Two books on friendship — who needs ’em? The answer is — I DO! As an introvert, I try to avoid people, large crowds, telemarketers. But God in His humor has me writing two books on . . . friendship! This first book is tentatively entitled With Friends Like These . . . Biblical Friendships from Job to Jesus. We began in our last post thinking about the Old Testament on friendship.
While our study must be cursory, we noticed in the Pentateuch that Adam needed human companionship, that God actually had the Levites kill their friends for idolatry, and that two men specifically (Abraham and Moses) were called “the friend of God.”
In the History Books we mentioned the beautiful friendship between Jonathan and David and how it is perversely viewed as a homosexual relationship by some today, causing many men not to get close to other men out of fear!
Let’s take a brief look at the Poetry Books of the Old Testament this morning. What do we see there? The book of Job lays out for us the truth of being with a friend in pain. It also shows the danger of trying to “help” one’s friend through their pain when the helper’s view of God and reality is flawed. Job’s three friends each lecture him on his sin and his need to repent. And they are wrong in their assessment (see Job 42:7). Theology is important, but can be used as a weapon to further hurt the wounded.
The Psalter has much to say about friendship, especially the pain of friends’ turning away when life becomes hard (see 31:11; 38:11; 41:9; 55:12-14; etc.). David declares he is “a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts” (Ps. 119:63). The book of Proverbs reminds us that the rich have many friends (19:6). The righteous choose their friends carefully (12:26) and we are warned that gossip separates close friends (17:9). One of the most critical points about friendship made in the book of Proverbs is found in 27:6 where we read, ““Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” None of us likes to be wounded, but there are useful wounds from those who love us which are far more valuable than empty expressions of affection. Similarly, Proverbs 27:9 says, “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.” (27:9). Very practically we are told in 22:24 that we should “not make friends with a hot-tempered person; do not associate with one easily angered.”
In our next and last post on the Old Testament’s advice on friendships we will look at the major and minor prophets.