healthy communal identity
This article is an article from bible study tools and can be read in full here.
David was a shepherd; Jonathan was a prince. Jonathan had his own armor; David had a harp and a slingshot. Jonathan grew up in the palace and was trained in the art of war; David grew up in the “little town of Bethlehem” and was trained to tend sheep. Jonathan was the oldest son and in line to inherit the throne; David was the youngest of eight boys and anointed the next king in place of Jonathan. Jonathan was of the tribe of Benjamin; David the tribe of Judah. Despite their differences, they were, arguably, the best friends the world has ever known.
We have all heard the epic story of young David’s miraculous victory against Goliath, the Philistine giant, taking him down with only a stone and a sling (1 Samuel 17:50). Before that happened, however, Jonathan and his armor bearer alone killed 20 Philistines (14:14), after which God caused a panic resulting in the Philistine army “melting away in all directions” (14:16) allowing Saul and his men to defeat them.
An Unlikely Friendship
Jonathan, already a great man of war, likely met the young David in the palace on one of the many occasions that David was called upon to play the harp, or lyre, for the emotionally tormented King Saul. (“David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem” 1 Samuel 17:15). Their friendship began though soon after David slew Goliath.
“As soon as David returned from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with David still holding the Philistine’s head. . . . After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself” (1 Samuel 17:57, 18:1).
Imagine Jonathan’s first impressions of the young musician/giant slayer: warrior by day, song writer by night. It isn’t often in life that your hero is younger than you, but this was the case for Jonathan. David was a hero. He could soothe the king, defeat the enemy, and cause the ladies to swoon.
Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well. When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:5-7).
While most men in Jonathan’s shoes would have felt jealous and threatened, Jonathan saw what God saw in David: “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). And David was “a man after God’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). David often gets recognition for his heart for God, but Jonathan clearly had a depth of spiritual insight and discernment worth mentioning and remembering.
Commonalities That Bonded Them Together
Jonathan and David came from very different backgrounds, but they had a few key things in common: They were both warriors, they were men of faith who served the living God, they were provided with God-given courage and strength, and they needed each other.
A Covenant Friendship
They became fast friends and sealed their friendship with an oath.
And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt (1 Samuel 18:1-4).
Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever’” (1 Samuel 20:42).
We know a few other things from the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. We know that David married Jonathan’s sister, Michal, and became Jonathan’s brother-in-law (1 Samuel 18:27). Jonathan ended up protecting David and saving his life (19:1-6, 20:1-42). David was chosen by God and appointed to replace Saul as king of Israel instead of Jonathan, and still Jonathan loved David (20:31). Only a true friend could make this statement: “You will be king over Israel, and I will be second to you” (23:17). After Jonathan’s death, David wrote him a lament, or funeral dirge, in which he, once again, expressed his deep and undying love:
“Saul and Jonathan--
in life they were loved and admired,
and in death they were not parted.
They were swifter than eagles,
they were stronger than lions.
How the mighty have fallen in battle!
Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
you were very dear to me.
Your love for me was wonderful,
more wonderful than that of women.”
(2 Samuel 1:23, 25-26)
In Jonathan’s honor, David cared for his son, Mephibosheth (lame in both feet), who ate at David’s table “like one of the king’s sons” (2 Samuel 9:11).
in your journal answer:
-Who are your true friends?
-Do your friendships look like David and Jonathan?
-What did you learn about friendships?
Read John 15:13-15 and reflect on who you let influence you through friendship. Are your friends like David and Jonathan? How can you make or be a friend like Jonathan was to David?
Unhealthy communal identity
This article is from Stylist.co.uk and has been edited for this blog. It is not a Christian post and is directed to teen/young adult females but fits our discussion on Identity well.
Do you ever feel like you are losing yourself to a relationship? Does it sometimes feel like you are pouring all your time and energy into a friendship to the point where you are losing your sense of self?
You’re not alone. Researchers writing in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships have found that intensely close friendships can lead to a small but perceptible loss of identity. The study, which surveyed a small group of people, found that you take more time distinguishing between your face and an intimate friend than you do a celebrity’s face.
The research confirms what previous studies have posited: that friendships can become a tightly knit part of your own identity. You share memories and milestones, sometimes your thoughts and tastes begin to align. It’s why close friends can end up buying the same dress. Think of it as your personalities syncing up.
So far, so sweet, right? But there’s a dark side to the enmeshing of lives that is a close friendship. For every intimate and equal partnership there’s an unequal opposite. It’s in these relationships that the loss of self takes on a more sinister turn.
