Friendships in the bible that can encourage us.

Written by Lee Stevenson, sorry I am a lousy editor.

Things are rapidly winding down, this means it is very important to pay attention to who we choose as friends. We need to pay attention to how they react to scriptures. If they do not react positively to scriptures reminding about bad associations, or they do not continue to grow spiritually we need to be careful. This system is rapidly winding down and it is becoming clear that it may end very very soon and the new better system will be here soon. The friends we choose could either help us to remain faithful and loyal to God or they could draw us away and cause us to smear God’s good name. We just need to hang on a little longer. Being certain of a person’s standing with God will protect us because we are told even family will betray each other when the end of this system starts. By heeding those warnings it will help protect and guide us through this mess man has made and help us walk through this tribulation. I am going to show examples of those who chose their friends wisely and how even when times were hard it worked as a protection and reduced the impact the hard times had on their life.

The first friends I will discuss is David and Jonathan. Jonathan was kings Sauls son. When Saul was chosen as king by God his faith was very strong and he was humble. But shortly after he was made king by God he started to disobey God. Greed had gotten the best of Saul and instead of devoting things for destruction as God had told him to he kept some of the things that were supposed to be destroyed. Saul had lost site of the importance of complete obedience to God. He put his confidence in the wealth of those he conquered and left greed blind him. The prophet Samuel had told him it was no better then divination, practicing magic and said it was an act of idolatry. We frequently see God warning putting our faith in the wealth of this system as an act of idolatry. Because of this God rejected Saul as king and he chose David as king. This caused Saul to become jealous and he repeatedly tried to kill king David which gives us a clearer picture of why God rejected Saul because those actions showed what was in his heart. Some may think but king David committed a grave errors against God why did he not reject him? I will discuss that next before we discuss the friendship that David and Jonathan had so that we can have a clearer understanding.

We have to remember God can read our hearts, he knows if the heart has become hardened or not. He could read Saul’s heart and knew this would be a pattern for him. When king David committed a very serious error against God he accepted the correction and did not make that error again. As you can see it is whether we accept correction from God and do our best to let him guide us and make the necessary changes when we are made aware of a short coming. If we harden our hearts and ignore what may seem like little things it could cause our hearts to become hardened and we could be led astray. If we have a friend who commits errors, we should pay attention to how seriously they take the correction and how hard they work to prevent committing that error again. If they show signs of their heart may be hardened then we may want to be cautious. We cannot expect them to get over that error quickly it sometimes takes time. Now I will discuss how it was the faith and loyalty to God that made David and Jonathan’s relationship such a strong one. This faith, love and trust in God protected them and made their bond with each other unbreakable.

We need to keep in mind king Saul was Jonathan’s father. Jonathan obviously loved his father but he knew that Jehovah had rejected his father as king and chose David to replace him. This caused Saul to become jealous of David so he was trying to kill him. Because Jonathan put his loyalty to God first he did all he could to help protect David even though he knew that would be in opposition to his human father. Because of David and Jonathan’s love and faith for God they became very close friends. There were some pretty rocky times ahead for David as Saul kept trying to kill him but Jonathan did all he could to try and help David. In the relationships that were very strong in the bible they always kept Jehovah in the relationship and they supported and protected each others relationship with God.

There is another friend king David had that is not mentioned often. Ittai who was not an Israelite , he came from the nations so was a foreigner. His faith and loyalty to God was so strong that he refused to leave king David’s side and return to his own land. He had such loyalty to God that he refused to leave Davids side even though it could have cost him his life. Why would it have been dangerous for Ittai to remain by Davids side? David’s son Abaslom was rebelling against God and was trying to kill his father king David. He had amassed soldiers to try and kill David and any who stayed by his side.

