Biblical Answers for Attachment

Attachment Theory

Integral to the concept of love is attachment.  However, the emotion of love is actually

just part of our attachment system that includes the biological components of attachment such as sexual and non-sexual touch as well as the emotions of love and the closeness of intimacy.  Attachment adds strength to close or intimate relationships.  However, it is possible to have an intimate relationship with someone without being attached to them; and it is possible to be attached to someone without being truly intimate with them.


Attachment is best understood in young children.  It is absolutely essential that a baby bond with its mother through physical contact and have its physical and emotional needs met during the first days of its life.  If it does not, Reaction Attachment Disorder (RAD) can occur.  Characteristics of the unbonded child include a lack of empathy and emotional connectivity, extreme self-centeredness, distrust for others, acting out in extremely destructive and vicious ways, and a lack of regret for what they have done.  RAD can be the precursor to Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.


If a child is separated from an attachment figure or the attachment figure no longer meets its needs, experiments with children shown that the child goes through three stages of detachment.  First, they protest through crying or acting out.  Second they go into despair where they withdraw, refusing to eat or interact with others; and finally, they detach and will even ignore the attachment figure when they are in need.  (Clinton and Sibcy, 2002, pp 17-18)


Four basic attachment styles have been identified through observing the reactions of young children.  Although the child’s style can change due to new experiences and psychological development, they usually provide the general framework for relationships throughout the child’s life. 


            1.  The secure attachment style.  These children view themselves as worthy of love and feel competent to obtain love when they need it.  They view others as reliable, accessible and willing to respond to their needs.  They seek out an attachment figure when they feel insecure and will act in ways that effectively meet their emotional needs. 


            2.  The avoidant attachment style.  These children view themselves as worthy of love and competent to obtain it, but view others as either unwilling, unavailable or untrustworthy of providing for their emotional needs.  They tend to withdraw into themselves, discount their emotions and rely on themselves for nurturing.  Many times, they will value accomplishing things over developing relationships. 


            3.  The ambivalent attachment style.  These children view themselves as unworthy of love or incompetent to get the caregivers attention, but view the attachment figure as capable of comfort and protection.  They tend to throw tantrums or act out in order to receive nurturing but have difficulty receiving it when the caregiver attempts to help them and, sometimes, become angry at the caregiver.  They tend to perform for others in order to please them in the hope that if they do well enough their needs will be met. 


              4.  The disorganized attachment style.  These children view themselves as unworthy of love or incompetent to obtain it; and they view others as unwilling, unavailable or untrustworthy to give it.  Because they exhibit both negative viewpoints and because this style is many times the result of abusive behavior, these children are confused in their attachment attempts.  Sometimes they will even run to a stranger for safety.  This is because, at times, they have experienced the attachment figure meeting their needs; and at other times, they have experienced rejection or abuse from the same attachment figure.  They tend to be overly emotional and cycle between wanting to be close and avoiding closeness.  (Clinton and Sibcy, pp 24-28) 


A person’s overall attachment system operates similar to a thermostat.  If the primary attachment figure becomes unavailable, refuses to meet his needs or is unreliable, he will protest in an effort to correct the perceived problem and to calm the anxiety that he feel.  On the other hand, he may feel smothered by too much intervention or demands for closeness and take action to withdraw and get a little space.  With insecure styles of attachment, an approach-avoidance dance can be initiated which will eventually damage the relationship.  In some cases, when attachment wounds convince a person that the attachment figure is not safe, detachment may occur.  Periods of protest and despair usually precede actual detachment.  One of the most common signs of detachment is when the other person withdraws from non-sexual touch.   


