"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
David and Jonathan were very close friends. The Bible tells us that Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. Jonathan was the son of Saul, the first king of Israel, and Saul had become bitterly angry and jealous over David's victories, beginning with his defeat of Goliath. Eventually Saul sought to kill him, but Jonathan warned David and he fled.
Jonathan knew the sun was setting on his father’s reign and was rising on David. The part of their friendship that ran the deepest is revealed in 1 Samuel 23:16, which says, "And Saul's son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God." He did not boost David’s confidence with half-hearted assurances or strategic ploys to win the favour of his father. Jonathan knew God was with David and encouraged him in that. Helping a friend find strength in God is a wonderful consequence of true friendship.
David spent more than a decade on the run from Saul, hiding out in caves and desert hills. Many of his Psalms were written while in hiding, and express the strength David drew from God. In Psalm 16:1, he writes, "Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge" Psalm 16:8, "I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 18:2, "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." These psalms were given to us not only so that we may find strength and courage in God, but that we pass it on.
We all have had friends and may still have friends who are struggling in extremely difficult situations. We can offer them all kinds of practical, emotional, financial and psychological help, but unless we are leading them to find strength in God, we may be helping them with a temporary fix, but with no lasting effect. The best tool we have, the best advice we can give is to help them find strength in God.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Romans 15:4). How are we helping our friends? The greatest contribution we can make to anyone in their time of need is to leave them with something of Christ. If they are receptive, God will do a work in their hearts. Through faith in Him, they will discover Christ is their stronghold, their shield, their fortress and their deliverer.