In the book Battlefields and Blessings – Stories of Faith and Courage from the Civil War, Terry Tuley tells the following account of a wounded Union and Confederate soldier who reconciled before their deaths.
A wounded Federal soldier was hastily carried to a wood, and placed by the side of a dying Georgian. The Georgian, evidently a gentleman, said to him, as they lay bleeding side by side, “We came on the field enemies – let us part friends;” and extended to him his hand, which the other grasped with the reciprocal expression of friendly feeling. They were both Christian men, and they lay with clasped hands on that bloody field, until the hand of the noble Georgian was cold in death. How beautiful that scene, amid the horror of the battlefield! Who shall say, in view of it, that because of this strife between the North and South, they can never again clasp hands in mutual friendship and esteem? Who shall say that the time shall not come, when, on some well-fought field, they who met as enemies shall part as friends, and peace and restoration and mutual esteem ensue?
What an unlikely friendship to develop in such an unlikely environment. Those two men were sworn enemies, yet the reality of death’s cold grip brought everything into perspective. It is truly a shame that often takes a serious crisis for us to realize the true value of our relationships.
Tucked in the middle of 1 Samuel 23, David’s best friend makes one last appearance before his death. This may be a friendship in crisis, but the value of this friendship is never diminished or forgotten. David had not seen Jonathan since that day in the field when it became so obvious that there was no hope of reconciliation between Saul and David. Indeed, there were no guarantees that they would ever see each other again. But Jonathan makes one last visit a high priority – risking everything in the process.
When we read these verses, we see that Jonathan has a specific purpose for this visit. If they reminisced about the good old days, we’re not told that. If they joke about Saul and his treacherous ways, we don’t hear that. Instead, what we hear is Jonathan encouraging David in his walk with God.
Again, we see in this friendship a true model of what Christian friendship should look like. Truthfully, we may have many friends, but how many friends are friends like Jonathan? How many friends have access to this intimate level of our lives? How many friends can speak to us about our walk with God – when it is good, or when it is bad?
I think that we are prone to guard this part of our lives, letting few – if any – people in. And as a result, we have a lot of superficial friendships with no depth. The problem with this is that we may find that we have no friends around us when we need help walking through a difficult season in our lives. David was in a difficult season – a fugitive from Saul, but he had a true friend who sought him out in the midst of the difficulty and had a very spiritual conversation with him. May we make more friends like this!