A FRIEND AND BROTHER – Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times,

And a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17 NKJV

SUPPORTING SCRIPTURE

Ruth 1:16
But Ruth replied: “Do not urge me to leave you or to turn from following you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.

2 Samuel 15:21
But Ittai answered the king, “As surely as the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be!”

Proverbs 18:24
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.

SELECT COMMENTARY

Pulpit Commentary
Verse 17. – A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Some find a climax in the two clauses, and translate the last as Revised Version margin, “And is born as a brother for adversity,” the same person being meant in both members of the sentence. A real friend loves his friend in prosperity and adversity; yea, he is more than a friend in time of need – he is a brother, as affectionate and as trusty as one connected by the closest ties of relationship (comp. Proverbs 18:24). Siracides gives a very cruel version of this proverb, “A friend cannot be known in prosperity; and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity. In the prosperity of a man enemies will be grieved; but in his adversity even a friend will depart” (Ecclus. 12:8, etc.). Cicero had a truer notion of the stability of friendship when he quoted Ennius’s dictum, “Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur” (‘De Amicit.,’ 17.). Misfortune, says our maxim, is the touchstone of friendship; and one Greek gnome enjoins –

Ἰδίας νόμιζε τῶν φίλων τὰς συμφοράς

“Thy friend’s misfortunes deem to be thine own;”

while another runs –

Κρίνει φίλους ὁ καιρὸς ὥς χρυσὸν τὸ πῦρ.

“The crisis tests a friend, as fire the gold.” Septuagint, “Have thou a friend forevery crisis, and let brethren be useful in adversities; for for this they are made.” Commenting on the expression, “is born,” Wordsworth fancifully remarks, “Adversity brings him forth. He comes, as it were, out of the womb of calamity, and seems to be born for it.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
A friend loveth at all times,…. A true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity: there are many that are friends to persons, while they are in affluent circumstances; but when there is a change in their condition, and they are stripped of all riches and substance; than their friends forsake them, and stand at a distance from them; as was the case of Job, Job 19:14; it is a very rare thing to find a friend that is a constant lover, such an one as here described;

and a brother is born for adversity; for a time of adversity, as Jarchi: he is born into the world for this purpose; to sympathize with his brother in distress, to relieve him, comfort and support him; and if he does not do this, when it is in his power to do it, he does not answer the end of his being born into the world. The Jewish writers understand this as showing the difference between a friend and a brother: a cordial friend loves at all times, prosperous and adverse; but a “brother loves when adversity is born” (s), or is, so Aben Ezra; he loves when he is forced to it; when the distress of his brother, who is his flesh and bone, as Gersom observes, obliges him to it: but this may be understood of the same person who is the friend; he is a brother, and acts the part of one in a time of adversity, for which he is born and brought into the world; it being so ordered by divine Providence, that a man should have a friend born against the time he stands in need of him (t). To no one person can all this be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ; he is a “friend”

KIRK’S COMMENTARY

This verse has perplexed me for a long time until reading these commentaries and understanding it in a new light. Why would this dear word ‘brother’ be one of adversity? I was under the impression these were most likely two different individuals but it seems to be describing two levels of a relationship.

Friends can be fickle. They come and they go. Brothers run deep like a ‘band of brothers’. Adversity truly tests and makes this happen. Brothers of the same mother are great and I am thankful to have a good one but this passage here, in my opinion, is truly talking about ‘a brother of another mother’. King David’s mighty men are s great example of brotherhood.

From acquaintance, to companion, to friend and lastly brother is the progression.

Again, it’s adversity that proves character and bonds brothers (and sisters). We often see this happening from war, sports, business, missions, projects, families, etc.

I definitely need to work on developing and being a better friend and best brother.

KIRK’S PRAYER

LORD Jesus, there can be no better brother than You. In my greatest and most desperate hour, You were there. Thanks to our Father, we are blessed beyond measure.

If I miss out in relationships here on this fallen earth, may eternity in paradise be filled with everlasting brothers and sisters living in one accord.

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