trusted online casino malaysia
Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

A Highly Prized Friend

Wisdom found in true friendship

Proverbs 18:24

24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 17:17

17 A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.


We are living today in a crisis of friendship.

“Now wait a minute,” you say, “I have lots of friends, and TV and movies seem to be all about friendships and their importance.” This may be so, but think about your friends for a moment. Are they true friends? Or have you become acquainted with other people who share your same interests, but are all individuals at heart? What I mean is, do you have friends that you can really count on in a crisis? 

Look at your social media accounts. You have 986 friends on Facebook. 635 friends on Instagram. 1,100 connections on LinkedIn. 3,000 friends on Twitter. How many of these “friends” would actually come to visit you if you gave a cookout? More telling, how many would come to see you in the hospital if you were in an accident or underwent surgery? How many would pick up your groceries, watch your dog, or be able to share your condition with someone if asked? 

The age of social media has allowed you to have many “friends,” but true friends can still seem to be harder to come by than ever before. People all around you are connected across the world via apps on their phone or message boards online, but are drowning in personal loneliness.  

You may even feel this way too.

A recent study by the AARP has found that one in three adults aged 45 or older reports being chronically lonely. A 2019 article in Harper’s Bazaar reports that adult women are stressed, tired, and lonely. The modern woman works to raise her children (often alone), care for aging parents, and manage her home and career. All of these expectations leave little time for close friendships, and when a friend comes near, it is often to unload an emotional burden.

Where are the men? The Bazaar article blames “toxic masculinity” for womankind’s ills, but perhaps men who have been told for the past fifty thirty years that they are “toxic," oppressors, and the cause of all of the world’s problems, now have found it easier to simply check out. 

Out of responsibilities, out of career ambition, out of pursuing a calling in life, out of relationships–even friendships.

One unconventional way of calculating this comes in another form of journalism: that of movies and film. Recent articles in such scholarly publications as “Screen Rant” note the “10 Best Buddy Comedy Movies,” and catalog them in order of “must see.” Of those frequently cited range from “The Odd Couple” (1968), “Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987), “Dumb and Dumber” (1994) and others, but struggle to find a similar one produced in the past 10 years.  

Friendship, particularly the self-deprecating, long-suffering, with-you-to-the-end kind, is a tough sell to an audience who is seeking self-fulfillment.

Solomon knew the effects of such a crisis that men and women face. Many of the wise sayings in the book of Proverbs address not only the roles of men and women in life, but also the importance of a great connector for each of them: true friendship. In chapter 18, he outlines a great principle:

24 A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.–Proverbs 18:24

One of the first things you may notice about this proverb is that it seems to make no sense. No, do not adjust your television set, this is mainly due to issues of translation. 

The first verset of is better rendered as “A man who has [many] friends may come to ruin.” The word for “friend” רֵ֭עִים (“rê·’îm”) shares a root with the word for ruin, hurt, or evil. It appears that Solomon was making a pun to say that “many friends can still lead to ruin.” (This is not the first time a preacher has told a joke that his congregation simply did not get.)  

This is not so much a warning against having many friends, as being rather prescient thought about those 900 Facebook friends and their actual reliability when you need them.  

So what then is true friendship? What IS Solomon saying, and how is this wisdom? As you have studied Proverbs you know that the choices you make in life can be wise or foolish. “You will not be wise,” Tim Keller writes, “unless you are good at choosing, forging and keeping terrific friendships.”

One reason for the crisis of modern friendship is that modern life is that life is difficult. It has always been this way, but as more men and women pursue their individual desires, the burdens of life become more difficult to carry alone. Sooner or later a crisis occurs–and disaster can quickly follow.

How you choose your friends is therefore important–and being a friend to others is just as critical.  

 The second verset of 24 offers hope: a friend “who sticks closer than a brother.”   Who is this friend? Commentator Bruce Waltke suggests: 

…that the man with run-of-the-mill friends is about to be ruined for want of one true friend; and the man with one true friend is not ruined.–Waltke, “Proverbs” 

In other words, when it comes to friends, it is ok to have many, but it is best to have a few good ones–or even one true friend. 

Friends like that do not come easily–although they can come naturally. Some of the best friends that you have had during your life are those with whom you simply “clicked.” Think on these for a moment. Another student your first grade class. The kid down the street. That roommate in college. A fellow believer in your church. Many of these seemed to come naturally to you because of like personalities, similar interests, or even a funny circumstance. In any case, you felt the blessing of the happiness of providence. 

There are many such cases throughout scripture of friends closer than brothers or sisters. Speaking of which, Ruth and Naomi are a clear example:

16 But Ruth said: 

“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.

The two women formed a bond of companionship that served both to encourage each other, but also provide survival as the two widows, a young woman and her mother-in-law, made their way through the land. Ruth’s insistence on caring for the aging Naomi and not taking “no” for an answer reminds me of some women I know who do the same for their own friends. 

One characteristic of biblical friendship then is constancy. This means that a true friend will be with you through difficult times and good. It means being willing to honestly tell your friend the truth about what you can see about them and in their life–and be willing to hear the truth from them in return.

How often do you shy away from this? You are friends, but you have your boundaries and limits to what you feel you can, or cannot tell them. A friend, a true friend, can bridge such a gap with honesty based on love (Ephesians 4:15).

Inexplicably, this can be most difficult with your church friends. How often do you hesitate to open up to a friend at church because you are worried about your image–or about being gossiped about? Of all friendships, those in the church should be your strongest–and yet so often these are your most superficial. A true Christian friend is one who can hear your confession and still stand by you:

11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,–Hebrews 2:11

You are beginning to see now what Solomon is saying: the significance of friends lies in their quality, not their quantity.

Solomon illustrates this call for quality in Proverbs 17:

17 A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity.–Proverbs 17:17

A true friend recognizes the worth of the other and loves him despite his faults. An example of this is David and Jonathan: 

17 Now Jonathan again caused David to vow, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul.–I Samuel 20:17

David and Jonathan loved each other so much that they fought battles together, and pledged to defend the other to the death–despite the fact that Jonathan’s own father King Saul had pledged to hunt down and execute David!

This then is the other characteristic of Biblical friendship: sacrifice. True friendship hurts, because you suffer alongside those you love. Jesus says as much to His disciples in the upper room in their final hours together:

12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 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.–John 15:12-15

Are you a friend who can love sacrificially? Is your friendship constant? Can you love your friend with Christ’s love? Jesus has loved you, even though you were His enemy (Romans 5:10)! This can mean that you show kindness and patience to your friends who are struggling in life. Call or text them to check to see how their day is going. Ask after their children, husband or wife. Guys, it may mean taking a break from your own hobbies or ball game to check on a buddy, or follow up on a friend at church with an ailing wife. 

Take time for one another. Be sincere in your concerns. Do you have a friend who always seems to listen to your problems? Maybe she cries with you and shares your happy news–do you ever ask about hers? 

St. Augustine wrote that, “In this world two things are essential: life and friendship. Both should be highly prized and we must not undervalue them.” 

Such highly-prized friendship takes time, but Jesus takes time for you. As you deal with the stresses of this life, seek good friends and share Jesus with them. Take your troubles–and theirs–to Him in prayer, for in doing so you are the best friend you could ever be, for you will be a friend who loves with the heart of eternity.

This is the true strength of the Body of Christ, and the fellowship of the church. Likewise, the Fellowship of Ailbe seeks to do this too in a genuine and practical way. Like the old hymn sings, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus:"

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.


The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Subscribe to Ailbe Newsletters

Sign up to receive our email newsletters and read columns about revival, renewal, and awakening built upon prayer, sharing, and mutual edification.