You Need a David and Jonathan

Part of a guy’s journey into manhood means you see things in new ways. Not that what you knew as a boy was wrong, just limited in its understanding. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about a boy becoming a man.   When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  Growing up, I was told the story of David and Goliath. It was cartoonish, almost whimsical. The song we learned made it seem like the slingshot was a fun toy. I recall asking my parents for one. Now that I have adult eyes, I see this same story in an expanded light.


Saul’s army was riddled with fear as they faced the Philistines. Goliath (the oversized warrior) came out daily to taunt the army of Israel. This went on for days, weeks. Even David’s older brothers were soldiers in Saul’s army but never faced up to Goliath.  

“And the Philistine said, “I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.” When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”  1 Samuel 17:10-11 ESV. Then, teenage David comes to the battlefront to check on his brothers. He is shocked at what he sees. 

“What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26 ESV.


David approached Goliath with courage, not fear. He was offended that someone as godless as Goliath would even defy Israel; the armies of the living God.  

We know the next part of the story. David takes five smooth stones and with the first stone, slings it at Goliath in the forehead, toppling the giant. In that attack, David rushes to Goliath and with his enemy’s sword beheads him. What 17-year-olds do you know with that kind of courage? He’s killed bears and lions who took a lamb. Surely, he can behead the enemy of the living God.

Gory Head-Brotherly Affection

What happens next is very unique.  David takes Goliath’s head to Saul. Picture David standing before the king holding Goliath’s head by his hair. Blood. Gore. While in the King’s presence, Saul’s son Jonathan was there watching this encounter between David and Saul unfold. 

As soon as he (David) had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1 Samuel 18:1 ESV

It’s Not What Some Think

There is a school of thought who thinks that Jonathan loving David was a homosexual act. That the covenant they made included a sexual union; two men together. (If that were true, and given David ended up having 8 wives over his lifetime, that would make David bisexual; which he was not.) Jonathan was anywhere between 10-25 years older than David. If David, for example, was 17, Jonathan was at least 27 to early 40s when this gory head visit to the king occurred. 

The covenant they made involved diplomatic and political connotations. Jonathan realized in David, he found someone who was on the same page regarding faith and courage; unlike his father, Saul. If I lived in a home where God was not honored, where fear ruled instead of faith, finding a fellow ally would be a sight for sore eyes! I’d welcome any kind of brotherly union I could receive.

What David and Jonathan Means to You and Me

David and Jonathan clicked. They understood each other and had mutual respect. Out of their covenant comes qualities of what we call a biblical friendship. As Saul goes crazy, obsessed with killing David (who eventually becomes his son-in-law), Jonathan demonstrates his loyalty to David over his father by helping him hide and escape the pursuit of his father.

What We Want but Rarely Find

The truth of the matter is deep in the soul of every man is a God-given hunger to be known and unconditionally loved. We want to know we are not alone, that we belong and there is at least one other soul out there who aligns with us.  David had an ally in Jonathan and as men, who claim to follow Jesus, we should intentionally engage in such brotherly bonds as well. It takes courage, risk, and a willingness to be vulnerable. No walls. No posing. No hidden agendas.

It’s Possible

Part and parcel of you and me experiencing the level and depth of manhood God designed us for means you cannot live in a box, a hideyhole; emotionally, socially, or spiritually. As you read more of David’s story in 1 Samuel, you find he is not this perfect youth I thought he was during those childhood Bible stories I learned. David struggled with infidelity, adultery, and murder. And yet, when confronted about his sin, he was quick to repent. Quick to make things right and to restore the heart of God in his soul. 

We need brothers in Christ who will get into our faces when necessary. Even kick us in the pants when we are not thinking straight; doing stupid. That is the greatest sign of brother love everyman needs. 

Brothers in Arms

Recently, my wife and I faced some unexpected health problems, including a pending surgery. This is not where we’d like to be. At times we’ve felt shocked, alone, helpless. Having to face a path we don’t want to go down. One Sunday during our church’s worship service, a brother in Christ and his wife came up to my wife and me, wrapped their arms around us, and prayed over us.  That, my friend, is exactly what you need, and need to be to other brothers in Jesus.

John Eldredge and Craig Connell

Watch this video about two men who had such a friendship. 

Killing Lions 10: The Friendships of Men

If you do not have such, now is the time to become such a man. Ask God to strip the barriers, allowing the Spirit to work in you. Who is your Jonathan?

Warrior On

David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.

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