A Companion of Them that Fear Thee

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

Works Cited: 

Rev. Joshua Engelsma, pg. 66, Dating Differently. Reformed Free Publishing Association.

Content in Singleness

Being single in today’s world can be difficult, especially when we are surrounded by the social pressure to date and get married. But while we may feel a sense of loneliness because we are not in a relationship, we must not let this be our utmost focus. There is so much more to life than trying to find a future spouse. We have been given the comfort of knowing that God holds each of us in his hand and has every one of our lives planned out. Our calling is to live out each day in thankfulness to God for choosing us to be one of His elect people. We must also remember that we are not alone in this world, because we have the blessing of the communion of saints, and are able to turn to friends and family when we are feeling discouraged with uncertainty. Proverbs 12:25 says, “ Heaviness of the heart maketh it stoop: But a good word maketh it glad.”  

But while we do this we must not forget to turn to God as well. He is the greatest friend we will ever have, and He knows us better than anyone and what a gift it is to be able to go to Him in prayer. It is the best time to ask God to show us His will for us. We must believe that He will lead us to what we need. If we continually meditate in God’s word, the way will become clearer and clearer as we read what He is telling us. We are often misled by what we think we want and therefore are led to things we think we need. We must not let the longing slay the appetite for living. God’s plan is our plan.  

As we look around we see that we live in an age of entitlement. All around the wicked are giving in to their each and every desire as they live in a false sense of happiness and satisfaction in their earthly lusts. They reject any form of chastity in their relationships and Satan is glorified in it all, and this path ends in damnation. It is easy to get lured into that entitlement way of thinking. With this in mind and the temptation all around, face the future, and be content in your singleness. Whether or not God has a relationship planned for you or me, we can be assured that all things will work for our good. Our purpose is to serve him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and what an amazing calling that is.

Lisa Oomkes

Practical Steps for a Christ-Centered Relationship

Chances are, you have been told before that when dating, you should seek to maintain a Christ-centered relationship. But this is not as simple as it may sound. The Bible, after all, contains no step-by-step guide on how to please God in your dating, nor are there any children’s Bible stories which directly teach us how to date. The culture of Bible times was very different from our own, especially regarding marriage. This is not to say, however, that the Bible can simply be thrown out when we consider how we ought to date. Whether you are currently dating someone or are single and looking to the future, the Bible contains much wisdom for you on this subject. There are principles in Scripture which we can apply to our relationships, taking practical steps to ensure they always remain centered on Christ. We are concerned here with three such practical steps: attending spiritually formative activities together, doing devotions with one another, and dating for marriage.

At the end of Acts 2, we find a striking passage. After Peter gave his sermon on the day of Pentecost, we read that roughly three thousand people were converted to the faith, and that “all that believed were together, and had all things common” (vs. 44). The people had fellowship together and enjoyed the benefits of that fellowship, which included the spiritual growth and unity implied here. Growth in the faith need not be only a private activity. Rather, there is something beautiful about spiritual growth occurring corporately.

In a relationship, too, spiritual growth is a beautiful thing. To grow together, make a point of spending time with one another at the sorts of activities or events which stimulate development, not only those that “sound fun.” Instead of going out to eat next week, consider going to that speech being put on by one of the churches’ evangelism committees. Instead of heading to the beach tomorrow night, head to the Young Calvinists Talking Points event. Go to church together for one of the services next Sunday. More importantly, do these things with a purpose. In our circles, it is somewhat normal to attend such events together while dating (especially going to church together). But doing so ought not merely be a formality. Talk together about what you learned at the speech. Discuss differences in delivery or style between your pastors. Spiritual growth does not happen in an entirely passive way; you need to take the initiative if you want to grow together. When you do continue to develop in the faith together, Jesus will inevitably become more central in your life, as well as to your relationship with one another.

Another means of growing spiritually is by doing devotions together. If you are already doing personal devotions each day (and hopefully you are), it should be obvious to you that this causes you to grow closer to the Lord. Choose a book of the Bible and work through it together, looking for themes and application to your relationship but also to life in general. Pray for one another and for wisdom in your relationship. Pointing one another to spiritual matters, even from a very early stage, is Biblical. In the book of Ruth, a beneficial read for anyone in a relationship, Boaz pointed Ruth to God almost immediately after meeting her, and she said that this “comforted” her (see Ruth 2:5-13). Reading the Bible, discussing it, and praying together are invaluable ways of ensuring that Christ always comes first, even if you have not been together for very long.

Just as we ought not fear to point one another to Scripture and spirituality early in a relationship, we ought also not fear to consider from an early stage whether or not our significant other would make a godly spouse. “But,” you may say, “I’m not ready to think about that yet. I just want to enjoy spending time with him/her and go on fun dates together.” If that is your attitude, you should give serious thought to this question: am I ready to date? Dating is not merely an opportunity to have some fun. It is the means by which you determine whether or not God is calling you to marry someone, and we ought to take it seriously. This does not mean, of course, that we can never have fun in a dating relationship. On the contrary, if you are never having fun with your boyfriend or girlfriend, that too bodes poorly for the future. But if your only focus is to spend time and have fun with a person to whom you are attracted for physical and emotional reasons, you open the door for making your relationship entirely focused on personal pleasure. This is not how we should date. The Bible says, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (I John 2:16). To make your relationship purely about enjoying one another’s presence and the nice things you do for each other is to adopt a dangerous attitude, one which cares more for the things of the world than those of the Father.

Alternatively, we should date with a view toward marriage. In Genesis 24 we read of the marriage of Isaac. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son, the servant found Rebekah and desired her to immediately come back with him. Rebekah’s brother and mother wanted her to “abide with us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go” (verse 55). But when they asked Rebekah to choose in verse 58, she decided to go immediately. Again, it should be noted here that dating is a practice very different from that of Biblical arranged marriages. However, the attitude of Rebekah is an admirable one, and we can all learn from it in our dating. Do not simply delay thinking about marriage to enjoy the pleasures of this world for a time; instead, be willing to consider immediately whether it is God’s will for you to marry one another. In so doing, Jesus will become more central to how you date: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

There are countless different influences from the world around us telling us what our relationships should be like. For the child of God, however, the center must always be Christ, our King. Maintaining such a relationship is admittedly difficult, but the Bible does provide some help for us. By striving always to have Christ at the center of our relationships, we can effectively follow Paul’s advice to Timothy in II Timothy 2:22 together: “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

Matt Koerner