Now I will discus Ruth and Naomi. Ruth was a Moabitess who had accepted true worship and had married one of Naomi’s sons. Another of Naomi’s sons had married a Moabitess named Orpah. Naomi’s sons had died leaving the two women childless. A famine had caused them to leave their native land in Judah. They had heard that Jehovah was showing Israel favor again in Judah so Naomi decided to return to Judah. Naomi recommended that Ruth and Orpah return to their land instead of following her to Judah to get husbands so they could have children and the security that comes with having a family. Orpah returned to Moab but Ruth loved God and had complete faith in him. The love for God and the faith that Ruth and Naomi shared gave them a very good friendship. Rather then having the security that would come from returning to her family Ruth chose to stay by Naomi’s side. Naomi was much older then Ruth and was too old to have children so there was a good chance Ruth would not find a husband and get married. The love Ruth had for God gave her a very close relationship with Naomi. She refused to return to her land and her family but chose to stay by Naomi’s side and travel to Judah with her. Ruth had expressed her faith in Jehovah and expressed to Naomi she would not leave her side and that only death could get her to leave her side. Imagine how that must have made Naomi feel knowing she was not going to be alone and she had a friend that had such strong love and faith in God. We need to take note that in all these relationships they put God and his will first. This built a relationship that was sound and very trust worthy.

Daniel lived in a time when Israel had rebelled against God and had been committing sins that were worse then the sins of the nations who did not have God’s laws to guide and protect them. Because of Israel’s rebellion God had left Israel get taken into captivity. Daniel along with three of his friends Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego were in captivity in Babylon. Their faith in God and his word had made them wiser then the people of Babylon. They gave testimony to God’s glory by remaining faithful even if it meant opposing the kings which could cost their life. Because Daniel and his friends were blessed by God with more wisdom they had been promoted to position of authority. There were those in positions of authority that were jealous of Daniel and his friends so they kept tricking the king into passing laws that would force Daniel and their friends into violating God’s laws. This would have made them lose God’s favor. If they violated the kings orders it could cost their lives. We are not to worship any God other then the one true God. When king Nebuchadnezzer built a golden idol and demanded people bow to it and worship his God Daniel and his friends refused to do so. The king ordered them bound in the fiery furnace. They knew God could save them but did not care if God saved them or not they would not bow to any other God except Jehovah. The king ordered that Daniel and his friends be thrown in a fiery furnace and ordered the furnace be made hotter. Daniel and his friends were bound and thrown into the furnace. The furnace was so hot that those who threw Daniel and his friends into the furnace died from the heat. When the king and his men checked to see if the God of Daniel protected them, he found that God had sent angels to protect them. They were protected so well that not even the smoke from the fire was on their clothes. This gives us an example of what we need to look for when it comes to our friends. Will they put true worship of God and his laws first no matter what the cost to them may be? In doing so God protected them and got them through some very hard times. You can be certain that the faith and loyalty they showed to God made their friendships stronger because they knew they could trust each other because they put their love for God first. Having others who share such strong faith and trust in God can help to strengthen our faith and trust in God.

The last example I will use is that of Paul, and his friends Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila. Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila were woman who had such a love for the message of Jesus and for their spiritual family that they risk their lives for them. This was at a time when people of the nations were being accepted into the new covenant Jesus had made, people of the nations had now become part of the new nation of Israel brought about by that covenant. Many Jews were still clinging to the old laws so there was a lot of pressure being put on them and they were frequently accused of teaching false teachings. Many Jews became so angered often times they would try and kill those teaching the things Jesus had revealed. This also came at a time when the Jews had to flee from the Romans because they were under siege and were being killed by Roman soldiers. So these were very dangerous times but they never ceased delivering the message about the ransom sacrifice God provided and how he had appointed him to be our king and sat Jesus on the heavenly throne and how this kingdom would restore the earth to it’s original purpose. This gives us hope that very soon all the bad will be gone and there will be no more sadness and tears. Sad memories will be replaced by the good memories in those who make it through the tribulation into the new system. Things are going to get much worse very soon. Having a solid foundation in God and not in this system and the things in it will help to protect us. If our identities have their foundation build on our trust and faith in God and not material things of the world if we lose them it will not effect how we view ourselves and our hope for the future. Having good friends that have sound faith and love for God can help us endure the things that will occur soon and can help to protect us spiritually and even protect our lives. We need not fear because the bible assures us many will make it through the great tribulation. We do not have to fear death because the bible assures that not even death will separate us from the love of God and the love of Jesus. So he will remember those who faithfully and loyally served him during the resurrection.

(1 Samuel 15:17-19) 17 Samuel continued: “Were you not insignificant in your own eyes when you were made head of the tribes of Israel and when Jehovah anointed you as king over Israel? 18 Jehovah later sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, and devote the sinful A·malʹek·ites to destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ 19 So why did you not obey the voice of Jehovah? Instead, you rushed greedily toward the spoil and did what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah!”