Because everyone emotionally needs someone who is trustworthy, always available and emotionally sensitive, God is the ultimate attachment figure.  This is because God cannot lie, He is always available and, through the things that He suffered here on earth for us, He is very sensitive to our emotions.  Because He does not change, He provides the ultimate safe haven that each and everyone needs and the safe base from which to venture out into the world.  (Clinton and Sibcy, 2002, Hart, 2003)  


The Attachment Model of Jonathan, David, Michael, and Saul (from the book Faith Therapy)

As we have already discussed, one of our deepest needs is to be loved.  Most of our conflicts in our attempts to be loved are problems with attachment, and the answer to our attachment problems is faith.  To understand this from a biblical perspective, let us examine the lives of some of the best-known figures of the Old Testament: Jonathan, David, Saul and Michael.


The Secure Attachment Style

           1.  The first requirement for a secure attachment style is that we view ourselves as worthy of love and capable of obtaining love.  Jonathan, whose name means, “Jehovah has given,” is a biblical example of a secure attacher.  The fact that his father, King Saul, gave him this particular name indicates that his father valued him as a gift from God, especially, since he would be in line to be the next king and carry on Saul’s heritage after he died.  Perhaps, because he was the crown prince, he was highly valued and received exceptional treatment as a child from all around him.  The fact that he was trusted and favored by his father is clear from the fact that he asked Jonathan to lead the remainder of the Israelite army.  Anyone who has met one will agree that secure attachers are definite gift from God. 


1 Sa 13:2  Saul chose him three thousand men of Israel; whereof two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent.  14:49  Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchishua: and the names of his two daughters were these; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal.


           2.  The second requirement of secure attachment is that we view others as trustworthy to provide a safe haven for us.  Although it might be hard for us to believe that anyone, even Saul’s son, could view Saul as reliable, Jonathan did trust his father.  In turn, Jonathan was the closest person to Saul and was so trusted by him that when there were only two swords in all of Israel, Jonathan was given the second one.


1 Sa 13:16  And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people that were present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash.  22  So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found.


            3.  Since no one on earth can ever be totally relied upon in all circumstances, truly secure attachers place their ultimate reliance on God,.  Jonathan trusted God so much that he was willing to go against the entire Philistine army with only his armor bearer at his side.  Johnathan’s armor bearer trusted him so much that he was willing to follow Jonathan wherever he went.  However, Jonathan was not presumptuous.  He first sought a sign from God that what he was about to do was the will of God.  


1 Sa 14:6  And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.  7  And his armourbearer said unto him, Do all that is in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I am with thee according to thy heart.  8  Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto these men, and we will discover ourselves unto them.  9  If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them.  10  But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this shall be a sign unto us. 


          4.  Those with secure attachment styles are able to freely give of themselves without requiring anything in return.  They are able to attach closely with others at the deepest level without fear of losing their own identity.  Love is the emotion that results from attachment. 


1 Sa 18:1  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.


            5.  Commitment, which is a sign of unconditional attachment, may be expressed through the making of a covenant.  Today, the ultimate in attachment is marriage, and it is signified by the covenant of marriage.  True attachment can be so close that the “two become one flesh.”  Although Jonathan and David were just friends, Jonathan loved David “as he loved his own soul.” 


1 Sa 18:3  Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 


            6.  In attachment, we make our heart so vulnerable to the other person that we trust them with our reputation, share our inner-most thoughts and words, sharpen each other’s character, and offer our strength and power to make the other person feel safe.  Hart sums this up in the words trust, availability and sensitivity.  (2003)  A feeling of safety must exist before we will be willing to truly attach to another person.  Insecure people fear and avoid attachment due to the vulnerability that it requires.


1 Sa 18:4  And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe (reputation ) that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments (character), even to his sword (words), and to his bow (strength and power), and to his girdle (heart). 


            7.  We can trust a secure attacher even with our life.  David trusted Jonathan with his life again and again when King Saul sought to kill him.  King Saul trusted Jonathan so much that Jonathan was one of the few people who could change his mind.  Secure attachers make excellent mediators. 


1 Sa 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?  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. 


            8.  Those with secure attachment styles will never leave or abandon us no matter what happens.  Jonathan never abandoned Saul even after Saul accused him of violating an order that he had not even heard, and sentenced him to death.  Saul even threw his javelin at Jonathan because he supported David.  Yet, in the end, Jonathan died in battle at Saul’s side. 


