1 Samuel 23:1-29 (Part 3) – Donnie, Ernie, and Humberto – Those David & Jonathan Friendships…

Posted: March 27, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel

1 Samuel 23:1-29 (Part 3 of 3)
David Hides in the Wilderness

What is the mark of a true friend? They know the real you and still hang around you any way. A true friend is one that has had an argument with you but does not let it end the relationship. A true friend always comes back. How many true friends have you had in your life? I have had maybe three true friends. I have had a lot of acquaintances in life but only a few true friends. For the purposes of this blog, I want to limit true friends to those of the same sex. My wife would qualify as one of my truest friends but that would be a totally different kind of blog for another day. So, who have been my best guy friends over my lifetime and why.

When I sit down and think about it, there have been only three guy friends over my lifetime that I would consider my best friends. Those guys who got to see the real me – the one that doesn’t put on a show for the outside world. The first of those close friends had to be Donnie Garrison. He was my best friend when my dad was serving as an associate pastor at Trinity United Methodist Church in Anderson, SC from June 1974-June 1976. Our friendship lasted beyond our moving away in the Summer of 1976. He fell out of my life by the early 1980s because of logistics and different interests but those best years were when we lived in Anderson together. Donnie lived on his family land which used to be a farm but now was just this huge piece of land on Lake Hartwell (one of the largest man-made lakes in terms of shoreline in America). Because of that Donnie was an avid water skier from an early age. I learned to water ski because of Donnie and I quickly became almost as good as him. We loved to water ski. We loved to swim. We loved to go exploring in the woods. And we loved, as tweeners at the time (middle schoolers), to lip sync and play air guitar to our favorite bands. Mainly at that time, we were big KISS fans. He would be Gene Simmons and I would be Paul Stanley. When we weren’t doing those things, we would just talk for hours about girls, about parents, about life. We were the best of friends. We remained friends after my dad got assigned to Travelers Rest United Methodist Church and Jackson Grove United Methodist Church in Travelers Rest, SC in 1976, but the move changed the close proximity we used to have and the friendship died on the vine after a time. That and having those first high school girlfriends with all the passion and I can’t live without them feelings that those girlfriends in those years brings.

The next best friend I had was Ernie Choice. Ernie and I met as co-workers at the Furman University dining hall. Furman was just down the road from Travelers Rest, SC (known as TR to the locals) where we moved in 1976. My mom went to work there shortly after we moved to TR. Working at the dining hall was my first job. I was a custodial engineer there at the dining hall and Ernie, about two years older than me worked in the room where they washed all the huge utensils and pots used in the cooking of food for the 2,000 students at the university. We just became fast friends in the break room and sitting on the loading dock during breaks and so on. We began to hang out together outside of work. It became a friendship that saw me through thick and thin. Ernie was just one of those guys that you could call and he would be right there for you. He was there with me through the tough times of when a marriage ends and picking up the pieces of your life. He was always there when times were tough. We did single guy stuff together. We did married guy stuff together. We did stupid stuff together. We had profound conversations together. He was the guy that I would tell my deepest darkest secrets to. He was my best friend. Although we do not talk much anymore just because of busy and different lives now. There was that season of 30 plus years of friendship. I am sure that, even though I have not spent time with him now in about 4 or 5 years, that we could pick our friendship back up in a moment’s notice.

The most recent best friend that I have had is Humberto Perez. We met at the men’s weekly life group at LifeSong Church in Lyman, SC where we just moved away from. He was my first best friend since I became a Christ follower that did not know me before my salvation. Humbert and I became fast friends because we have the same kind of ironic, sarcastic and sometimes 15 year old boy sense of humor. Because we were both Christ followers, there was a uniqueness to this friendship that my previous “best friend” relationships. I think that I got more honest and real with Humbert than I have with any of my other guy friends. Maybe, it was age and maturity. Maybe, it was being a Christ follower and no longer wishing to be anything less than transparent. But Humbert is my homeboy. He lives 900 plus miles away from me now and I miss him dearly. As Tom Cruise said to Ken Watanabe at the end of the movie, The Last Samurai, “I am going to miss…our conversations!” I miss my conversations with my bro, Humberto. Because God called me and my wife to Illinois, I do not know what will happen with our friendship. I know from experience that distance and separate lives can cause guy friendships to drift apart and die. But I will forever be appreciative of the past 7 years that Humbert and I have been friends. He has told me I was full of it when I needed to hear and I have done the same for him. It was and is the realest guy friendship that I have ever had. I know that he would drive 900 miles right now at the drop of a hat to be with me if I needed him here in Moline for whatever reason. He knows all my warts and pimples and is still my best friend. He knows my fears and failures and is still by best friend. That’s a friend. That’s a guy friend!

