With whom do we associate ourselves? David has a clear answer for this question when he says, “I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts” (Ps.119:63). David reigned over all Israel. He could choose anyone and everyone to be his companion, yet David chose very carefully who his companions would be. He chose those who put God before himself. This choice is altogether strange to the kings of the world. Why choose those who worship a greater King and not those who will give their all to David? We see in David’s life a great measure of wisdom in how he chose his companions. David learned the sorrow and emptiness of fellowship with the world in the land of the Philistines, then he learned to trust in God and dwell in fellowship with Christ and His people. His story shows us what we must look for in our companions and what kind of companions we are called to be.
David once tasted the bitter chastisement of God for trusting and making friends with those whom God despised. In I Sam. 27, David’s fear turned to unbelief, and he, with his men, moved to the land of the Philistines. He forsook his friendship with Jonathan and his kinship with Israel to live with ungodly men, because he feared Saul and did not trust in God to protect him. Achish, king of Gath, wanted nothing but for David to destroy the covenant children of God. David lived a lie for a year and four months, telling Achish that he went against Judah. God never blesses a lie. David walked in a wrong way and entangled himself in impossible situations. David learned that looks can be deceiving: “The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel” (Prov. 12:10). The kindness and trust of Achish would never benefit David because they each served different masters and lived for a different purpose. By His mercy, the Lord brought David to repentance. God will never deny Himself by forsaking His own in the hands of His enemies. God taught David the importance of an antithetical life through a difficult way, the way He saw was most perfect.
David was a man who “trust[ed] in the LORD” and inquired of God’s will (Ps. 118:8; Ps. 11:1-3; Ps. 27). He highly regarded the saints and called them “the excellent, in whom is all my delight” (Ps. 16:3). David cherished God’s Word, which is shown in how he lived in communion with his friends. God knew that this future king’s life was not easy, being a bulwark, a defense against God’s enemies. So God sent a faithful friend and valiant soldiers to comfort and accompany his servant David. The Lord, in his wisdom and unfailing mercy, provided a faithful friend, Jonathan. What kind of friend was Jonathan to David? Scripture shows that their friendship was free of envy. Rather than being jealous of David’s future position as King, Jonathan kept God’s command and helped him become King. Jonathan sympathized with David when he was persecuted and haunted by Jonathan’s own father, King Saul. Jonathan was wise and godly, a friend fit for a godly king of Israel. He was a true friend who sought not to gain, but to give (Acts 20:35). He “strengthened [David’s] hand in God” (I Sam. 23:16). Why was it important for David to choose his friends wisely? Because even a man after God’s own heart does not always dwell on mountaintops of faith. He has many enemies that can cause him many troubles and can be a reason for his spiritual low point (Ps. 59, I Sam. 20, 21). He needs a friend who can strengthen his faith in Jehovah and not lead him astray from God’s Word.
David teaches us both what to avoid and what to pursue in making companions. Whom we call “friend” should be of great importance and concern to every believer. Friends have a great impact on our lives. Their preferences, lifestyle, attitude, taste, and beliefs quickly rub off onto us. The pressure of worldly friends can lead us, like David, to hurt the covenant children of God. Even if they do not command it, like Achish, their influence will change us and start to point us against God’s people. It is more likely that close companionship with the world will influence us rather than that we will influence them for good. We cannot change a man’s heart. This relationship of friendship/companionship can be a great benefit to us, or it can cause us to slip.
Leaving the church and making friendship with the world is disobedience to God. We cannot unite Christ with the world. Solomon warns us that “many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death” (Prov. 7:26-27). Some may say, “It is true we may not unite ourselves with a harlot as Solomon warns, but isn’t that a bit dramatic when we are speaking of a simple friendship with someone in the world?” Perhaps one’s friend in the world appears to live a decent life, but the devil has always worked sneakily like a serpent and with poison under his lips (Psalm 140:3). As Paul puts it, we cannot “be conformed to this world” but must instead be transformed and “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). Paul, like David, emphasizes the importance of the way we and our friends walk. We do not make friends with those who are opposed to God’s will, but with God’s “peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). We walk united in one pursuit to glorify God. We put Him before ourselves.
What does all this say about our calling to be a companion? How must we walk so that others may call us their companion? In regards to dating, Rev. Joshua Engelsma said, “We should give more thought to becoming someone rather than finding someone.” Likewise, I think it is important in friendship not to focus on the mote in our brother’s eye, but consider the beam in our own. Are we worthy of being called a companion? Do we fear the Lord and keep his commandments in all our walk? Follow the example of Jonathan. Learn how he walked. We should “study to shew [ourselves] approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). We must know our God well and know His Word to live out of it and be a good companion to others. Strengthen your friends in the Lord as Jonathan did to David. Practically, speak about God, listen to music that glorifies God and causes others to look toward Him, do devotions together, encourage one another with scripture, and live in Christ that by your example others may see the light. These things can often feel awkward to us or maybe even sound cheesy. That is the sad truth because we should be filled with such excitement that this comes naturally. Continue to pray for strength and work on it every day to better be a Jonathan to your David. “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:10).
Who are your friends? What do they fear? More importantly, whom do you fear? Do you encourage your friends to fear the Lord and walk after his precepts? In his life and in his writing David testifies to us of the importance of putting God first in all things. This truth most certainly applies to with whom we associate ourselves. Walk with God’s people and we will be drawn closer to Him; walk with the wicked and we will slowly slide down the path to hell. “The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just” (Prov. 3:33).
Grace Vencer and Luke Potjer
Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pg. 66, Dating Differently. Reformed Free Publishing Association.