1 Sa 14: 43  Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand, and, lo, I must die.  44  And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan.  45  And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: as the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not.  20:30  Then Saul’s anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother’s nakedness?  32  And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done?  33  And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David.  34  So Jonathan arose from the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him shame. 


            9.  However, because secure attachers are secure, they can be counted on to do what is right in the long term best interests of everyone involved.  Even though King Saul, Jonathan’s father, wanted David killed, Jonathan supported David when he was hiding from Saul.  Attachment, at its very heart, is a covenant of mutual support to do what is right and have the long-term best interest of other people in mind. 


1 Sa 20:42  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.  23:16  And Jonathan Saul’s son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God.


         10.  Secure attachers will even sacrifice their own interests for the sake of another. This is the clearest sign of true love.  Jonathan was willing to give up his rightful claim to be the next king and take a supporting position out of his love for David and what he believed was God’s plan for their lives.


1 Sa 23:17  And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth.  18  And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house. 

The Ambivalent Attachment Style

In this story, David is our example of a person who typifies an ambivalent attachment style.  As our story continues, please note how this style is significantly different from a secure style and how insecurity leads to dysfunction. 


         1.  Those with ambivalent attachment styles do not believe they are worthy of the love and the support of others unless they perform adequately to deserve that love.  David was the youngest in his family and so looked down on that he was given the lowly job of sheep herder (many times a chore given to children or slaves), he was not even invited to the meal when Samuel came to anoint one of the brothers as king, and his older brothers saw him as a prideful upstart when he asked questions concerning the possibility of fighting the giant Goliath.  Even after he killed Goliath, King Saul had to ask who he was, even though he had been playing the harp for him in the palace for a considerable time.  How others view us is generally the basis of how we view ourselves.  When David was asked to be the king’s son-in-law, he saw himself as so unworthy that King Saul gave his older daughter, who was supposed to be David’s wife, to another man. 

1Sa 17:28  And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.  29  And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? 57  And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.  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.

1Sam 18:18  And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?   19  But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.  23  And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed? 


         2.  Ambivalent attachers view others as safe and trustworthy to provide a safe haven for them.  With the treatment David received in his family, it is hard to believe that he had learned to trust others.  However, because David was a man after God’s own heart; he may have trusted God to make up for other people’s failures.  David’s mother and father or other relatives may have provided strong nurturing when he was a child.  The fact that, under these circumstances, he was able to develop such a deep trust in God suggests that this must have been the case.  Jesse means, “Jehovah exists, to possess something, or to be wealthy.”  At the very least, he grew up in a good family.  He demonstrated that he was naively trusting throughout his life by relying on men like Saul, Joab, Ahithophel, Amnon, and Absalom, all of whom eventually betrayed him in some way.


            3.  Those with ambivalent attachment styles try to please others since they believe that this will make them acceptable to be loved by them.  David was never able to please his brothers and it frustrated him.  He was such a great performer for King Saul that all the people loved him.  Saul felt threatened by him when the women sang that David had killed his ten thousands and Saul only his thousands. 


1Sa 18:7  And the women answered one another as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.  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. 


          4.  The ambivalent attacher will continue to pursue unreliable attachment figures even after they prove themselves unsafe hoping to perform well enough to be accepted by them.  Even when King Saul was trying to kill David, David continued to try to be reconciled to Saul through Jonathan.  David even spared King Saul’s life twice trying to prove that he was not Saul’s enemy.  He was still not able to please Saul.  After Saul died, he lamented him on an equal basis with Jonathan. 


1Sa 24:10  Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the LORD had delivered thee to day into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine eye spared thee; and I said, I will not put forth mine hand against my lord; for he is the LORD’S anointed.  11  Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand: for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand, and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take it.  12  The LORD judge between me and thee, and the LORD avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee. 

