Shepherd Elie Hamuli
1 Samuel 18
Part 1: Covenant Friendship
In the story told in 1 Samuel 18, we witness the initial encounter between David and Jonathan, a meeting that sparked an instant connection. This remarkable event gave birth to a profound covenant between the two men. It serves as a poignant reminder that covenant relationships can manifest swiftly, defying the notion that time is a prerequisite for their establishment. A covenant acts as a sacred platform for mutual exchange, where both parties give and receive. It holds the power to transform one’s status, aligning individuals with their divine purpose. Genuine admiration and selfless aspirations form the bedrock of a covenant, where love for the other is akin to self-love. Jonathan’s willingness to relinquish his rightful claim to the throne and bestow it upon David exemplifies this selflessness. Furthermore, a covenant finds its true strength when it aligns with God’s purpose.
Let us not forget that, alongside the godly covenant, there exist both demonic and man-made covenants. The demonic covenant serves as a conduit for the devil’s wicked schemes, while the man-made covenant, though neither inherently good nor evil, serves the purposes of humanity. However, it is the divine covenant that surpasses all natural covenants in significance. Jonathan’s unwavering commitment to protect David, bound by a divine covenant, even in the face of opposition from his father, with whom he shares a natural covenant, illuminates the tendency of individuals to overlook God’s intended relationships in favor of earthly connections. In 2 Samuel 18:3-4, Jonathan and David solidify their covenant publicly, engaging in an exchange of items. It is crucial to note that their covenant was not merely an imagined or assumed arrangement but rather a visible and shared commitment.
Action accompanied their covenant, ensuring that both parties were aware of its existence. Without this shared awareness, unrealistic expectations and a one-sided covenant would emerge. Consider the exchange that took place between the two men: David accepted from Jonathan what he could not receive from King Saul, namely, armor. He willingly donned the armor and sword offered by Jonathan, as they were suited to him by virtue of their covenant.
Jonathan, in a remarkable gesture, divested himself of his princely identity, offering it to David, for it fit him perfectly. This mirrors what Jesus did for humanity—He bestowed upon us His divine identity, while taking upon Himself our earthly limitations on the cross. Royalty can only be passed through relationship or covenant, which underscores the divine nature of the covenant between Jonathan and David. It facilitated the transfer of royal lineage from Saul, through Jonathan, to David. This covenant held prophetic significance, enabling the transference of royalty from the tribe of Benjamin to the tribe of Judah, as foretold by Jacob during his blessings upon his sons. It is evident that God orchestrated events to bring these two men together.
As Jonathan removed his robe, symbolizing royalty, and bestowed it upon David, he also shed his garment and tunic, representing vulnerability. There was nothing to conceal. A covenant cannot thrive if one party is unwilling to reveal their true self. If pride takes precedence over the relationship, the covenant should be dissolved, as pride obstructs intimacy. Jonathan also presented David with his belt, a symbol of unity and cohesion, along with his sword. This act signifies placing oneself in a position of vulnerability and trust before the other person. Thus, covenants, if not of divine origin, can be dangerous and detrimental. Regardless of one’s strength, wisdom, or brilliance, certain blessings and privileges can only be obtained through a covenant. Divine covenants are designed to shape individuals into who they are meant to be.
Turning our attention to 1 Samuel 19:1-7, let us take note of Jonathan’s unwavering commitment to the covenant, evident through his actions. Jonathan’s conduct reveals the essence of a true friend—one who defends you even when your very presence threatens their own promotion. Such a friend will speak highly of you, even if it jeopardizes their relationships with others, risking the loss of favors or advantages derived from those connections. A genuine friend prioritizes your peace and well-being, ensuring that your relationships with others remain healthy.
In 1 Samuel 20:34 and 42, Jonathan displayed his unwavering loyalty by standing against his own father to protect David. This remarkable act emphasizes that a covenant extends beyond the individuals involved, reaching future generations. We witness this truth in 2 Samuel 9:6-7, where the covenant forged between Jonathan and David allowed Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, to partake in the blessings of that covenant. Mephibosheth had the privilege of dining at the same table as King David. Covenants possess the power to safeguard your descendants and can even answer prayers your children never uttered.
Part 2: Where Does Dating Come In?