As one friend does all the companionship heavy lifting, organizing every brunch and listening to every single grievance in their friend’s life, they start to sacrifice their sense of self and needs while receiving nothing back.
For every good, close friendship there’s a bad one
This is friendship as self-abnegation.
Isabella, 28, experienced a friendship like this when she was a teenager. In the early years of high school she began spending time with a bunch of girls who called themselves her ‘friends’ but were “honestly awful”, Isabella says.
“The ringleader would belittle and gaslight us and it made for an extremely competitive and stressful friend group dynamic,” Isabella recalls. And yet, Isabella continued to devote time and energy to these relationships, working desperately hard for their approval. It wasn’t until her mother sat her down and talked to her that Isabella realized how she was losing her sense of self to the relationship. “I’d become a shell of myself,” she admits. Soon afterwards she met a new group of friends that she remains close with to this day.
Isabella’s example is an extreme, toxic one, but it’s possible for even the best, closest friendships to turn sour.
For Tess, 34, it took a wedding and a turn as a bridesmaid for one of her best friends to realize how much of herself she had lost in pursuit of another woman’s love. “I spent a year completely miserable, trying to be a good bridesmaid for my friend,” Tess tells Stylist.co.uk.
She answered her friend’s every whim, going above and beyond what was asked of her to make sure her friend had a special day. When the big day finally rolled around the bride didn’t thank Tess for her hard work, which made Tess feel even worse about herself.
When bridesmaid duty turns ugly
After the wedding was over Tess decided to gift herself some time off from the relationship and stopped texting her friend for catchups. “I didn’t hear from her for ages,” she says. “I wasn’t surprised, but I was upset.”
In the intervening months between seeing each other Tess rediscovered some of her self-confidence and was able to tell her friend how used and ill-supported she had felt. Today, she says, their relationship is on a more equal footing, “but I don’t think we’ll ever be as close as we had been,” Tess admits.
Realizing that you’re knee-deep in a toxic relationship is the first step. Understanding the impact that it is having on your sense of self is the next.
“When you accept poor treatment from someone, it is usually because you don’t value yourself or have high self-esteem to begin with,” Kelly Campbell, an associate professor of psychology at California State University has said. “Keeping those people in your life can further decrease an already fragile sense of self.”
Weeding out toxic friendships is hard and requires a strong sense of self to begin with. Follow Tess’ example and give yourself distance from a difficult relationship before cutting it out. Do as Isabella did and use that distance to think about what a good, healthy friendship looks like to you.
“I’ve always thought of it as two people both reaching across the divide and meeting in the middle,” Isabella says, of friendship. “Two people both being there to support each other, regardless of time or distance. Knowing in the worst and most painful moments in life that you have an unwavering support system who will back you no matter what the circumstances is truly priceless.”
Think of it this way: a true friend isn’t someone who will leech onto you. They’re not someone who will demand so much of yourself from you. The best kind of friend is resolutely their own person, and wants you to be, too. Instead of occupying the same space as you they’ll stand right beside you, in support.
-How do your friends shape who you are?
-How do your online friends shape who you are?
Make a list of what a great friend looks like. Ask yourself two things. First do you have a friend that fits your list? Second do you fit into your own list?
This post is easy but requires a few steps.
1. Go to https://assessment.yourenneagramcoach.com
This is a personality test. Take note of the number (1-9) that you are labeled.
2. Go to https://saturatetheworld.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Enneagram-Spiritual-Formation-Plan.pdf
Find your number and read about how your personality relates to spirituality.
In your journal and the comments answer:
- What number did you get?
-Do you think this number matches you well?
- How does knowing about your personality help/hinder you in connecting with God?
If you were interested in the enneagram more check out: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com
Try out a different personality test at: https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
David and Sauls Armor
You can read the full story in 1 Samuel 17. Below is the scripture in a more “story like” telling. Notice the bolded section.
While Saul was king, God’s people faced many enemies. When the Philistines challenged, Saul gathered his own army to march out and meet them. The two armies camped on opposite hills across the valley of Elah. Each morning and evening, the Philistines sent out a tall, hulking man named Goliath to challenge the Israelites.
“Hey, you pigs!” Goliath mocked. “I dare you to send a man to fight me!” The Israelites shook in fear at the sight of Goliath’s heavy spear.
“If your man fights me and wins,” thundered Goliath, “we’ll be your slaves. But if I crush him like a cockroach, you’ll be our slaves.”
