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  • Mariah Martin

Knitting Souls

1 Samuel 18:1-4

I went to an Enneagram workshop last Wednesday with four other women, including our very own Marcella. During that workshop the speaker asked us to turn to a partner and ask three questions.

So three separate times Marcella and I asked one another—for 2 and a half minutes, these questions:

Where to you feel love?

Where do you know security?

Where do you sense worth?

It was a powerful exercise. I want to offer you all the opportunity to think about the first question this morning.

Where do you feel love?

I will ask it three times and I want you to try to think of three different answers. It’s ok if you can’t, but at least try. You can close your eyes and take a deep breath if that helps.

Where do you feel love?

Where do you feel love?

Where do you feel love?

Now, I have a question for the men. You don’t have to answer it, just think about it. Did you ever answer this question by thinking of a male friendship? Not a relative, but a friend? If you google ‘male friendship’ you will see countless articles about how male friendships are on the decline.

The difficulty is that within our culture, male friendships are based on proximity.[1] Meaning men become friends with other men that they see on a regular basis. Like at church, on a sports team, or at work. These are not friendships built off whether you appreciate that person or if they fill a need in your life, rather that they are around a lot.

Boys learn from as early as the age of 4 that if they reveal emotions or the desire for friendship that they are at risk of being socially ostracized, thought of as ‘weird’ or labeled as “girly, immature, or (even) gay.”[2]

It is not “manly” to talk about personal matters.[3] It is safer for boys and later men to join organizations where they have an activity as a common denominator. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the friendship often solely revolves around the activity, not any of the men’s emotional needs. Men are subconsciously taught that they must conform to the group and keep their emotions to themselves.

There is no room for discussing the challenges in their lives. This leaves a lot of men feeling lonely, even if they are surrounded by other people. They end up “alone in a crowd”.

This culture of male friendship is worlds away from the friendship we see between David and Jonathan. Their friendship is passionate and emotional and vulnerable. Jonathan tells David that he will do whatever it takes to help him in his time of need. How did a friendship like this come about?

The beginning of the friendship between David and Jonathan takes place right after David has killed Goliath, in fact he is still holding the head of the Philistine giant. Gross.

Without any explanation of ‘why,’ Jonathan, for some reason, became attached to David. In a grand show of friendship and loyalty, David took of his robe, his armor, his sword, his bow, is belt, and presented all of this to Jonathan. Basically he stripped himself of all that could protect him, rendering himself vulnerable and exposed before his new friend Jonathan. The English Standard Version, King James Version, as well as various others write that the soul of Jonathan was “knit” to the soul of David.[4] I am not sure if it was there on the spot, or if time passed, but the two friends made a covenant together, “because Jonathan loved David as his own soul.”[5] “This was the first of three times that Jonathan makes a covenant with David.”[6]

It was not only Jonathan that was impressed with David, [7] David went on to be exceedingly successful in battle.So much so that Saul put him in charge over the army.

Now, some context here. Saul is the king over Israel, his reign began around 1050 B.C.[8]

The books, “First and Second Samuel deal with a transitional period in the history of ancient Israel. There is a transition of leadership first from the priest Eli to the judge Samuel, then from the judge Samuel to the king Saul, and then from Saul to David.”[9]

Saul, the king and Jonathan’s father, began to grow jealous of the way the people admire David. Women sing songs about how Saul has killed thousands, (but) David has killed ten thousands, and this makes Saul angry.[10] I guess it would be more accurate that it makes Saul livid, like bloodthirsty-out-of-his-mind, furious.

Yet Saul still allowed David to marry his daughter Michal.[11] This makes Jonathan and David brother in-laws. David is now like a son to Saul, but this doesn’t keep Saul from being threatened by David. Multiple times in the story it says that Saul was “afraid” of David. Saul begins plotting to murder David.

However, when Saul talked to Jonathan about his violent plans, Jonathan was not about to partake in his father’s plan. Because “Jonathan took great delight in David,”[12] he ran to warn David that his father was plotting against him.

Jonathan goes back to his father and tries to talk him out of killing David, telling Saul that David hasn’t sinned against him and that he has served him well, even risking his life for the sake of the kingdom of Israel. Why kill an innocent? And a helpful one at that?

And guess what? Saul listened and agreed, even swearing that he wouldn’t kill David. Then Jonathan ran back to tell David of the good news. Things were fine, for a while, but then David had to go and be brave in war again. This re-ignited Saul’s murderous rage and he tried to kill David, but with Michal’s help, David escaped and ran.[13]

On the run, David met up with Jonathan, asking him what he had done wrong to incur Saul’s wrath?[14] Jonathan assures David that he has done nothing wrong and that he will know if Saul plots against him again. Jonathan is committed to David’s safety, willing to do whatever it takes to keep David alive. He says, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.”[15] Jonathan and David come up with an elaborate plan involving shooting arrows to warn David of Saul’s true intentions.

They make their second covenant together, promising that if Jonathan remains alive, then David will “show him the faithful love of the Lord” but if he dies, David will “never cut off (his) faithful love from (Jonathan’s) house”. Jonathan made David swear on his love for him, for “he loved him as he loved his own life.”[16]

Saul was not happy when he learned of David’s escape so he literally tried to shoot the messenger, or rather spear the messenger, his own son. Again, Saul was not successful at his attempt to murder, and Jonathan left, refusing to eat anything because he was filled with sorrow for David.

