Key Scriptures: I Samuel 18:1-4, I Samuel 19:1-7, I Samuel 20:1-42, Proverbs 18:24, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, John 15:13, Proverbs 27:17, I Thessalonians 5:11, I Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 27:6-9, Hebrews 10:24-25, I Peter 4:8-10, Proverbs 13:20, Proverbs 22:24-25, Romans 12:10-15, Colossians 3:12-14, Proverb 27:14, 2 Samuel 9:1-13, Proverbs 25:19, Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 12:26, Proverbs 19:4-7
Guiding Question: What type of friend does God want us to have and to be?
Optional Introductory Activity: Ask students what kinds of friendships people can have with each other – some examples might be friend, acquaintance, best friend, romantic friend, frenemy, friend that’s more like a sibling. Ask students to define each category and how they decide if a person falls into that category with them. Have students give examples from people in popular culture – real or characters – for each category.
Lesson: (Questions to students are in bold italics.) What makes two people decide to be friends? How do people generally decide whether someone is a friend, a best friend or so close they are more like siblings? Perhaps the best known friends in the Bible are David and Jonathan. Read I Samuel 18:1-4, 19:1-7 and 20:1-42. Jonathan was the heir to King Saul’s throne. By this time, it probably wasn’t a secret that God had taken the Kingdom from Saul’s family and would give it to David after Saul’s death. In any other kingdom at the time, David and Jonathan would consider each other the enemy. They would have tried to murder each other in order to keep the throne from being snatched away by the other one. Yet David and Jonathan’s friendship was so close, they thought of each other as brothers. Why do you think they were able to do this when it was extremely counter-cultural for their day and time?
It’s important to notice that their friendship wasn’t stress free. King Saul tried to kill David several times, there was drama with David trying to marry one of Jonathan’s sisters and the people were becoming more and more on the side of David. Yet through it all, they stayed friends. In fact, Jonathan even helped David escape so Saul couldn’t kill him. Sometimes when friendships have that much drama in them, we can be tempted to keep to ourselves. It seems a lot easier than the work involved in keeping a friendship strong.
But what does God have to say on the subject? Does He care whether or not we have friends? What does God think the benefits might be from having godly friends? Read the following scriptures and share your conclusions:
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 – two are better than one – they can help each other
- Proverbs 27:17 – friends can help each other be more godly (iron sharpening iron)
- I Thessalonians 5:11 – friends can encourage one another and build each other up
- Proverbs 27:6-9 – helpful friends hold us accountable and give us godly advice
- Hebrews 10:24-25 – friends can encourage us to do good works
- I Peter 4:8-10 – Christian friends should show hospitality, love each other earnestly, and use their gifts to serve each other
- Romans 12:10-15 – Christian friends will rejoice with us when we rejoice and weep with us when we weep
- Colossians 3:12-14 – Christian friends will show us compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience and forgiveness
- John 15:13 – greatest love is to lay one’s life down for a friend
- Proverbs 17:17 – will love at all times and be there for us in times of trouble
Notice many of those verses are written to Christians. While sometimes people who are not Christians can be that sort of friend to us, it is more likely we will find Christian friends with all of those qualities. Why do you think that would or should be true? Can you think of examples when your Christian friends have lived those verses in your life? (Have students share examples to give those who may be struggling some concrete examples.)
God obviously wants us to have good friends and be good friends. Sometimes though, life can be confusing. Someone might seem like they would make a good friend and then end up hurting us very badly in some way. God wants us to avoid that kind of pain as much as possible, so He gives us some types of people we should not consider our friends – not because God doesn’t love them or want them to become Christians – but because He wants to protect us from the pain these people will cause until they become godly. So who are these people?
- I Corinthians 15:33 – bad company ruins good morals – people who want us to do sinful things
- Proverbs 13:20 – companion of fools will suffer harm – people who make foolish choices and convince us to join them
- Proverbs 22:24-25 – don’t be friends with an angry man (someone who seems angry most of the time)
- Proverbs 25:19 – treacherous people in times of trouble – people who will turn on us if it is to their benefit
- Proverbs 12:26 – way of wicked leads them astray – people who are known for their wickedness (It’s more likely they will bring you down to their level if you spend a lot of time with them.)
- Proverbs 19:4-7 – friends who are only around when we have money and disappear when the money does (or any good thing really)
If you keep reading the stories of David and Jonathan, you will find their friendship and love for each other continues past the death of Jonathan. Read 2 Samuel 9:1-13. What did David do for the son of Jonathan? Why? In any other country, David would have killed Mephibosheth to make sure he never tried to take the throne from David. Yet David basically made him a member of his family and took care of him – because he still wanted to be a great friend to Jonathan.
Skills Activity: Review the information from the lesson. Remind students that although they may have had the same friends for many years, every time they begin something new – college, job, activity, etc. – they will make new friends. Divide students into groups of two or three. Have them create a friend “job application”. They should come up with a list of questions they can ask, things they might want to observe about the other person before getting too close, etc. Have students come back as a class and discuss their answers. Although, we don’t actually have a formal application process to be friends with each other, what strategies can they use to make sure they are choosing the types of friends God wants them to have and not becoming close friends with those God wants them to avoid as friends. (Depending upon the students, you may also want to discuss the need to be loving and kind to everyone and to share their faith with everyone – even people God doesn’t want them to befriend.
Application Challenge: Think about your current friendships. Are they the type of people God listed as ones that make great friends? How can you spend more time with people who God would want for us to have as friends? Where are some great places to find people who make great, godly friends?