26:23  The LORD render to every man his righteousness and his faithfulness: for the LORD delivered thee into my hand to day, but I would not stretch forth mine hand against the LORD’S anointed.  24  And, behold, as thy life was much set by this day in mine eyes, so let my life be much set by in the eyes of the LORD, and let him deliver me out of all tribulation.  25  Then Saul said to David, Blessed be thou, my son David: thou shalt both do great things, and also shalt still prevail. So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place. 

2 Sa 1:17  And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: 


The Avoidant Attachment Style


As we continue our story, we are introduced to Michal.  She is a clear example of an avoidant attachment style. 


            1.  Those with avoidant attachment styles believe that they are worthy of love and able to obtain it.  Michal, Saul’s second daughter is an example of this.  Her name means, “who is like God.”  Probably being brought up as a daughter of a king made her feel that she was worthy of love.  However, her name makes it clear that she had a tendency to want to be like God or be her own god, relying only on herself. 


            2.  Avoidant attachers do not view others as safe attachment figures.  Michal was definitely not viewed by King Saul as important, since he offered her to David as a wife in an attempt to have David killed while he was trying to obtain the dowry and “to be a snare for him.”  It appears King Saul was shocked when she fell in love with David, possibly because he was never able to connect with her himself. 


1 Sa 18:20  And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.  21  And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.  28  And Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. 29  And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David’s enemy continually.


            3.  Avoidants trust only themselves, get their needs met though performance, and attach superficially.  They also value performance in others.  Michal fell in love with David, the ultimate performer in Israel.  She even risked her life to help him escape from her father, but afterward  easily changed attachments to her new husband Phalti (my deliverance) the son of Laish (lion), which was of Gallim (springs).  From Phalti’s name and heritage, he also seems to have been quite a performer and deeply in love with Michal.  This is clear from the fact that he followed her crying, when King David had her brought back to him.  He also may have been a secure attacher, like Jonathan.


1 Sa 19:11  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.  12  So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped.  13  And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.  17  And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee? 25:44  But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.  2 Sa 3:14  And David sent messengers to Ishbosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines.  15  And Ishbosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish.  16  And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned. 


           4.  Because those with an avoidant attachment style strongly believe that others are not safe, it is extremely difficult for anyone to convince them otherwise.  David acted insensitively when he required Abner to bring Michal back to him as part of a peace treaty.  He did not even ask Michal if she wanted to come back to him.  As a result, after David danced before the Ark, Michal quickly reached the conclusion that David could not be trusted and was showing off to the other women. 


2 Sa 6:20  Then David returned to bless his household. And Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David, and said, How glorious was the king of Israel to day, who uncovered himself to day in the eyes of the handmaids of his servants, as one of the vain fellows shamelessly uncovereth himself!  21  And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel: therefore will I play before the LORD. 


            5.  When confronted with someone they see as untrustworthy, unavailable, or insensitive, the avoidant easily detaches emotionally, but may remain in the relationship.  David’s reaction to Michael was clearly insensitive and, since he now had a number of other wives, he was not as available as he had been before.  Although it is not clear which one detached, we are told that “Therefore” Michal had no more children, suggesting that as a consequence of this attachment wound, they no longer had sex (or for some other reason she was unable to have children.) 


2 Sa 6:23  Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.  21:8  But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:  9  And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them in the hill before the LORD: and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest. 

The Disorganized Attachment Style

 King Soul is a good example of someone with a disorganized attachment style.

           1.  Those with a disorganized attachment style do not believe that they are worthy of love or capable of obtaining love from others.  King Saul was so insecure that he hid in the baggage when he was to be crowned king.  When David was successful in battle, Saul became jealous of him.  Jealousy is a clear sign of feelings of inferiority.  Twice, when David spared his life, he said to David that David was a better man than he was.


1Sa 10:20  And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken.  21  When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found.  22  Therefore they enquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff.  23  And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward.  24:17  And he (Saul) said to David, Thou art more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.  26:21  Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.


