May 12, 2020 • Written by Heidi Scott
Divisions in our culture seem like they are at an all-time high. The media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out conflicting beliefs, ideas, and data. Even the experts in science and medicine can’t seem to agree. One look at social media reveals how dicey communication is right now. Friends are unfriending. Family members aren’t speaking. Comment spaces are getting nasty. Sprinkled all over with shaming and blaming.
But is this really a new phenomenon? Breakdowns in family and community relationships go back generations. Our world has seen plenty of wars, natural disasters, plagues, famine and floods. Add a media frenzy and instant sharing to the current pandemic and you get the strident tone we have today.
We all say thoughtless, hurtful things sometimes. It’s easy to let emotions reign, especially when friends are fighting or choose the other side of an issue. If anyone had a right to feel slighted and torn between two sides, it was Saul’s son Jonathan. On the one side, he had his papa, the king of Israel. Ancient culture demanded fierce family loyalty above everything else. And let’s not forget as first born, Prince Jonathan was supposed to be heir to the throne. On the other side, his BFF David. 1 Samuel 18 tells us that Jonathan made a covenant with David, a binding promise of friendship. We read later that David loved Jonathan like a brother. These bros were tight.
Tensions rise as God’s plan for David to be the next king becomes apparent. In a jealous rage, King Saul commands Jonathan to kill his friend David. Now that’s cause for a pandemic-level panic! What side to choose? His dad and a future for himself as king? Or his BFF who was God’s anointed? Here’s the important part of the story: Jonathan’s allegiance was to God and His ways.
In choosing God, Jonathan rose above the external conflicts and pushy influences. Even as Saul murderously pursued David, Jonathan helped his friend escape. When David fled to the hills and was at a breaking point physically and emotionally, Jonathan went to his aid. 1 Samuel 23:16 says that Jonathan helped David find strength in God and affirmed God’s plan for him. After encouraging him, Jonathan made another friendship promise with David.
Don’t think that by choosing God, Jonathan completely turned his back on his father. He continued to honor Saul, fighting alongside him in a battle that would take his life. Jonathan’s example of seeking God in the midst of conflict is an example for us today. When we are tempted to choose sides or answer shrill voices, let’s take a breath and pray before we respond. God answers our prayers for wisdom and He loves it when we ask. Pause and pray. Be kind. Show respect.