The Israelites were scared to death—including three men from Bethlehem, Jesse’s eldest sons Eliab, Abinandab, and Shammah.
“That monster isn’t even human. He’s a giant!” Eliab moaned. “No soldier could fight him,” Abinadab agreed.
“No army could fight him,” Shammah added.
Meanwhile, their youngest brother, David, had stayed behind in Bethlehem to watch their father’s sheep. But after the brothers had been gone for more than a month, Jesse called for David.
“Take bread and cheese and grain to your brothers in the camp,” Jesse told his youngest son. “See how they’re doing and come back to tell me.”
“I’m on it, Dad!” David exclaimed.
Early the next morning, David gathered up the food supplies and traveled quickly to the army camp. He arrived as the soldiers were taking battle positions on each side. He hurried along the Israelite line until he found his brothers.
“Hey!” David called out. “Dad wants to know how it’s going. You guys done any fighting yet? Who’s winning?”
The brothers glared at him. “Chill out, okay?” Eliab snapped.
Just then, Goliath stepped out as usual from the Philistine line and issued his twice-a-day challenge. “Hey, you pickled toads! I dare you to send a man to fight me!”
David stared in amazement. “Who does this guy think he is, talking to God’s people like that?!” He turned for an answer, but all around, Israelite soldiers were fleeing in panic—including David’s brothers.
David hurried to catch up with a few stragglers. “Goliath is putting God’s people to shame!” he shouted. “Who does he think he is? Someone’s got to stop this.”
Eliab overheard David. “Why did you even come, you little pipsqueak?” he growled. “You just want to sit around and watch.”
“What have I done now?” David asked. “Can’t I even say anything?”
King Saul heard about the things David was saying and sent for him. The king crossed his arms and studied the young shepherd. “So you think Goliath is putting us to shame?” he asked. “Don’t let anyone lose hope because of that Philistine,” David urged. “I’ll go out and fight him!” Saul couldn’t help laughing. “You?! You’re far too young.”
“Watching sheep isn’t easy, Your Majesty,” David answered. “Sometimes a lion or bear tries to steal one away. I grab it by the hair and strike it down! God has helped me kill a lion and a bear—and with His help, I can take down this Philistine. God has saved me before, and He’ll save me again.”
King Saul was impressed. And frankly, he was just happy to have a volunteer. “Go,” he said at last. “And may the Lord be with you.” But after another look at David’s old tunic he added, “Here, take all my armor and weapons, too.”
Saul tried to load David down with his own battle gear—heavy armor, a bronze helmet, and a sword like a weighty tree branch. David staggered around, trying to get used to the weight. “I can’t go out there like this!” he protested as he shrugged off the armor and dropped the sword. He picked up his own wooden staff, instead. Then, he hurried down to the stream and chose five smooth stones.
David clutched his sling with sweaty hands and hurried out to the hillside where Goliath towered, mocking God’s people. The huge man laughed when he saw the young shepherd boy crossing the valley. “You think I’m only a dog?” he cackled. “Sticks and stones won’t break my bones! Come let me feed you to the wild animals!”
As David drew closer, Goliath loomed taller, nearly blocking the sky. David took a deep breath and shouted out, “You are coming to fight against me with a sword, a spear and a javelin. But I’m coming against you in the name of the Lord who rules over all.... The Lord will give me victory over you. . . . Then the whole world will know there is a God in Israel. The battle belongs to the Lord!”
Enraged, Goliath thundered down the hill to meet David—who sprinted forward. Reaching into his bag, David took out a stone and slipped it into his sling. Whipping the sling around, he fired off the stone. It hurled through the air, smacking right into Goliath’s forehead.
The mighty hulk of a man staggered forward . . . swayed . . . and fell to the earth with a ground-shaking thud. As soon as the Philistines saw their hero was dead, they turned and ran. Shouting, the Israelites raced forward. With renewed courage, they scattered the Philistines to utter defeat.
David had helped God’s people win the battle—not with weapons or a huge army, but with God’s power and the unique gifts God had given him.
In your journal answer:
- Who is someone you admire?
-What makes you want to be like them?
-What are the things that make you unique?
Take time to write in your journal. Describe ways you find yourself trying to “fit in someone else’s armor”.
