Brother and Friend

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time.

One without sense enters an agreement and puts up security for his friend.

One with many friends may be harmed, but there is a friend who stays closer than a brother.

-Proverbs 17:17, 17:18, and 18:24

Notes from Derek Kidner (IVP, 1964):
  • In trouble you see what family ties are for, and you also see who are your friends.
  • But a friend may be unfairly imposed upon.
  • The second saying does not contradict the first, but deprecates, not help for a friend in need, but a blind guarantee which may lead the recipient to rashness, and both to ruin.  
  • (18:24) The RV gives the most probable sense of the Hebrew text: "He that maketh many friends (doeth it) to his own destruction."  But the Heb. is very cryptic (and it could be read as:) 'There are friends to (one's) undoing.'  King Zedekiah was warned of this (Jer. 38:22), but in vain.

More notes:
  • Sometimes adversity is the only thing that brings brothers together (WG Plaut).
  • Brothers show loyalty during times of calamity and a true friend is the same as a brotherly relation—in times of greatest need the loyal love is displayed (NET notes).
  • It is better to have one or two good friends than many false friends. Some friends can be more faithful than our closest blood relatives. Such a friend is a true treasure (Constable's notes).
  • The significance of friends is found in their quality, not quantity (Waltke).