Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
David: Facing the Danger
Lesson 3: A Faithful Friend
Author’s Notes: In this week’s lesson, we’re going to meet one of King Saul’s sons, Jonathan. He may very well have been heir to the throne, after Saul. And when Jonathan met a young man named David, at the palace, they became best friends. Unfortunately, that was about the same time that Saul began to be very jealous of David, making it very hard for them to remain friends. We’re going to see David and Jonathan’s friendship tested by Saul’s jealousy. But in the end, David remains forever faithful to his friend.
Lesson 3 Handout
Lesson 3 Coloring Page
Do you know what the word “faithful” means? Here are some other words that go along with faithful: loyal, devoted, steadfast. A person is considered faithful if they have proven themselves to be reliable or trustworthy. A faithful friend is someone you can count on to keep being your friend, even if things get hard.
Have any of you ever had a pet dog? Dogs have been called “man’s best friend” because of their loyalty, or faithfulness. Listen to this story of a dog who has become a Japanese legend because of his faithfulness to his master:
In 1924, a Japanese university professor brought an Akita (a large Japanese dog), named Hachiko, home with him. Every morning, as the professor headed to the train station for work, Hachiko would be there, by the door, to see him off. And at 4 o’clock, every afternoon, when the professor’s train would pull into the station, Hachiko would be there, at the train platform, waiting for him. It was only a year later that the professor had a stroke, and died while at work. Hachiko, of course, had no way of knowing that his master would not be coming home. So he faithfully went to the train station at 4 o’clock, as he did every day, only to search the faces of those getting off the train…none of them being his master. The following day, at 4 o’clock, Hachiko was at the station again, looking for his master in the sea of faces stepping from the train. Legend has it that for ten years (until his own death) this faithful companion continued to meet the 4 o’clock train every day, hoping to see the master he loved so much. The station master was so moved by Hachiko’s loyalty that he began leaving food out for him. And many of the local people who passed through the station were also moved by Hachiko’s example of faithfulness. In fact, a bronze statue of this faithful dog was installed at the train station. And when the original statue was destroyed in World War II, the artist’s son created a new statue, so the legend of this faithful friend would not be lost. They say the statue is there, to this day, still looking for the professor to come home.*
Now, that is an example of great faithfulness!
Our lesson, today, is about two young men who became best friends. But their friendship was tested many times because of one man’s jealousy. The two young men were David, who we’ve been learning about over the past couple of weeks, and one of King Saul’s sons, named Jonathan. And the one who became jealous, and tried to destroy their friendship was none other than the king… Jonathan’s father.
We’re going to see, in today’s lesson, the hardships they faced, as they vowed to remain friends. And we’re also going to learn the true meaning of faithfulness, since David never let go of his love for his friend Jonathan.
Our memory verse for today describes true and faithful friendship, just like the kind between David and Jonathan. Let’s learn the verse together.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Proverbs 17:17
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the examples of Your faithful servants that we find in Your Word, the Bible. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: David is a Faithful Friend (1 Samuel)
When does a friend love? Only when things are going well? What did our verse say? It says that a friend loves “at all times.” And that includes the good days, and the bad ones; when it’s easy, and when it’s hard. We’re going to learn, today, about a young man who loved his friend at all times, even those tough times.
Do you remember the young man we’ve been studying the last two weeks? He was a good shepherd to his flock. And he wasn’t afraid to stand up to a giant, in battle. What was his name? His name was David. And he was just a simple shepherd boy from the town of Bethlehem… until he killed a giant! Then, suddenly, everyone in the nation of Israel knew his name.
David became so popular, in fact, that King Saul wouldn’t let him go back to Bethlehem. He insisted that David stay with him, from then on, in Jerusalem. And that’s where we’ll start today’s Scripture reading.
(1 Samuel 17:58 – 18:1-16)
58 And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of thy servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.
1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.
2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house.
3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul.
4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
While living at the palace, David met a new friend. His name was Jonathan. And we’ll find in chapter 19 that Jonathan was one of King Saul’s sons. He was royalty! But from the minute he met David, Jonathan seemed to recognize that there was something special about him. So even though he was not from a royal or wealthy family, Jonathan wanted to be his friend.
In fact, Jonathan and David quickly became the best of friends. Jonathan even showed how much he liked David by giving him some of his royal clothes and weapons. He liked David so much that he wanted to share what he had with him.
