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There are two contrasting examples of friendship in the Bible. One is of Job and his three friends, and the other of David and Jonathan. The old proverbial saying is "a friend in need is a friend indeed." We can examine both examples, when both Job and David underwent adversity, and discover the nature of true friendship.

Job lost his health, his children, and almost everything he owned. He even lost the support of his wife, who advised him to "curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Despite Job's almost unbearable circumstances, he also had to deal with the emotional harassment of his three friends' condemnation. Zophar, Eliphaz and Bildad told Job he must have committed some sin as the cause for all the calamities that befell him. Why else, they reasoned, would he be suffering so much?

You can almost hear the judgmental, self-righteous tone in Eliphaz's voice as he sums up their reasoning in Job 4:7: "Remember now, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off?" The fact is, Job's three friends, with their criticism and self-righteousness, failed to look at Job's pain from a different point of view. Instead of consoling him with love, they reached the easy, but wrong conclusion that God must be punishing Job for some hidden sin.

Unlike Job and his three friends, the friendship between David and Jonathan is something indescribable. We can see the mutual love between them when they made a covenant, a testament to their loyalty to one another. To show outwardly his inward love, Jonathan took off his armor, sword, bow and belt and gave them all to his dear friend, David (1 Sam 18:3-4). This symbolic gesture represented his total commitment to David. Indeed, when his father, Saul, became resentful of David and demanded his life, Jonathan bore grief and shame on David's behalf, and put himself at risk for David's sake.

If we were to choose between the friendship of David and Jonathan or that of Job and his companions, we would of course prefer the kindness and commitment that existed between David and Jonathan. But close friendships don't just happen. They result from the application of principles given to us in the Bible—especially to love our friends as ourselves.

Publisher: True Jesus Church