In the morning Jonathan and David met in a field, knowing that David must leave if he wants to remain alive, David bowed three times before Jonathan. Then they kissed each other and cried, David crying even harder than Jonathan.

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace. For we have promised each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will be between me and you, and between me and my children and our children forever.’”[17] Then David left.

The last time we hear about Jonathan and David is later in chapter 23. David has run to the hill country in the desert of Ziph and Jonathan goes to meet him. This is where they made their final covenant together. Jonathan promises that Saul won’t find David and that David will be the king of Israel with Jonathan at his side. Then Jonathan went home.[18] Sadly, Jonathan is killed with two of his brothers while warring with the Philistines.

In 2 Samuel we hear David lament his slain friend: “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.”[19]

Thus ends the friendship of David and Jonathan. David lives up to his covenant to Jonathan to love his descendants…sometimes.[20] David is notorious for vacillating between making good choices and making disastrous, violent, even cruel choices.

However, while we hear less about Jonathan, everything we do hear about him is rooted in loyalty, friendship, and love. He wants what is best for David, even risking his relationship with his volatile father. Jonathan loves radically, no matter the consequences.[21]

I am also moved by how David wept with Jonathan, crying even harder than his friend who loves him unconditionally. Jonathan and David don’t seem afraid to reveal their fears and their vulnerabilities. They openly show emotion and love.

How would our world be different if men were allowed to be so openly affectionate and emotional with their male friends?

Like Jonathan, let’s give one another space to weep openly, to be themselves without fear that they will be made fun of. Lets give one another the benefit of the doubt and strive to look for their strengths. To celebrate the ways they shine, to encourage, and praise them when they live into their best selves.

Maybe our job as a community in Christ, (a man who also modeled the beauty of intimate male friendships as well as someone who openly displayed emotion, even weeping)…

Maybe our job is to create a safe space for our men to craft relationships, not solely based on the fact that they see one another regularly, but based on a true validation of the way that each of our men are unique, emotional, beautiful human beings?

If we can at least allow men to be themselves with one another like David and Jonathan, then maybe we can begin to live as a community after God’s own heart.

Maybe David’s strength was not in the numbers of men he killed, or the fact that he slayed a giant with a slingshot or his cunning political strategies. Maybe his strength was in his deep love for his friend Jonathan. Maybe his strength was in his willingness to show the raw fear-for-his life that he felt. Maybe his strength was his ardent display of affection for his brother in-law.

So men, strip off your armor. You don’t need it here.

If David, the great Israelite warrior and Jonathan, the son of a king, can lay down their defenses, strip away all pretenses of being tough and manly, and truly care for one another in deeply vulnerable ways, then maybe you can too.

Men of Bonneyville, we see you. We see you for who you are—and you matter to this community. Not just for the way you contribute and help and provide. We love you, not for what you do for us, but because you are God’s child. Unique and beautiful.

Men of Bonneyville, in this sanctuary you are allowed to cry. You are safe. You can show emotion without being teased or called names. Your vulnerability is your strength.

Men of Bonneyville, knit your souls to one another and maybe you won’t have to worry about feeling alone in a crowd. We are here for you and we support you, and we empower you to allow yourselves to be deeply seen, weeping and all.

My prayer for you is that if someone ever asks you where you feel love, that you will think of this community, especially of your brothers in Christ. and KNOW that you are deeply loved

So men, get out your knitting needles, it’s time to do some soul work.


Work Consulted

“David and Jonathan.” In Wikipedia, August 25, 2019.

“Introduction to 1–2 Samuel | ESV.Org.” Accessed September 7, 2019.

Jonathan’s Gift of Friendship Patricia K. Tull

[1] “Why Men’s Friendships Can Feel

Image from:

So EMPTY - Mark Greene - Medium.” Accessed September 7, 2019.

[2] Ibid, Greene.

[3] “The Challenges of Male Friendships - The New York Times.” Accessed September 7, 2019.

[4] Other versions say bound, or that they were “one” in spirit.

[5] 1 Samuel 18:3

[6] Tull, Patricia K. “Jonathan’s Gift of Friendship.” Interpretation 58, no. 2 (April 2004): 130–43.

[7] The NRSV says in verse 5, “And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.”

[8] “Introduction to 1–2 Samuel | ESV.Org.” Accessed September 7, 2019.

[9] Ibid, ESV.Org.

[10] 1 Samuel 18:6,8

[11] Verse 20 says that Michal loved David, which is—fun fact—I believe the only time in the Bible where it says that a woman loved a man.

[12] 1 Samuel 19:1

[13] Michal not only lowered David out of his window so he could run for his life, but tricked Saul’s messengers into believing that the idol with goat hair on its head, was David, sick and sleeping.

[14] 1 Samuel 20:1

[15] 1 Samuel 20:4

[16] 1 Samuel 20:14-17

[17] 1 Samuel 20:42

[18] 1 Samuel 23:16-18

[19] 2 Samuel 17:25, 26

[20] Three times we hear that David intends to “show kindness (to Jonathan’s son) for Jonathan’s sake”. But he also wages war on other members of Saul/Jonathan’s family, even allowing seven of Jonathan’s kinsmen to be slaughtered.

[21] Some have called Jonathan naive, saying that David took advantage of his loyal nature to gain a political ally. Yet I want to give both the benefit of the doubt. I find Jonathan’s devotion beautiful

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