Does the Bible have a lot to say about friendship? If so, what can we learn from Scripture about friendship?
Souls Knitted Together
The Bible has a lot to say about friendship. One of my favorite descriptions of friendship is the friendship that was between David and Jonathan where it was written “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1). The Hebrew word used for “knit” is “qashar” and means “to bind together” and “to tie” as you would the threads of clothing so the idea is that David and Jonathan’s souls were so closely knit together as to be bound up with one another and what affected one, affected the other. It would be like if I hurt my left hand, my right hand would feel it. Friends are very often closer to us than our own brothers or sisters (Prov 18:24) and in some cases, closer to them than they are their own parents. The relationship between David and Jonathan was one of selflessness where, in the case of Jonathan, he didn’t care that he was to be next in line to be the king of Israel because his father was King Saul. He cared more for David than his own selfish ambitions. Friendship puts their friend above the interests of their own life.
Friends tell you the Truth
I would rather hear the truth than be flattered by insincere lies because I’d rather be corrected than be incorrect. Friends love you enough to tell you the truth…even when it hurts. Proverbs 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” and I always have a bit of rust on me. Insincere flattery does me no good at all. I can’t learn and grow from a milk-toast friendship. Solomon rightly wrote in Proverbs 27:6 that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” We need friends like that. Whoever flatters you continuously may not really be your friend at all…the true friend will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. The Word of God is like that; it cuts in order to heal and just like pruning a bush might seem painful or damaging to the plant, it brings forth more abundant fruit and I would rather have “open rebuke than hidden love” (Prov 27:5). Truly “Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel” (Prov 27:9). The key word here is “earnest” meaning that his or her counsel is always with the best of intentions and there is no hidden agenda or selfish motivation because we all need “a friend who sticks closer than a brother (or sister)” (Prov 18:24).
Through thick and Thin
Friends hang tough…during the good times but even in difficult times. A true friend doesn’t bail out on you when you are in need. He or she’s that friend who will call you at 3:00 A.M. if their cars broke down but they’d do the same for you. Proverbs 17:17 describes it in this way; “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” and every one of us go through times of adversity. When Solomon wrote “at all times” he meant what he said, a true friend loves you at all times! There are no exceptions. This is why we are admonished to “not forsake your friend and your father’s friend” (Prov 27:10) because “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14). That was part of Job’s torment because his friends had scorned him (Job 16:20) and had forgotten him (Job 19:14) and had all turned against him (Job 19:19) and nothing hurts more than that.
Friends You Don’t Need
If your friend loves to talk about you when you’re not there, except for asking for prayer for you, then you may not have a true friend at all. If we are made a laughingstock before others of what we think are our friends (Job 16:2) then we might want to think of finding another friend and one who won’t slander us behind our back or talk about us when we’re not there. The proverb is true that “a whisperer separates close friends” (Prov 16:28) and whoever “repeats a matter separates close friends” (Prov 17:9b).
One thing is certain, we all need friends, but more importantly, we all need at least that one, close, true friend who we can share our weaknesses with and not have to worry that they’ll gossip to others about it. We all need someone close to us that we can share our burdens and joys with. Thankfully, Jesus is a friend of sinners and for those who believe in Him he says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon