What does the Bible say about the term friend?
The answer? It’s a covenant.
In ancient, Hebrew times, Israel needed to make treaties with certain nations in order to be in agreement with them for several reasons and would enact a covenant.
Covenants were made between individuals, between a king and his people, between two groups or nations, or between God and a man or His people. Not only a treaty of peace, covenant was an agreement or alliance of marriage or friendship.
This agreement required each party to make promises, which were sealed with signs, pledges, or oaths and were never to be broken – ever!
The sacrifice of flesh most often ratified covenant. It was a very serious action taken to solidify one’s agreement with another. The animal’s flesh was cut in two and then the two agreeing parties walked through the pieces of flesh, which was a walk into death, meaning that death was the result for breaking covenant.
Abiding by the conditions ruled each partner’s relationship. This agreement consisted of a full-coverage policy blanketing not only the covenant participant but also his entire household. So, if one died, the benefits and blessings of covenant were still extended to the rest of the family. At the conclusion of cutting covenant, each participant was considered to be a friend.
Over the centuries, the covenant understanding of friend has completely lost its meaning. To comprehend it a little better, let’s take a peek at the most revealing and tender of all covenants of friendship between those in the Bible…that of David and Jonathan.
Scripture says that “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul…Then Jonathan and David made a covenant…And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.” (1 Sam. 18:1, 3a, 4 NKJV)
In essence, he stripped himself of all his personal possessions, essentially naked to the world, defenseless and vulnerable, giving it all to David, and laid down his life for his friend. This was the covenant exchange.
In this exchange, when the occasional trading of robes took place, it meant that identities and authorities were interchanged, symbolic of “putting on” the other, which irreversibly connected the two as one in an eternal bond of covenant friendship.
From time to time, an exchange of weapons would take place, symbolizing protection against the other’s enemies. It was an inherent obligation to lay down one’s life, if necessary, to defend and protect the other from his enemies, as Jonathan did for David when Saul sought to kill David. Jonathan vowed to protect David and David was bound to reciprocate.
The definition of ‘ransom’ means that which is given in exchange for another as the price of his redemption. As Jesus gave Himself for our redemption and walked out that covenant-walk of death, we join Him in agreement, becoming His covenant partner and friend, for He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me,” (John 14:6 NKJV) through His sacrifice of flesh.
In His covenant exchange, Jesus stripped off His earthly robe of habitation and laid down His life for us as His friends. This was the exchange of identities, and, when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ, our spotted garment of sin becomes His and His robe of righteousness becomes ours, irreversibly connecting us in an eternal bond of covenant friendship.
*Jesus stated, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NKJV) A friend will readily exchange his life for his covenant partner’s life.
So, is Jesus your BFF?
***Hope you don’t mind this dusted off oldie, updated with some images.
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