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage/chapter again. I thought about the close friendship that David and Jonathan had. It was thicker than blood relationships. It was a lifelong friendship. It was one of those guy friendships that guys hope to have at some point in their lives. Let’s read the passage now together for the third of three reads:

Chapter 23
1 One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. 2 David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?”

“Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him.

3 But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!”

4 So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”

5 So David and his men went to Keilah. They slaughtered the Philistines and took all their livestock and rescued the people of Keilah. 6 Now when Abiathar son of Ahimelech fled to David at Keilah, he brought the ephod with him.

7 Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” 8 So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men.

9 But David learned of Saul’s plan and told Abiathar the priest to bring the ephod and ask the Lord what he should do. 10 Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?[a] And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.”

And the Lord said, “He will come.”

12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?”

And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.”

13 So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all. 14 David now stayed in the strongholds of the wilderness and in the hill country of Ziph. Saul hunted him day after day, but God didn’t let Saul find him.

15 One day near Horesh, David received the news that Saul was on the way to Ziph to search for him and kill him. 16 Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God. 17 “Don’t be afraid,” Jonathan reassured him. “My father will never find you! You are going to be the king of Israel, and I will be next to you, as my father, Saul, is well aware.” 18 So the two of them renewed their solemn pact before the Lord. Then Jonathan returned home, while David stayed at Horesh.

19 But now the men of Ziph went to Saul in Gibeah and betrayed David to him. “We know where David is hiding,” they said. “He is in the strongholds of Horesh on the hill of Hakilah, which is in the southern part of Jeshimon. 20 Come down whenever you’re ready, O king, and we will catch him and hand him over to you!”

21 “The Lord bless you,” Saul said. “At last someone is concerned about me! 22 Go and check again to be sure of where he is staying and who has seen him there, for I know that he is very crafty. 23 Discover his hiding places, and come back when you are sure. Then I’ll go with you. And if he is in the area at all, I’ll track him down, even if I have to search every hiding place in Judah!” 24 So the men of Ziph returned home ahead of Saul.

Meanwhile, David and his men had moved into the wilderness of Maon in the Arabah Valley south of Jeshimon. 25 When David heard that Saul and his men were searching for him, he went even farther into the wilderness to the great rock, and he remained there in the wilderness of Maon. But Saul kept after him in the wilderness.

26 Saul and David were now on opposite sides of a mountain. Just as Saul and his men began to close in on David and his men, 27 an urgent message reached Saul that the Philistines were raiding Israel again. 28 So Saul quit chasing David and returned to fight the Philistines. Ever since that time, the place where David was camped has been called the Rock of Escape.[b] 29 [c]David then went to live in the strongholds of En-gedi.

In this chapter/passage, we see that as true friends Jonathan and David were more than just companions who enjoyed each other’s company. They encouraged each other’s faith in God and they trusted each other with their deepest thoughts and closest confidences. These are the marks of true friendship. Not all of us have a friend like that. Maybe some of us have a friend like that for a time. I know I have.

When we find one of these guy friendships, we should consider ourselves lucky. They may last a lifetime and they may not. We should treasure those friendships while we have them. Sometimes, they are moments in time never to be recaptured again. But those friends, those best friends are the ones we have our best memories with. Those are the ones that know all our darkest secrets and still are hanging around. Those friends are the ones that know the real us. Those are the friends that will be there for you in a moments notice. If you had to make that one phone call to a friend to get you out of a jam or to come pick you up when everything has fallen apart, who would that be. Who would ask no questions and just come pick you up. Who is THAT guy friend?

The only thing that I can compare to that is what Jesus means to us. He knows us. He knows better than a best friend what our deepest, darkest secrets are. And He still loves us anyway. He will be there for us when everybody has abandoned us. He knows the real us. He is there when the chips are down and we have failed and we are in a bad light. He knows us. He loves us despite us. He will tell us when we are full of it and kick us in the rear when we need it. He is the best of the best of the best friends that a guy … or a gal … can have.

Amen and Amen.

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