And did you hear, in the reading, what Jonathan and David did to seal their friendship? It says they “made a covenant.” That means they made a special promise to always remain friends. Have you ever made a promise like that to a friend? God’s Word tells us that it’s important to keep our promises, especially when we make a vow or covenant with someone. We are supposed to do everything in our power to make sure we abide by that promise. Now, the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what that covenant was. We only know that it meant both David and Jonathan took their friendship very seriously. They intended to remain friends forever!
Unfortunately, not everyone in the family liked David as much as Jonathan did. Let’s continue reading and find out who had a growing dislike for David, and why.
5 And David went out whithersoever Saul sent him, and behaved himself wisely: and Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people, and also in the sight of Saul's servants.
6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of musick.
7 And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.
David was beginning to gain a lot of attention and favor in Israel. Who are some of the groups that liked him? It says he was accepted by all the people, including the men of war who served under him, Saul’s own servants, and the women who were there to greet the soldiers returning from war.
In fact, if you listened to what the women said, who was becoming more popular in Israel, the king? Or David? David was getting far more popular. And King Saul quickly noticed. How do you think the king felt about David’s favor among the people? Do you think he was proud of the young man he had brought from Bethlehem? Let’s find out.
8 And Saul was very wroth, and the saying displeased him; and he said, They have ascribed unto David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed but thousands: and what can he have more but the kingdom?
9 And Saul eyed David from that day and forward.
Does it sound like Saul was happy for David, and his rise in the hearts of Israel? No! Saul was jealous of David’s popularity. Saul wanted to be the one the women praised most highly. He wanted to be the one Israel looked to as their national hero. And as David’s popularity continued to grow, so did Saul’s jealousy; until one day he couldn’t hold it back, anymore.
10 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the evil spirit from God came upon Saul, and he prophesied in the midst of the house: and David played with his hand, as at other times: and there was a javelin in Saul's hand.
Do you remember from our past lessons how before David killed Goliath, he had been asked to come to the palace to play music for King Saul, when he was upset. It appears that even after David became a giant-slayer and hero, he continued to play for Saul when he was upset. And that’s what he was doing on this occasion. Only this time, it didn’t calm Saul down. It seemed to make things worse. Would you like to guess what Saul did with that javelin in his hand?
11 And Saul cast the javelin; for he said, I will smite David even to the wall with it. And David avoided out of his presence twice.
12 And Saul was afraid of David, because the Lord was with him, and was departed from Saul.
13 Therefore Saul removed him from him, and made him his captain over a thousand; and he went out and came in before the people.
What did Saul try to do to David? He tried to kill him with the javelin; but missed. And David was able to escape. But Saul did not go after him. Did you hear why? Saul recognized that God was with David, and would be protecting him. And though he was very jealous, he was still able to realize that if he raised his hand, again, against David, he would be raising his hand against God.
But Saul also could not stand to have David around him, anymore. So he sent him out on a military campaign. And, once again, David was out mingling with the people of Israel, continuing to gain their favor by the way he acted toward them. And Saul continued to keep a close eye on how David was received by the people. What Saul found, time after time, was this:
16 But all Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and came in before them.
For a time, things got somewhat back to normal in the palace. David spent most of his time away from Saul, and with the army. And Saul continued to watch David’s progress from a distance. But as David only grew even more popular, King Saul could no longer stand to know that he was even alive. So he ordered the execution of David; and he gave that order to none other than David’s best friend, Jonathan. That left Jonathan with quite a dilemma: to obey the orders of his father, or remain faithful to his friend David.
How do you think you would feel in his position? Especially knowing what a temper King Saul had. Probably everyone in the palace knew that he had tried to kill David the last time he was there. Do you think Saul might do the same to others who refused his orders? Do you think Jonathan wondered the same thing? Standing up to his father, in defense of his friend, could cost Jonathan his life, if Saul was in one of his terrible moods.
But Jonathan remained a faithful friend, and valued his friendship with David more than his own life. So he found David, and warned him of his father’s intentions. Then Jonathan tried to convince his father to change his mind about David. Do you think it worked? Let’s find out.
(1 Samuel 19)
1 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David.
2 But Jonathan Saul's son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself:
3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee.
4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good:
5 For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?
Jonathan reminded Saul of all that David had done for the nation of Israel – how he had put his own life in danger to rid Israel of their enemy, Goliath. He also pointed out that David had always been good to Saul. Then Jonathan boldly pointed out that Saul’s plan was wrong. What did he call it? Jonathan said it would be a sin! Those are pretty powerful words, especially when directed to a king. But believe it or not, Saul’s heart softened a little at the words of his son. And he changed his mind.
