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“Grandpa, Edward’s not being nice,” complained five-year-old Sammy with a frown.

“I just said,” began Edward, “that he wouldn’t be my friend if he didn’t play nicely.”

Grandpa looked at the two boys thoughtfully. Then he said, “If you get Alice, I will tell you a story about two boys that lived long ago. It is called:

A True Friend

(Reference: 1 Samuel 18-20.)

Jonathan was a prince that loved God. His father, Saul, was a proud king and did not obey God, even though God had made him king over all Israel. King Saul wanted his son to be great and strong like him. “After me,” he said to Jonathan, “you will be king.”

But God had chosen someone else, a boy named David, to be the next king. One day Jonathan met David, the shepherd boy. An enemy giant had made all King Saul’s army very afraid, but David had not been afraid. He had trusted in God to help him, and killed the great giant with a rock and a sling. When Jonathan saw the brave shepherd boy, he wanted to be his friend. He saw that David loved God and wanted to do what was right. Jonathan wanted a friend like that.

David and Jonathan became good friends—closer even than brothers are. Jonathan loved the brave shepherd and wanted to share everything with him. “Here is my robe and sword,” he said. “I want you to keep them as a promise of our friendship.”

It was not long before King Saul hated David. David won many battles over their enemies, which made King Saul jealous. But Jonathan was not jealous. He loved David and was glad that God was helping him. Everyone else liked David, too. King Saul began to be afraid that David might try to become king.

“Come,” he said to Jonathan, “and we shall kill David.”

“Why?” Jonathan asked. “He hasn’t done anything wrong.” But King Saul only got angrier. Jonathan was worried for his friend. He warned David about his father’s plan so that he could escape. This happened several times.

Soon King Saul got very angry with Jonathan and said, “You are a very bad son! All we have is trouble since you’ve been David’s friend! How will you ever become king if he lives?” But Jonathan was not upset that David would become king instead of him. He loved David so much that he didn’t mind if he was liked better.

So Jonathan went to warn David one last time. Jonathan was very sad, but he knew that his friend would have to hide if he would be safe. “Go in peace,” he said to David. “Remember our promise that we will be friends forever, for the Lord will be between us.”

“So what do you think?” Grandpa asked, when the story was finished. “How did Jonathan act like a true friend to David?”

“ ’Cause he gave him his sword and robe,” said Sammy.

“What else?” said Grandpa. “Did he get upset when everyone else liked David?”

Edward shook his head slowly. “He was happy and kind.”

“Even when he knew that David would be king instead,” added ten-year-old Alice. “I think that would be hard, ’cause Jonathan was really the prince.”

Grandpa smiled. “So how do you think he was able to be so kind and happy about things that David got to do? How come he didn’t complain about David not sharing?”

Edward and Samuel just looked at each other. Finally Alice said thoughtfully, “Prob’ly because they were so good friends, he just didn’t mind.”

“And because the Lord had given them His love,” Grandpa added. “It is always kind and never selfish. With His love we can be true friends, just like Jonathan was.”