          2.  Disorganized attachers do not believe that they can trust others to be safe as attachment figures.  Saul was suspicious of everyone.  He viewed all that were not with him as enemies.  When tormented, he did not go to his advisers to be comforted, but to David.  But as David played the harp, he threw a javelin at him.  He tried to kill David because he was afraid David would replace him as king.  He killed all of the priests of Nob simply because they helped David, even though they had no idea that King Saul was hunting him. 


1 Sa 22:17  And the king said unto the footmen that stood about him, Turn, and slay the priests of the LORD; because their hand also is with David, and because they knew when he fled, and did not shew it to me. But the servants of the king would not put forth their hand to fall upon the priests of the LORD.  18  And the king said to Doeg, Turn thou, and fall upon the priests. And Doeg the Edomite turned, and he fell upon the priests, and slew on that day fourscore and five persons that did wear a linen ephod.  19    And Nob, the city of the priests, smote he with the edge of the sword, both men And women, children and sucklings, and oxen, and asses, and sheep, with the edge of the sword. 


           3. Many disorganized attachers have histories of being abused, abusing others or failing to meet the expectations of others.  Consequently, they seem to be confused as to what they really want.  A child, who sometimes is comforted and sometimes rejected and treated roughly, will not know whether to seek out or run from their attachment figure when they need comfort.  They may even run to a stranger who they see as a safer risk.  Saul had unsuccessfully tried to find his father’s donkeys.  Donkeys stand for capabilities suggesting that Saul could never be good enough for his father.


1 Sa 9:3  And the asses of Kish Saul‘s father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses.  5  And when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that was with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us.


           4.  The disorganized attachment style exhibits the characteristics of both the ambivalent and the avoidant styles.  This is because they see themselves as unworthy of love and others as unreliable to show them love.  King Saul wavered between trying to please Samuel and God and trying to please the people.  He both admired David and wanted to kill him. 


1 Sa 15:20  And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.  24  And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.  30  Then he said, I have sinned: yet honour me now, I pray thee, before the elders of my people, and before Israel, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD thy God.  31  So Samuel turned again after Saul; and Saul worshipped the LORD. 


           5.  Disorganized attachers many times are emotionally distraught.  Because they see their attachment needs as catastrophic, they overreact to attachment issues in order to force others to attach to them.  Saul expressed his attachment distress by throwing javelins and was tormented emotionally.


1 Sa 18:10  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.

1 Sa 18:11  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.            

          6.  Those with a disorganized attachment style will sometimes become so emotionally distraught that they will threaten to or even commit suicide.  When he was defeated and wounded in battle, Saul chose to kill himself rather than face his failure or try to escape from the enemy forces.


1 Sa 31:3  And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers.  4  Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. 



Changing Attachments

Because attachments styles are developed through our experiences, they can be difficult to change.  However, through developing healthy faith in God and associating with others who do have secure attachment styles, it is possible to turn an insecure style of attachment into a secure one.  Let us examine the steps required to do this. 


1.   We must be saved and believe that God will meet all our needs in order to feel secure and overcome our selfishness.  Do you remember the process of salvation by faith discussed earlier in this book?  Without committing our lives to God and believing that He will meet all of our needs, we will never be secure and will never be able to overcome the selfishness in our lives.  Therefore, salvation by faith is the first essential step to overcoming insecure attachment problems. 

Php 4: 19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.


2.  God is the ultimate attachment figure because He loves us unconditionally, will never abandon us, can never fail us, is always available, and is emotionally sensitive to us.  When He was here on earth, He experienced what we feel.  Consequently, having a deep trusting relationship with God is a key ingredient to rebuilding the trust required to have a secure attachment style. 


Ro 5:8  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Heb 13:5  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

Ro 8:31   What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Heb 4: 14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.   15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 


3.  We need to see ourselves as God sees us—one of His dear children who He loves without any regard to our works or even our failures.  We are loved by God and nothing can separate us from that love.  Even after David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered Uriah, David learned to accept himself as God did and went on with his life trusting in the forgiveness of God.  However, it took David a significant period of time to overcome his insecure attachment style. 