6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the Lord liveth, he shall not be slain.
7 And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things. And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in times past.
Yes, Saul had a change of heart. And it meant that Jonathan and David would be able to spend some time together without fearing what Saul might do. But Saul’s change of heart didn’t last long. All it took was another winning battle for David, and Saul was right back to his old, jealous self.
8 And there was war again: and David went out, and fought with the Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from him.
9 And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin in his hand: and David played with his hand.
10 And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin: but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
11 Saul also sent messengers unto David's house, to watch him, and to slay him in the morning: and Michal David's wife told him, saying, If thou save not thy life to night, to morrow thou shalt be slain.
What did Saul try to do to David, again? He tried to kill him with his javelin. And again, David got away. But this time, Saul didn’t want to let him escape. What were Saul’s orders to his messengers? They were to follow David to his home, and kill him in the morning.
But David’s wife happened to be another of Saul’s children. And she knew what her father planned to do. So she helped David escape during the night, because she loved him.
So David had to run away, to escape Saul’s messengers. And that meant he would also be leaving his friend Jonathan. This was such a difficult decision that Jonathan and David wanted to make sure it was really necessary… that there was no other choice. So Jonathan came up with a plan. He would once again talk to his father about David, and see whether there was any chance he might, again, change his mind.
But Jonathan would need a way to let David know whether or not it was safe to return to the palace. So he devised this plan:
(1 Samuel 20)
18 Then Jonathan said to David, To morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
19 And when thou hast stayed three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt remain by the stone Ezel.
20 And I will shoot three arrows on the side thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
21 And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, Go, find out the arrows. If I expressly say unto the lad, Behold, the arrows are on this side of thee, take them; then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no hurt; as the Lord liveth.
22 But if I say thus unto the young man, Behold, the arrows are beyond thee; go thy way: for the Lord hath sent thee away.
23 And as touching the matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the Lord be between thee and me for ever.
So David was supposed to stay away from the palace for three days. And during that time, Jonathan would watch to see how his father reacted to David’s absence. If Saul missed David, and wanted him to come back, Jonathan would shoot his arrows short of the target (which would be near David’s hiding place), and tell the lad with him to go and bring them back. That would be David’s signal that it was safe to return with him to the palace. But if Saul became very angry at David’s absence, then Jonathan would shoot the arrows beyond his mark, that would be his signal that it was not safe to return.
Then, before leaving, Jonathan took a moment to reaffirm his friendship with David. Perhaps he sensed that his friend, David, might indeed have to leave him. And he wanted to make sure David knew just how much he loved him. So they made this promise:
13 …and the Lord be with thee, as he hath been with my father.
14 And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the Lord, that I die not:
15 But also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of David every one from the face of the earth.
16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord even require it at the hand of David's enemies.
17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
Jonathan made a very important statement about the future of the kingdom of Israel. If things progressed as they normally do, who do you think would be the next king of Israel? Jonathan would be the next likely king, after his father. But Jonathan seemed to recognize that this was not God’s plan. God had chosen David. And he knew that because he saw that the Lord was with David like He used to be with Saul.
He also mentioned that God would be destroying David’s enemies. And who was David’s biggest enemy? It was Saul. Jonathan eye’s were wide open to the facts before him. And he understood that the time was coming when God would remove Saul from his throne, to put David there, instead. He also seemed to realize that this would probably mean death for Saul, and maybe for more of the family. Maybe even for himself!
So Jonathan asked David, his friend, to make him one more promise. He asked David to make sure the kindness between their families would go on, even after Jonathan was gone. And David was glad to make that promise. After all, they were the best of friends, and David wanted nothing but the very best for Jonathan and his family.
Once they David and Jonathan made their covenant, or promise, to each other, Jonathan left to put his plan into action. Just as Jonathan had suggested, David stayed away from the palace. And sure enough, King Saul noticed the empty place at the table. Jonathan watched carefully to see how he would react. Then the moment of truth arrived.
Saul asked his son, Jonathan, why David wasn’t in his place at the table. And when Jonathan began to make an excuse for David’s absence, Saul became very angry with Jonathan. He became so angry, in fact, that he once again grabbed his javelin, this time throwing it at his own son. At that moment, Jonathan knew there was no hope for David’s return. Saul would never get over his intense jealousy and hatred. So it would never be safe for David to return, as long as Saul was alive.