Comment below any thoughts or reflections
Examine davids heart
David was called a man after God’s heart. So what does it mean to be a ‘man or woman after God’s own heart’? Let’s look at some verses that show us a bit of David’s heart
Look up these verse
Look up these verse and take note of David’s heart (Note your observations in your journal)
1 Samuel 17:37
David loved God, and he chose to live God’s way. He knew God intimately. He knew that he was to be trusted, and he chose to obey him. You may have discounted yourself – or said that ‘you’re not good enough to be used by God’. That’s not true! All of us have the capacity to serve God and to be used by God. All we need to do is to choose God’s way, and make ourselves available to God to be used by him.
There are two things that help us to choose God’s way.
Know God’s Heart for us
The first is to know God’s Heart for us. To know how much, he loves and cares for each one of us, and to know his desire to be in relationship with you. Psalm 139 is a beautiful Psalm. It speaks of God’s heart for us. It speaks of the way he has created each one of us. He formed us, and knows us each intimately. He cares for and loves us.
Maybe you think you are of little worth to God. Maybe you’ve been told by others that you are nothing. The truth is that you have been created by God – you are not overlooked by him. And your value comes from the fact that he made you and he loves you. The more we know God’s love and care for us, the easier it is to choose to live God’s way.
The second thing that will help us to develop a heart after God’s own heart is the Holy Spirit. It is God’s Spirit that empowers us and helps us to live God’s way. It is God’s Spirit that transforms us.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Ezekiel 36:26-27. It is only by the work of God’s Spirit that our hearts can be molded and shaped to become like God’s heart. So we need to allow God’s Spirit access to our hearts – to ask him to shape us into the people he wants us to be.
In your journal answer:
- Have you ever felt ‘overlooked’ or ‘forgotten’ by others?
- How do we let God’s Spirit shape and mold our hearts to become more like his?
- How does it feel to know that God doesn’t forget or overlook us (even if others do)?
Look at your “God wouldn’t use me because” list. Which item on your list (from the last post) resonates with you most? Describe ways you think this may be hindering your relationship with God. Write yourself a reminder that God created you, loves you, and has a purpose for you.
King Saul was the King before David. Up until the time when Saul became King, God’s people Israel, hadn’t had a King. They had had leaders and judges, but God was their King – this is what set them apart from other nations. But at the beginning of the book of 1 Samuel the people of Israel come to Samuel (who was their leader) and request a king.
They’ve seen that all the other nations around them have a king – they want to be like them! But by doing this they are effectively rejecting God as their King.
However, despite this, God gives them what they ask for, and Saul is chosen by God to be the first King of Israel. Saul starts out well and follows Gods way, but unfortunately throughout his time as king he becomes quite conceited and full of himself, and he begins to stop following the Lord’s commands…
Because of his disobedience and arrogance, the Lord ends up rejecting him as the King of Israel:
“You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:13-14
And so God chooses a new King – which is David
Read 1 Samuel 16:1-13
No one expected that David would be the one chosen to be King! He wasn’t even invited to join his brothers to be paraded in front of Samuel. His own Father didn’t even think that he might be the one that God had chosen!
But even though he was overlooked by people – David wasn’t overlooked or forgotten by God!! In fact, he was the one that God had chosen to be the next King of Israel.
“Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Unfortunately, as humans, we do often look at and judge things by their outward appearance. Not only can we feel overlooked by others, like David was, but sometimes we can even ‘overlook ourselves’ and think that God couldn’t possibly choose to use us to do his work – because we’re not good enough.
“After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” Acts 13:22
He was a ‘man after God’s own heart’. He was willing to follow the Lord’s commands and do things his way. That is the reason he was chosen by God to be King! Our hearts are what are most important to God. Not our outward appearances/qualities.
In a Journal answer:
- If you were going to choose a new king or leader for the country, what would be the qualities you’d be looking for in the person?
- Why did everyone overlook David?
- What are some of the ‘outward qualities’ or reasons that people can think of as reasons why God wouldn’t choose to use them?
Create a list: “God wouldn’t use me because….” (e.g. age, knowledge about God/Bible/Church, how ‘Spiritual’ we are, skills, confidence, mistakes/sin etc.)
Comment below with your reflections
Who was David?
King David, was the second king of the united kingdom of Israel and successor to King Saul. His life and reign are recorded in the Old Testament books of 1 Samuel (from chapter 16 onwards), 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings (to verse 4).
He is depicted as the most righteous of all the ancient kings of Israel although not without fault as well as a great warrior, musician and poet. He is traditionally credited with the authorship of many of the Psalms. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 states that God was so pleased with David that He promised that the Davidic line would endure forever. Jews therefore believe that the Jewish Messiah will be a direct descendant of King David. Christians trace the lineage of Jesus back to him through both Mary and Joseph.
