Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.

6 Many will intreat the favour of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better than secret love.

6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Proverbs 27:10 Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.

MEMORY VERSE: Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. —Psalm 141:5

CENTRAL THOUGHT: A true friend remains faithful at all times, may attach himself more closely and faithfully than family, and does not stop loving, or forsake; though others may flatter or offer deceitful surface affection, kind admonitions and reproof remain as precious gifts a true friendship may offer.


Proverbs 17:17 “A brother is born for adversity”: translated by some as, “At all times, a friend loves, but in adversity he becomes a brother.”

Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends”: the Revised Version, and many other commentators have, “He that maketh many friends doeth it to his own destruction.” Others interpret the clause just as it is, that to have friends, or one who will stick close to you in trouble, you must be a friend to all. “There is a kind of factitious friendship in the world, that, to show one’s self friendly in it, is very expensive, and in every way utterly unprofitable: it is maintained by expensive parties, feasts, etc., where the table groans with dainties, and where the conversation is either jejune and insipid, or calumnious; backbiting, talebearing, and scandal, being the general topics of the different squads in company” (Clarke’s Commentary). The verse was omitted in the Septuagint and Arabic translations. “A friend that sticketh closer”: in Hebrew, a lover. It is a stronger word than that translated ‘friends’ in the first clause of the verse; and is used of Abraham when he is called, ‘the friend of God’” (Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges).

Proverbs 27:5 “Open rebuke” and Psalm 141:5: “Let the righteous smite me”: “Friendly reproofs; which, though they may be severe, at least thought so, and may grieve and wound, and cause pain and uneasiness for the present, yet, proceeding from a spirit of love, faithfulness, and integrity, and designed for the good of the person reproved, ought to be kindly received…but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful; flow from a deceitful heart, and not to be confided in, as the kisses of Joab and Judas” (Gill’s). “Reproof given faithfully and plainly, with openness of heart, and without mincing the matter, and palliating the offence; but speaking out freely, and faithfully laying before a person the evil of his sin, in all the circumstances of it, as the Apostle Paul did to Peter, when he withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed (Galatians 2:11). Now such kind of reproof is better than such love to a person as will not suffer him to tell him of his faults, for fear of grieving him, or losing his friendship; or than such love as does not show itself in deeds, and particularly in faithful reproofs; for so to act is to hate a person, and suffer sin to be upon him
(Leviticus 19:17)” (Gill’s).

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”: or, as the Septuagint, “More to be trusted are the wounds of a friend than the spontaneous kisses of an enemy.”

Proverbs 27:10 “Thine own friend and thy father’s friend…a neighbor who is near”: the kind of friend who is faithful and loves at all times is better to be trusted during a time of trouble than a biological brother or relative who is distant in the relationship. One commentator pointed out that due to polygamy in the Bible times, brotherhood was weakened (as was the marriage relationship, which Christ restored); note the example of David’s sons or David’s brothers. Jonathan provided the close relationship to David that he should have had with his brothers. “Forsake not”: an admonition to be faithful in friendship.


The Proverbs contain many exhortations on the subject of “Friendship.” Today we are looking at the concept of faithfulness in friendship. In these verses we learn that there are surface friends who are only there when times are good and gifts are being distributed. When trouble comes, they vanish. These friends are takers rather than givers, and the whole friendship is one-sided. Having many surface friends can bring destruction and weariness.

In contrast, a true friend loves at all times: in wealth or poverty; in good times or in troubled times. They stick by you even closer than blood relatives. Adversity causes these friends to be “born” into our lives; it reveals the faithfulness or unfaithfulness of an individual.

The scripture passages also bring to light an often overlooked element of faithful friendship: the kindness shown by a friend who faithfully admonishes when it is necessary. The Bible says much about the treachery—the deceitfulness—of flattery, and the stories of David and other kings and prophets provide many examples. A true friend will not flatter, but speak the truth in love. We can see this in the New Testament as well, as Jesus often rebuked his close disciples, and Paul admonished his dearest friends and brothers in the Lord. David speaks of this “kindness” he may have received from his friend, Jonathan; he added that he would pray for his friend who had reproved him in this way. In our friendship with Christ, we cherish His loving rebukes and admonition.

—Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Express the difficulty in Proverbs 18:24; what two ways may the verse be interpreted?
  2. The passage from Proverbs 19 speaks of the surface friendship that exists because of wealth. Could you provide an example from real life?
  3. Share a personal experience where a friend lovingly rebuked you.
  4. Why should an old friend or a family friend not be forsaken?
  5. Explain reasons why a distant biological brother is not as favorable as a close friend in the time of calamity, as presented in Proverbs 27:10.



As we progress further into this study, I am finding myself more and more challenged. The Word pierces deeply into words, actions and motives! The word faithful takes on new meaning, and I have to ask myself some questions:

Have I been faithful in my friend’s times of adversity? Do I visit? Do I willingly take care of needful tasks to relieve her? Am I available to help at a moment’s notice? Or is my friendship one-sided? Am I there only when the favors are being handed out? When my friend is in good financial standing and lives in a beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood? Or do I desert the friend who has suffered loss and no longer has the ability to host or treat her friends to expensive meals or material gifts?

What if my friend is being misunderstood or is on a “side” not well-favored? Do I remain faithful, or do I become silent and cool?

If the Lord lays it on my heart, and if after earnest prayer I am burdened to speak with my friend concerning a fault (Matthew 18:15), am I “able to admonish” (Romans 15:14)?

If my friend comes to me with a burden to reprove me of my fault, do I take David’s attitude and feel that it is a “kindness”? Or do I let the friendship slide into ruin because my pride is hurt and I feel disgraced?

Do I put myself into my friend’s place of suffering, misunderstanding, or grief and intercede faithfully for him? How often do I REALLY pray for my friends?

—Angela Gellenbeck


The quest for a deep and genuine friendship can be a painful one. It requires us to be vulnerable and it exposes our insecurities. Rejections, misunderstandings, and misjudgments are often part of the process, and few of us are willing to take the risk. So, we choose the safer option. We relegate ourselves to more superficial relationships where we can control what is seen and what is said. But a true friend sees us as we are—warts and all. And they choose to love us anyway. They see us at our highest point and at our lowest and they still choose to love us and support us.

When we fall, they are there to pick us up. They are experts at keeping us balanced and humble and are exceptional at administering reality checks. When we hurt, they hurt. When we laugh, they laugh with us but never at us. These are characteristics of a true and faithful friend.

We all desire at least one such friend in our lifetime. But for us to have one, we must be one. A man that has friends must show himself friendly. Genuine friendship, by its very nature, is reciprocal. We have an innate desire to love and to be loved. It is universal. This level of friendship may be somewhat elusive among our peers, but it is ever available in Christ.

Within the body of Christ, we forge bonds that are closer and stronger than family ties. This is the essence of Christian friendship and fellowship. It is based on our love for Christ, the head and our love for his saints, the body. We come to realize that the church body is simply an extension of Christ. So, to love our brother in Christ is to love Christ himself. And to find a friend in our brother is to find a friend in Christ.

—Darrell Johnson