Historical example: One of the most moving friendships in history is that of David and Jonathan in the Old Testament. Jonathan knew that his father (Saul) was a jealous and wicked man. Jonathan recognized that David, on the contrary, was God’s man. After the Lord used David to prevail over Goliath (1 Samuel 17), we see the friendship between Jonathan and David grow: “Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18:3 ESV).
Much is going on here. The two men are friends, of course, but there is a recognition by Jonathan that David is the man of God’s own choosing, the soon-to-be Old Testament king for a season, the king that God will prosper, the king who is to don the armor for war, the king who is a precursor of the Messiah-King Jesus who will come later. And look what Jonathan does as a symbol of recognizing David: “And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt” (1 Samuel 18:4 ESV).
Jonathan, Saul’s son, should have been the one to be king after wicked Saul, but God sovereignly intervened via sovereign grace. And Jonathan recognized it, and did what was right in the eyes of God. He put his trust in God’s man.
Connection to military life: In the Army, we soldiers are to follow the Army Values. For civilians who may not know them, here they are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage. The acrostic LEADERSHIP is therein promulgated. Loyalty remains central to the success of nations, of armies, of organizations, of families, but ultimately to us on the individual level and how we relate to God. The language from the Army regarding loyalty elaborates on it this way: “Bear true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit and other Soldiers.”
A Day in the Life: I was in a conversation once with a friend who was sharing some sensitive information with me that was to remain private. But an eavesdropper was nearby. And he did what eavesdroppers do: he leaned in—like a parasite—and attached himself to information that was not for him. And how long do you think it took him to share what he thought he had learned with others of his ilk? Exactly. Not long. Not long at all. To use an expression I heard and used a lot growing up in the country, in a jiffy. Why is the world like that? Because some folks love to be busybodies, to eavesdrop, to stir things up. They are like Saul—petty, jealous, insecure people.
Encouragement: Jonathan was loyal to David. David was loyal to Jonathan. Some folks are loyal only to their sin natures—like Saul. They may sport a carapace of honor but their shell will be unveiled in time, just like Saul’s was. He fell many times internally before he fell literally. Saul was loyal only to Saul, you see. And that made all the difference. How do we maintain hope? How do we know where to place our loyalty? How can we be loyal men and women ourselves? By recognizing and obeying the One who is “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11 ESV). Belief is evidenced by behavior. Jonathan recognized that David, though a very imperfect man, was nevertheless God’s man. In a world sabotaging itself daily through false kings, false friends, false flags, and Sauls of every stripe, may we be people loyal to our calling as followers of the One, the Lord Jesus, who was loyal to the end, One who “sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV).