An author told how someone said derogatory words about her early writing. Even though the writer has many books on store shelves, she said the harsh words and the accompanying unfriendly tone hang over her head like a curse. Even today, the long ago misspoken words sometimes surface to produce a fresh “word curse,” causing this godly author to doubt her calling.
It’s nearly always non-friends who utter “word curses.” Those words wound. They hurt. They last. Even though we try to slay them in our minds, they often resurrect to gouge a new gash.
Conversely, friends who champion and campaign for our good, their words can bless like no others’. We know the hearts from which they originated. We know the mettle of those true friends.
David had more than a few run-ins with non-friends, who wished him dead, all before he ever became king. Edomite Doeg plotted against him. Later, Doeg proved that evil lined his soul when he killed 85 priests, their women, children and cattle. An evil spirit had captured King Saul’s soul as well and he made at least six attempts to kill David. He hurled javelins; at night the king sent men to murder David as he slept. The king sent the shepherd boy into other hot skirmishes with the Philistines, hoping that they would do his dirty work and kill off the lad. David desperately needed a friend who would stick closer than a brother and he found him.
The one unlikely person to befriend David was King Saul’s son Jonathan. In traditional monarchies, Jonathan would stand next in line for the throne of his father. Perhaps that is why the king urged, “Jonathan and all the attendants to kill David.” Yet, Jonathan “was very fond of David and warned him” time after time of his father’s evil plots. (1 Samuel 19:1).
Even while his father pursued the anointed king David, Jonathan secretly sought out his friend with warnings and humble assurances, “You will be king over Israel, and I will be your second in command” (23:17). David and Jonathan made a covenant between their houses, vowing that they would esteem each other and their children to come after them. Eugene Peterson says that “Jonathan’s friendship entered David’s soul in a way that Saul’s hatred never did.”
This time of David’s life must have been difficult. He did good deeds and was attacked in spite of goodness. He had slain the Philistine giant, ridding Israel of the tyrant, and when King Saul had a tortured spirit, David, played soothing music. If we are confronted or attacked for doing bad, we expect that, but assaults are more painful when we are on our best behavior. At those times, we especially need a friend to come alongside us.
I haven’t had any javelins thrown at me of late but I have had a few “word curses” thrown my way over the years. That’s when I go to my longtime friend and confide in her. I rarely tell her the names of the non-friend, word-hurlers. There’s no need. I’m not looking for finger-wagging at them. I’m looking for someone to help me defuse my whining and feeling sorry for myself. She stomps out the fire of revenge. She points me to my gifts. She points me to God.
That’s what Jonathan did for David. David had a great beginning to his God-calling—anointed to be next king, slaying the over nine-foot giant (oops last week, I tagged him a mere seven foot). David’s road toward kingship started off with a bang. But then the opposition started. David could have given up, but he didn’t.
Jesus said that good-deed-doers will be persecuted. It’s the way of the world. Satan wants to make us whiners instead of winners. As this story progresses, we will see King Saul—bent on evil—in a decline. We will see David—still under attack—with a friend by his side and he will succeed.
Value friendships—word-bless and support each other—because friends keep us from fizzling out.