“A friend who sticks closer than a brother” Prov 18:24

by Steven Chan

In Prov 17:17, the Bible observes that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Brothers in the flesh are usually expected to help each other when one is in adversity or faces hard times. But a friend, who does not have a family relationship with us, “loves at all times” and not only during times of adversity. The Bible teaches the value of friendship. It also teaches that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov 18:24b).

King David had a tremendous friend in Jonathan, the son of King Saul (I Sam 18:1-5) who was truly a “friend who sticks closer than a brother” because Jonathan helped him to escape from the wrath of his own father, King Saul, who had sought to kill him because Saul saw David as threat to his throne. Unfortunately, not all friends stick closer than a brother. David had also experienced disappointments with a friend. He described his pain of disappointment in Psa 55:4-6:

“4 My heart is severely pained within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. 5 Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me. 6 So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”

He explained why he felt so badly in Psa 55:12-14:

“12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. 13 But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. 14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”

Psa 41:9: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

David felt so pained because it was not his enemy who had reproached or made allegations against him but one who was his “companion and acquaintance” with whom he had spent much time in conversations and with whom he had also worshipped in the house of God. This friend had now gone against him. What a betrayal of trust! Some of us may have experienced similar let downs by so-called friends. We must have the wisdom in choosing our friends as the Bible warns us in 1 Cor 15:33: “Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” Prov 12:26: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” There are numerous accounts of how “evil company” had caused many to fall into bad habits and even into prisons.

But there is no doubt that it is good to have friends because they can help us in our common journey in life. Good friends can help sharpen us through their good insights and godly advice:

“17 As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” (Prov 27:17)

Prov 27:9-10: “9 Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. 10 Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.”

As mentioned earlier, good friends will love us at all times. They will give us good and honest advice, even if it hurts us:

“5 Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful”(Prov 27:5-6)

In speaking the truth to friends, there is always the possibility of our effort being misconstrued and friendship jeopardized, as was expressed by the apostle Paul in Gal 4:16: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” But a true friend will speak the truth for the best interest and well-being of his friend even at the risk of wounding him.”

Jesus Christ taught in John 15:13-15 about the ultimate demonstration of love and friendship between friends:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Jesus is our friend and He gave up the glory of heaven to come down to earth and suffered on our behalf so that we can be enriched and gain entrance into heaven:

2 Cor 8:9: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Phil 2:5-8: “Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

You can be His friend today if you will do what He has commanded because He is “the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.”(John 14:6) Jesus is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” and He will not forsake us:

“For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we may boldly say: “The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Heb 13:5-6)