It was time for Jonathan to deliver the sad news to David. So just as he said, he took a lad out with him for target practice. The lad never knew the true reason they were there. But David did. He heard them coming, and anxiously awaited word from his friend. But the message was to be a heart-wrenching one.
35 And it came to pass in the morning, that Jonathan went out into the field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him.
36 And he said unto his lad, Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot. And as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.
37 And when the lad was come to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after the lad, and said, Is not the arrow beyond thee?
38 And Jonathan cried after the lad, Make speed, haste, stay not. And Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master.
39 But the lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.
Where did Jonathan shoot the arrow? Beyond the lad. And what did that tell David? That it was not safe to return. He was going to have to leave, or Saul would have him hunted down, and killed. So Jonathan sent the lad back to the city so he could say goodbye to his friend. And it was a very tearful goodbye, since David and Jonathan knew they might never see each other again.
40 And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, Go, carry them to the city.
41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
42 And Jonathan said to David, Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, The Lord be between me and thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever. And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.
After saying their goodbyes, Jonathan was finally able to let David go. What made him able to do that? He remembered the promise they had made to each other. And that the Lord would be watching over both of them.
Sadly, this was the last recorded time that David and Jonathan ever saw each other. Some time later, Saul and his three sons, including Jonathan, were killed in a battle against the Philistines. And David mourned for him like a member of his own family. Listen to David’s reaction to the news of Jonathan’s death.
(2 Samuel 1)
11 Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all the men that were with him:
12 And they mourned, and wept, and fasted until even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the sword.
17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son:
18 (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)
19 The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty fallen!
25 How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou wast slain in thine high places.
26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me...
David had lost his very best friend. What did he do so the people of Judah would remember Jonathan? He had all of the children of Judah taught to use the bow and arrow, since Jonathan had been so well know for his marksmanship with the bow and arrow. In this way, David was able to keep the memory of Jonathan alive.
And a few years later, David had an opportunity to honor Jonathan’s memory in another way. Do you remember the promise Jonathan asked David to make? He asked David to promise to show kindness to his family, even after he was gone. So once David became King of Israel, one of the first things he did was to find out if any of Jonathan’s family was still alive. He wanted to remain a faithful friend to Jonathan, even though he was gone.
David’s servants learned that Jonathan did have a son named Mephibosheth. He was lame because of an injury he sustained when the news of Jonathan’s death came; and his nurse fled with him for fear that he, too, might be in danger. As soon as David learned that Jonathan’s son was still alive, he immediately sent messengers to have him brought to the palace. David wanted to keep his promise to Jonathan, and knew he could do that by showing kindness to Mephibosheth.
So Mephibosheth went to live in the palace with David, and ate at his table like one of David’s own family. And in having Jonathan’s son there, David remained a faithful friend to Jonathan… just as he had promised.
Do you have many faithful friends who would stand by your side, no matter what? Most of us will only have a few friends like that over our lifetime. But did you know that if you are saved, if you’ve asked Jesus to come into your heart and life, that you have a faithful Friend who’s there with you all the time, wherever you go? He’s a friend who has promised, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5b) And the Bible describes Him as “a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24b)
Who do you think that friend might be? It’s Jesus! Just before He died on the cross for our sins, Jesus told His disciples that they should no longer look at Him as just a master or teacher. He wanted them to know that they could now consider Him to be their friend. He told them that the sign of their friendship would be their desire to obey His commandments. Jesus said, “You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:14) Because that’s what faithful friends of God do. They trust Him to have their very best in mind, so they obey what He tells them, in the Bible, to do.
Can God call you a faithful friend? And do you know Him as your faithful friend? If not, He can become that, today! All you have to do is invite Him to be your Savior, Lord, and Friend.
Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Jesus to be our Savior and our Friend. How wonderful it is to know that we can have a Friend who will be with us forever, no matter where we go. If there’s anyone here, today, who does not have Jesus as their Savior and Friend, please open their hearts today, to invite Him in. For I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Jonathan and David stopped being friends when Saul became angry. (false – they made a covenant to remain friends)
2. Saul tried to kill Jonathan when he made an excuse for David’s absence. (true)
3. Saul and Jonathan were both killed in a battle with the Philistines. (true)
4. David had the children of Judah taught to use slingshots, to remember Jonathan. (false – they were taught to use the bow and arrow)
5. David remained a faithful friend to Jonathan, even after Jonathan’s death. (true)