David’s friendship with Jonathan is perhaps the only bright spot in these chapters. Joyce Baldwin writes: “Jonathan made a covenant with David, apparently on the spur of the moment, in the glow of David’s victory; but it was a lasting commitment that both men were to honour, and which they never regretted. Jonathan’s action in stripping off his royal insignia, and his royal armour and weapons, only to give them all to David, was more than spontaneous generosity, to meet the need of his new-found friend. It was a recognition of David’s worth, for which Jonathan was willing to give his all, even his right to the throne, for ‘he loved him as himself (v. 3). In our political world, where power plays such an important role, what would be thought of a prince who voluntarily renounced his throne in favour of a friend whose character and godly faith he admired? It is an unusual theme, unique, maybe. What did Jonathan’s contemporaries think, and in particular his father? (Joyce Baldwin, 1 and 2 Samuel: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1988) p. 138).
To see others (no matter who they are or their station in life) for who they can be, for the promise they hold, and to dedicate yourself to helping them fulfill their promise is the essence of being a true friend. As the story unfolds, David is constantly fearful for his life. But Jonathan is the encourager, the calm one, who is determined to do what it takes to ensure the well-being of his friend. That’s the kind of friend we all want, and the kind we should all be.