Only two men in Scripture are explicitly said to be the friend of David: Hushai (II Samuel 15:37, 16:16-17; I Chronicles 27:33) and Hiram (I Kings 5:1). Both of these men were actually Gentiles which may be why it was found necessary to state that they were friends of the king.
The language when referring to the relationship between David and King Saul’s son Jonathan is stronger than friendship. The first time they are seen together, the narrator informs “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself (I Samuel 18:1 NASB).” In fact, the two even made a covenant with one another (I Samuel 18:3, 19:8, 16, 22:8, 23:18). Jonathan even sided with his friend when his father unjustly sought to eliminate David (I Samuel 19:1-7, 20:1-29).
A man of too many friends comes to ruin,David and Jonathan were friends who stuck closer than brothers. At Jonathan’s death, David eulogized:
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24 NASB)
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;Why do you think David and Jonathan bonded so tightly? Who is your best friend? Were you to get married today, which friends would serve as your wedding party? In your opinion, what makes someone a true friend?
You have been very pleasant to me.
Your love to me was more wonderful
Than the love of women. (II Samuel 1:26 NASB)
Jonathan repeatedly demonstrated his love for David, consistently showing that he loved David as himself (I Samuel 18:1). Jonathan frequently assisted David in fleeing his father’s murderous advances. He was a big part of the mechanism by which David became king. Had David not become king, Jonathan himself would have ruled. Jonathan chose friendship over the kingdom.
The Mishnah expounds:
Whenever love depends on some selfish end, when the end passes away, the love passes away; but if it does not depend on some selfish end, it will never pass away. Which love depended on a selfish end? This was the love of Amnon and Tamar. And which did not depend on a selfish end? This was the love of David and Jonathan. (Avot 5:15)When have you placed your friends above yourself? How did you meet your friends? Do you think God was involved in the process?
“A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.” - Arnold H. Glasow (1905-1998)