In 2 Samuel 1:26, as David mourned the loss of his dear friend Jonathan, he declared that their love surpassed the love of a woman. While this statement may seem perplexing to many, the truth remains that a divine covenant always surpasses a natural one because it serves a higher purpose. Although sex is often associated with the establishment of a covenant, a divine covenant goes beyond mere physical attraction as it focuses on fulfilling the will of God rather than personal desires.
Considering the covenant between Jonathan and David, it is crucial to address whether such a covenant can exist between a man and a woman.
In a deep relationship between a man and a woman, the immediate assumption is often centered around sex, as if a woman’s love is reduced solely to that aspect. Consequently, many argue that a covenant relationship between individuals of opposite genders cannot exist. However, when love is perverted and misunderstood, it opens the door to various discussions, such as homosexuality. It is important to clarify that homosexuality is a sin. God loves individuals regardless of their sins, but the problem arises when one embraces homosexuality as a lifestyle without acknowledging it as a sin.
To gain perspective, in the eyes of God, sin is sin; none holds superiority over the other. Homosexuality, sexual immorality (sleeping with someone outside of marriage), and substance abuse are all sins. No one can claim that their sin is better than another’s. Moreover, any sin in the eyes of God is displeasing, and attempting to justify unrighteous living by comparing sins to others is futile. The Christian stance against homosexuality is rooted in the truth that God has deemed it wrong and unacceptable as a lifestyle. However, God’s arms are always open to those who wish to turn away from that lifestyle. As believers, our role is to exemplify God’s love, drawing others towards Him.
Returning to the burning question of whether a covenant relationship can exist between individuals of the opposite sex, the answer is yes, such a relationship is possible. However, it is important to acknowledge that a relationship of this nature is likely to give rise to eros love—an intense sexual attraction. When eros love is not handled appropriately, it can lead to fornication, thereby tarnishing the purity of the covenant or the friendship. This is where the concept of dating emerged, as people sought a covenant that allows for forbidden actions.
Nevertheless, there is good news: dating can be redefined according to biblical principles, understanding that even such a covenant can be corrupted. The world’s definition of dating often condones sinful behavior, permitting a married-like lifestyle outside of marriage, including engaging in sexual activity. Sex is indeed a beautiful aspect of human relationships, but it is designed to be experienced within the context of marriage. Therefore, when a covenant friendship between individuals of the opposite sex takes a romantic turn, its aim should be directed toward marriage. This approach allows eros love to be expressed in a proper manner. As eros love arises, it should be controlled and guided by accountability and principles derived from the Word of God.
This includes respecting each other’s bodies and avoiding situations that may compromise the purity of the covenant. It is crucial to safeguard against circumstances that could corrupt the relationship. If you know that you do not intend to pursue marriage, it is advisable to avoid entering into such a friendship.
Part 3: The Right Time to Date Or Enter A Romantic Relationship
Now, let’s address the question of when is the appropriate time to start dating. Here are two important considerations regarding when to date and when not to date:
- Avoid dating when you are still navigating your spiritual journey with Christ. If you are uncertain about your identity as a child of God, involving another person in your confusion will only lead to further perplexity. As the saying goes, the blind cannot guide the blind. To truly understand yourself, immerse yourself in the Word of God, for it acts as a mirror, reflecting who you are presently and who you are destined to become in Christ (your new identity). Knowing your true identity helps establish healthy boundaries. Engaging in a romantic relationship at the wrong time can result in emotional, physical, spiritual, and psychological damage. It’s important to note that entering into a same-sex covenant without caution can also have equally detrimental consequences.
- If the idea of marriage is distant from your thoughts, it’s wise to refrain from dating. It’s akin to sitting at a table when no meal has been prepared, leaving you famished and frustrated. Therefore, date only when you are ready for marriage. By relying on God’s strength, you will be empowered to overcome the temptations that may arise on this journey. If you are not yet inclined towards marriage, it is too early to engage in a romantic relationship as it will likely bring unnecessary pain and challenges.
Now, let’s explore what to look for when considering a romantic relationship that will potentially lead to marriage:
- According to 2 Corinthians 6:14, it is important to seek a partner who shares your faith. The first aspect to consider is having a mutual foundation in faith. Both individuals should have a genuine desire to walk together towards God.
- Keeping 2 Corinthians 10:31 in mind, the primary objective of the relationship should be to glorify God. Approaching romantic relationships with this mindset will spare you from engaging in unnecessary activities such as premarital sex.
By aligning yourself with these principles, you will enhance your chances of entering into a romantic relationship that is built on a solid foundation and has the potential to lead to a godly marriage.