had Blood on His Hands, Too!"
"Insomuch as anyone pushes you nearer to God, he or she is your friend."
What does the word "friend" mean to me?
Are those who surround me, the kind of friends I need in my life?
What do genuine friends do in another person's life?
Do the individuals I associate with infuse my life with heavenly energy when I am around them?
INSPIRATION "I felt it shelter to speak to you."
I love the words above which were penned by my favorite poet, Emily Dickinson. I agree wholeheartedly with her sentiment that having close friends, with whom you feel you can "bare your soul" is a wonderful gift, indeed. Sadly, as author Agnes Repplier recognized in 1894 - over 100 years ago - "It is the steady and merciless increase of occupations, the augmented speed at which we are always trying to live, the crowding of each day with more work and amusement than it can profitably hold, which has cost us, among other good things, the undisturbed enjoyment of friends. Friendship takes time, and we have no time to give it."
I find this observation to be of such importance because we so loosely use the term "friendship" today. Especially in ways that demean what was once a treasured gift from above. Just think how people use "social media" to "defriend" each other. We've really fallen so low! And it is the concern about the value of real friendship which is the focus of our devotional today. So I want to take a few moments and invite us to think about what friendship means in our own lives and the way friends can influence us for good or ill.
Let's begin by going back to I Samuel 18:1(Amplified Bible) where we find, what I believe to be, heaven's formula for friendships on earth. "When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life." While some have tried falsely to portray this as some type of erotic relationship between David and Jonathan, all one has to do is take a minute and study the Hebrew and they would find that as breathing, vital creatures - human beings - Jonathan and David were bound together in purpose. The energy of their lives blended. As one definition so aptly describes this friendship, "they were in a league" with each other. They were on the same team and wanted to see the same outcome. In fact, they were on God's team - they were in league with their heavenly Creator. And this brings me to the point of how Jonathan, another hero in my opinion, brought out the best in his friend David. The Bible says that Jonathan loved David as he loved himself. Which, if we think about it, is exactly what Jesus asked His followers to do when He said, "Love others as you love yourselves." A truly unselfish, giving love. The problem is, that in a battle, while loyally fighting by the side of his father, King Saul, Jonathan died. And not only was this a loss to the nation of Israel, it was a huge loss to David. The Bible tells us that even though Jonathan knew David was anointed to be the next King of Israel, not one hint of jealousy was found in him. I believe, because Jonathan was such an excellent warrior, that had he lived, he would have been David's choice to lead the army of Israel, and what an ideal choice he would have made, for Jonathan, unlike Joab, was a man of truth. He spoke truth to David. I think that instead of being a "yes" man for the king, Jonathan, a true and loyal friend, would have called David out on his behavior and would not have been party to a plan whereby not only Uriah lost his life, but others did as well.
When David lost Jonathan, he lost not only a dear friend, he lost his moral compass when he replaced Jonathan with a person like Joab, who had no respect for the position of God's anointed for he was the one who encouraged David to kill an unsuspecting King Saul while he slept unprotected in a cave.
It's sad that after the loss of Jonathan, David surrounded himself with those who weren't his true friends, men like Joab who were looking out for their own position and power. Men who chose to get blood on their hands rather than say to the king, "This s wrong. I won't be part of this act of evil." There is a saying that a faithful friend is a strong defense and at a moment of decision, David had no defense from Joab who in the end was just as guilty as David for the murder of Uriah.
And this brings me to a critical point about our friends. Thomas Fuller wrote, "No one can lay himself under obligation to do a wrong thing. Pericles, when one of his friends asked his services in an unjust cause excused himself, saying, ‘I am friend only so far as the altar.'"
The critical choice of doing right, because it is right, becomes the key which unlocks the treasure chest of true friendship, for as we choose our friends, so we choose the good or evil which covers our own name. As we should never forget, we are often known by the company we keep.
As we think about what friendship meant in the life of David, let's never forget, "Friendship with the evil is like the shadow in the morning decreasing every hour; but friendship with the good is like the evening shadows, increasing till the sun of life sets," Johann von Herder.
"Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God's best gifts. It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one's self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another."
AFFIRMATION "‘A friend is the one who comes in when the whole world has gone out.' Even as David thanked God for Jonathan and praised him in well-remembered lines, so have we abundant reasons to thank God for friends and to resolve to keep these friendships in constant repair."
Edgar DeWitt Jones
To A Friend
"I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.
I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.
I love you for the part of me that you bring out.
I love you for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart and passing over all the foolish
and frivolous and weak things that you can't help dimly seeing there, and for drawing
out into the light all the beautiful radiant belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find.
I love you for ignoring the possibilities of the fool and weakling in me, and for laying
firm hold on the possibilities of the good in me.
I love you for closing your ears to the discords in me, and for adding to the music in me
by worshipful listening.
I love you because you are helping me to make of the timber of my life not a tavern, but a
temple, and of the words of my every day not a reproach, but a song.
I love you because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me happy.
You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign.
You have done it first by being yourself.
After all, perhaps this is what being a friend means."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at , Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
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