Ro 8:38  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ps 51:1  Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.2  Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.  3  For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 10  Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.  11  Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  12    Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 


4.  We need to see others as God sees them.  They are also His children through faith and He loves them even with all their mistakes and failures.  We should trust others only as far as they are trustworthy and rely primarily on God to make up the difference.  Although Jonathan was not perfect, David was able to trust him as long as he lived.  However, both David and Jonathan primarily put their trust in God. 


Ga 3:26  For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.

Ps 118:8  It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Jo 2:23  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  24  But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,  25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. 

2 Sa 9:7  And David said unto him, Fear not: for I will surely shew thee kindness for Jonathan thy father’s sake, and will restore thee all the land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.  21:7  But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul, because of the LORD’S oath that was between them, between David and Jonathan the son of Saul.

1Chr 22:7  And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God:  8  But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. 


6.  We must start giving unconditional love and securely attach ourselves to others in order to receive unconditional love in return.  According to the paradox of love, we can receive unconditional love only when we sow or give unconditional love to others with no strings attached. 

Ga 6:7  Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 


7.  Without the experience of secure attachments, most people will continue in their insecure attachment styles for the remainder of their lives and lose out on loving and feeling loved.  King Saul went to his death feeling deserted by God and dishonored in battle.  Michal lost out on having a loving relationship with David and even had her five adopted children executed by David.  We can only guess what a bitter existence she lived until her death, especially as she watched while Bathsheba eventually took Michal’s place in David’s heart.


2 Sa 12:24  And David comforted Bathsheba his wife, and went in unto her, and lay with her: and she bare a son, and he called his name Solomon: and the LORD loved him

1 Sa 28:15   And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.  16  Then said Samuel, Wherefore then dost thou ask of me, seeing the LORD is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy? 


8.  We have finally achieved a secure attachment style when we are able to deeply and unconditionally attach and love others.  When Jonathan and Saul were killed, David greatly mourned over them.  Even after Absalom rebelled against him and was killed by Joab, David was so attached that “he wished he could have died instead of him.”  From all this, we see that through the healthy relationships with Jonathan and God, David was finally able to change his insecure ambivalent style into a secure attachment style.


2 Sa 1:23  Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.  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: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

2 Sa 18:33  And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!



Steps for Developing Healthy Attachments

1.  Healthy or secure attachments lead to love, and love is the very essence of God.  We learn to love others by experiencing love.


2.  Those with insecure attachments perceive themselves as undeserving or incapable of obtaining love or view others as unsafe, untrustworthy,      unavailable, or insensitive.  They lead to conflict and almost every type of evil.  Avoidant attachers see themselves as okay and others as unreliable.  Ambivalent attachers question their own worth, but see others as safe.  Those with a disorganized style question their own worth and the reliability of others to meet their emotional needs. 


3.  The first step in overcoming insecure attachment styles is to see ourselves and others as God does—made in His image, very good, but in the process of being delivered from sin.


4.  We must see ourselves as valuable simply because God made us in His image and loves us, and we must trust God to make up for the weaknesses of others.  We must never over-rely on other’s opinions or  let them take the place of God in our lives. 


5.  We must make God our primary attachment figure since He cannot fail, will not leave us, and is sensitive to all our needs because He walked on this earth with us as Jesus.


6.  We should seek out and attach to secure attachment figures, as well as God, in order to experience healthy attachments.


7.   We are to do what is right in all circumstances and love others, having their best interest in mind.  In order to do this, we must experience His unconditional love for us,  appreciate all that He has done for us, and know that He has and will always meet our needs.   



Books on Attachment and Relationships

Watch the Video on Love, Attachment and the Model of Jonathan, David, Michael and Saul Below (From the book and course Faith Therapy)

Learn more about Word of Life Ministries faculty has been overwhelmingly positive.

I heartily recommend these books! Dr. LeAnna Eldridge







click here.