(1 Samuel 15:17-19) 17 Samuel continued: “Were you not insignificant in your own eyes when you were made head of the tribes of Israel and when Jehovah anointed you as king over Israel? 18 Jehovah later sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, and devote the sinful A·malʹek·ites to destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ 19 So why did you not obey the voice of Jehovah? Instead, you rushed greedily toward the spoil and did what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah!”

(1 Samuel 15:22, 23) 22 Samuel then said: “Does Jehovah take as much pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Look! To obey is better than a sacrifice, and to pay attention than the fat of rams; 23 for rebelliousness is the same as the sin of divination, and pushing ahead presumptuously the same as using magical power and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of Jehovah, he has rejected you from being king.”

(Jeremiah 17:10) 10 I, Jehovah, am searching the heart, Examining the innermost thoughts, To give to each one according to his ways, According to the fruitage of his works.

(2 Samuel 12:13, 14) 13 David then said to Nathan: “I have sinned against Jehovah.” Nathan replied to David: “Jehovah, in turn, forgives your sin. You will not die. 14 Nevertheless, because you have treated Jehovah with utter disrespect in this matter, the son just born to you will certainly die.”

(1 Samuel 20:14-17) 14 And will you not show me the loyal love of Jehovah while I am alive and even when I die? 15 Never withdraw your loyal love from my household, even when Jehovah wipes out all the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16 So Jonʹa·than made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “Jehovah will require it and call David’s enemies to account.” 17 So Jonʹa·than had David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved himself.

(1 Samuel 20:18-23) 18 Jonʹa·than then said to him: “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, for your seat will be vacant. 19 By the third day, you will be missed even more, and you must go to the place where you hid the other day and stay near the stone here. 20 I will then shoot three arrows to one side of it, as though I were shooting at a target. 21 When I send the attendant, I will say, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the attendant, ‘Look! The arrows are on this side of you, get them,’ then you may come back, for as surely as Jehovah is living, it means everything is peaceful for you and there is no danger. 22 But if I should say to the boy, ‘Look! The arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for Jehovah has sent you away. 23 As for the promise that we have made, you and I, may Jehovah be between us forever.”

(Ruth 1:7-15) . . ., 8 Na·oʹmi said to both of her daughters-in-law: “Go, return, each of you to your mother’s home. May Jehovah show loyal love to you, just as you have shown it to the men who have died and to me. 9 May Jehovah grant that each of you finds security in the home of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept loudly. 10 They kept saying to her: “No, but we will go with you to your people.” 11 But Na·oʹmi said: “Return, my daughters. Why should you go with me? Can I still give birth to sons who could become your husbands? 12 Return, my daughters. Go, for I have grown too old to marry. Even if I could hope to find a husband tonight and could also bear sons, 13 would you keep waiting for them until they could grow up? Would you refrain from getting remarried for their sakes? No, my daughters, I feel very bitter for you, because the hand of Jehovah has turned against me.” 14 Again they wept loudly, after which Orʹpah kissed her mother-in-law and departed. But Ruth stuck with her. 15 So Na·oʹmi said: “Look! Your widowed sister-in-law has returned to her people and her gods. Return with your sister-in-law.”

(Ruth 1:16, 17) 16 But Ruth said: “Do not plead with me to abandon you, to turn back from accompanying you; for where you go I will go, and where you spend the night, I will spend the night. Your people will be my people, and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May Jehovah do so to me and add to it if anything but death should separate me from you.”

(2 Samuel 15:18-22) 18 All his servants leaving with him and all the Cherʹe·thites, the Pelʹe·thites, and the Gitʹtites, 600 men who had followed him from Gath, were passing by as the king reviewed them. 19 Then the king said to Itʹtai the Gitʹtite: “Why should you also go with us? Go back and dwell with the new king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your place. 20 Yesterday you came, so today should I make you wander with us, to go when I must go and where I must go? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may Jehovah show you loyal love and faithfulness!” 21 But Itʹtai answered the king: “As surely as Jehovah is living and as surely as my lord the king is living, wherever my lord the king may be, whether for death or for life, there your servant will be!” 22 At that David said to Itʹtai: “Go and cross over.” So Itʹtai the Gitʹtite crossed over, together with all his men and children.