Read about David
Grab your bible (or nearest bible app) and look up these verses about King David. In your journal take notes of what you observe.
2 Samuel 7:8-16
2 Samuel 7:29
1 Samuel 26
2 Samuel 12:13
2 Samuel 24:10
2 Samuel 17:1
1 Chronicles 18
In a Journal answer:
-How are you similar to David?
-How are you different from David?
-Where did David get his worth and identity? (Hint: Acts 3:22)
Read Psalm 23. Take time to reflect on God as a shepherd. Write, in your journal, how the ideas and words of David strike you? Is it hard to believe? Is it hard to live out? Why?
Comment below your thoughts and reflections!
Who was Saul
Saul was best known as the first King of Israel around 1046 BC.
Saul was a King and biblical figure born in the land of Benjamin in Israel. He became the first King of Israel where he united tribes and defeated enemies such as the Ammonites, Philistines, Moabites, and Amalekites. After disobeying God, elder Samuel anointed David as his replacement. Jealous of being pushed aside and the accolades bestowed upon David for slaying Goliath, Saul made several failed attempts to take David’s life.
Read about Saul
Grab your bible (or click the links below) and look up these verses about King Saul. Take note of observations
1 Samuel 10:23-24
1 Samuel 18:6-8
1 Samuel 15:23
1 Samuel 20:30-32
1 Samuel 22:11-29
1 Samuel 14:44
1 Samuel 18:9
1 Samuel 15:10-31
1 Samuel 17:11
1 Samuel 18:22
1 Samuel 16:14
To Learn More About Saul Visit: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/king-saul/
- In what ways are you similar to Saul?
-In what ways are you different from Saul?
-Where did Saul find value and identity? (hint: 1 Samuel 18:6-8)
-Draw a picture of what you imagine Saul looked like. Along with what you read above, consider the description of what you read in 1 Samuel 9:2.
From our first section of Philippians, we know that Paul is in prison. His situation does not change his mood or view of his goals. He is still seeking to advance the kingdom of God. In this next section (Philippians 1:12-26) Paul is speaking to the concern of the Philippian Christians. These people are worried and concerned about Paul. Paul writes to them by sending a report of his state. He can tell the people about how his imprisonment was allowing the Messiah to be proclaimed. In this section, Paul speaks to his confinement as either further service or death. In all of these things, he can rejoice. He understands what is important- the gospel.
Before going any further take some time to read Philippians 1:12-26 on your own.
In our own lives we claim that we prioritize certain things like family, friends, God but if we take a step back would that actually be the case. If we evaluate our time and how we spend our money, we may realize the priorities we claim to have are actually much further than what we claim. Paul is showing what his priorities are. He is not focused on his situation instead he is more concerned about how the situation is spreading the story of God.
Take a look at your phone's screen time, what apps or amount of time is a priority for you why? As a secondary experiment for the next day, or a week, keep a tracker of how you spend your time. Is the information surprising, unbelievable, or is it what you expected?
Paul is convinced that he will one day leave the prison. There are two ways that can happen. He can either be freed to continue to share the gospel or he could die and gain community with the God he loves. Either option is fine with Paul. Either the story of God is proclaimed further and longer or he gets to finally be with the author of creation. The priority for Paul though is not to get out of prison but to continue sharing the story of God. Paul makes these priorities know to those around him and those reading his letter. Outsiders know what he values and he sticks to those values.
If a friend, or stranger, looked at your life what would they say are your priorities?
God has given each of us a place. For some it is school, others have a specific roommate, some have a job in a specific field, still, others may be stay at home parents. No matter the situation God has placed you in your area for a reason and for a purpose. Paul was placed in prison for a reason and he mentions that his imprisonment allowed the imperial guards to hear of God.
Beyond the simple and easy answer (to share the gospel), why do you think God has put you where he has?
Who are the people you are supposed to reach out to? Why does it make sense for you to be that person
Finally, Paul speaks of his situation. He speaks to honoring and glorifying Christ throughout the entire situation. His prison time, maybe death, and his life leading up to those points can be and are used to bring glory to God. His entire life and perspective show that his priorities are not from selfish ambition or manipulation of others. Paul’s only goal both in life and death is to seek God and make him known.
Think again about the situations God has placed you in. Where do you find yourself afraid to share him?
What areas of your life are you unwilling to give up to God? What does this reveal about your priorities in the situation
Remember: Share the story
A Review of: Welcoming the future church