(2 Samuel 15:13-17) 13 In time an informer came to David, saying: “The heart of the men of Israel has turned to Abʹsa·lom.” 14 At once David said to all his servants with him in Jerusalem: “Get up, and let us run away, for none of us will escape from Abʹsa·lom! Hurry, for fear he may quickly overtake us and bring disaster on us and strike the city with the sword!” 15 The king’s servants replied to the king: “Whatever my lord the king decides, your servants are ready to do.” 16 So the king went out with all his household following him, but the king left ten concubines to take care of the house. 17 And the king continued on his way out with all the people following, and they stopped at Beth-merʹhak.

(Daniel 2:46-49) 46 Then King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar fell down with his face to the ground before Daniel and paid homage to him. And he gave the order to offer a present and incense to him. 47 The king said to Daniel: “Truly your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a Revealer of secrets, because you were able to reveal this secret.” 48 The king then elevated Daniel and gave him many fine gifts, and he made him the ruler over all the province of Babylon and the chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. 49 And at Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go over the administration of the province of Babylon, but Daniel served in the king’s court.

(Daniel 3:3-7) 3 So the satraps, prefects, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the administrators of the provinces assembled for the inauguration of the image that King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar had set up. And they stood in front of the image that Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar had set up. 4 The herald loudly proclaimed: “You are commanded, O peoples, nations, and language groups, 5 that when you hear the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, triangular harp, stringed instrument, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar has set up. 6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into the burning fiery furnace.” 7 So when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, pipe, zither, triangular harp, stringed instrument, and all the other musical instruments, all the peoples, nations, and language groups fell down and worshipped the image of gold that King Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar had set up.

(Daniel 3:16-20) 16 Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go answered the king: “O Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If it must be, our God whom we serve is able to rescue us from the burning fiery furnace, O king, and to rescue us from your hand. 18 But even if he does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you have set up.” 19 Then Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar became so furious with Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go that the expression of his face changed toward them, and he gave orders to heat the furnace seven times hotter than usual. 20 He ordered some of the mighty men from his army to bind Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go and to throw them into the burning fiery furnace.

(Daniel 3:26, 27) 26 Neb·u·chad·nezʹzar approached the door of the burning fiery furnace and said: “Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go, you servants of the Most High God, step out and come here!” Shaʹdrach, Meʹshach, and A·bedʹne·go stepped out from the midst of the fire. 27 And the satraps, prefects, governors, and the high officials of the king who were assembled there saw that the fire had had no effect on the bodies of these men; not a hair of their heads had been singed, their cloaks looked no different, and there was not even the smell of fire on them.

(Romans 16:1-4) 16 I am introducing to you Phoeʹbe, our sister, who is a minister of the congregation that is in Cenʹchre·ae, 2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the holy ones and give her whatever help she may need, for she herself also proved to be a defender of many, including me. 3 Give my greetings to Prisʹca and Aqʹui·la, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who have risked their own necks for me and to whom not only I but also all the congregations of the nations give thanks.

(Isaiah 65:17-20) 17 For look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be called to mind, Nor will they come up into the heart. 18 So exult and be joyful forever in what I am creating. For look! I am creating Jerusalem a cause for joy And her people a cause for exultation. 19 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people; No more will there be heard in her the sound of weeping or a cry of distress.” 20 “No more will there be an infant from that place who lives but a few days, Nor an old man who fails to live out his days. For anyone who dies at a hundred will be considered a mere boy, And the sinner will be cursed, even though he is a hundred years of age.

(Revelation 7:13-17) 13 In response one of the elders said to me: “These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?” 14 So right away I said to him: “My lord, you are the one who knows.” And he said to me: “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 That is why they are before the throne of God, and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. 16 They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down on them nor any scorching heat, 17 because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them and will guide them to springs of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”

(Romans 8:35-39) 35 Who will separate us from the love of the Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or hunger or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 Just as it is written: “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we have been accounted as sheep for slaughtering.” 37 On the contrary, in all these things we are coming off completely victorious through the one who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers 39 nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Acts 24:14, 15) . . .. 15 And I have hope toward God, which hope these men also look forward to, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.