- This is a
problematic passage in the translation.
- It is
problematic not because of a textual issue, but rather the problem
revolves around the meaning of the Hebrew word.
- How to
translate the phrase “must shew himself friendly” is the problem.
A man that hath friends must shew himself
to be bad, be evil, displeasing; break; broken; broken in pieces;
- Dict. of
Bib. Lang: evil-doer, i.e., one who acts morally
A verb meaning to be bad, to do wrong. The root of the word indicates
- Used in
Prov.4:16 = mischief
- TWOT –
bad, evil, distress, misery
of the wide variation in translation:
- Darby: A man of many friends
will come to ruin
Christian Standard: A man with many friends may be harmed
- Youngs: A
man with friends is to show himself friendly
- You can
see why it is problematic to discern WHY it is translated
“shew himself friendly” in the KJV.
- It may
well be that there is an ancient play on words that the
KJV translators understood.
is full of this sort of thing. Solomon often uses this technique… it is
the nature of a proverb to have a play on words.
problem is, that when the play on words is several thousand years old –
the we may not grasp what was meant.
- I do not
know HOW to harmonize these two translations.
one will lead a person astray. Both are true.
- But I
need a little more light on this expression.
terms for FRIEND
- FIRST: ray·ah- friend, companion, fellow,
citizen, another person, neighbor,
i.e., one who lives in close geographical proximity, associate, the
second party in a personal interaction without indicating any particular
i. This term is even used of an
adversary in court – an opponent at law (in the sense of another person)
ii. While it is perfectly legitimate to
use this term of a friend… it does not necessarily connote a very close
- SECOND: ˒āhaḇ: -
to love; human
love for another, includes family; lovers; God’s love for people or
people’s love for God; lovely; lovable; have an affection based on a
close relationship, sometimes in comparison to other persons with a
i. Used in Gen. 22:2 – of Abraham’s son
whom he “loved”
ii. Used in Gen.27:4 – of the savor meat
that Isaac “loved”
these two terms speak of different levels of friendship.
i. Friends come in all kinds of
ii. There are some friends we have had
for many decades and that friendship has built up and strengthened over the
iii. There is a friendship that we have
that may be described as a casual but cordial acquaintance…
iv. And there is are many shades in
v. Obviously we are not going to have
the exact same relationship with every person.
vi. We don’t have the same depth of
relationship to everyone we know.
vii. That is not practical or possible.
viii. There clearly are different LEVELS
ix. And perhaps the MAIN point of this
proverb is to highlight that fact.
When a saved
person begins to attend SBC, we should ALL be friendly to that person and
warmly welcome him into the fellowship.
They should be
embraced and invited to become an integral part of the fellowship and ministry
relationship – though friendly – cannot compare to the friendship that that
person might have if he had been attending another church for 20 years.
His ties will be
stronger with the friends he has had for 20 years than his ties here for one
It takes TIME and
effort to develop friendships…
translators highlighted an important truth: to make friends, it is necessary to
And the rest of
the proverb implies that we are to CONTINUE to be friendly… and develop and
nurture friendships… over time.
And there is a friend that sticketh closer than a
- There are
some friends whose bond is stronger and thicker than blood…
stronger and more faithful than family ties!
- In the
first part of the proverb Solomon spoke of a “man of friends.”
- This man
evidently had many friends. (some even translated it that way…)
his friends were ray·ah – companions; cordial
- It is
possible to have hundreds of social contacts… cordial acquaintances. Many
- If you
are a friendly person, you will have LOTS of cordial acquaintances.
enjoys being around a friendly person.
- We all
have LOTS of social contacts… people at work you see on occasion… the
mail man… the soccer coach… the guy at home depot… they guy at the paint
store… the janitor at work… the lady at the dry cleaners…
we are friendly towards them all.
- However, there
is a danger in having lots of casual, cordial acquaintances.
danger is that those relationships are not very deep.
know you… they know your name… they smile and say hi… and they would only
have good things to say about you.
in difficult days, casual acquaintances aren’t going to go to great
lengths to help you.
- They may
hear of your calamity and say, “That’s too bad. Isn’t that awful. Poor
Joe! I feel really sorry for him.”
- That is
the nature of a casual acquaintance.
- Even if
you have hundreds or thousands of them… none of them are very deep.
doesn’t matter all that much whether you have just one casual
acquaintance or 5000… that kind of a relationship is not going to come to
your rescue in times of trouble.
count on them for help. You’ll be sadly disappointed.
- BUT – in contrast to the MANY
casual acquaintances, there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
This is the term for friend that is much DEEPER than ray·ah which often speaks of casual
- Sticketh - clinging, adhering to;
holding fast, i.e., pertaining to being faithful, steadfast;
i. Used of cleaving to the Lord. (Deut.
ii. This friendship has some DEPTH to
iii. This is the kind of friendship that
has been built up over time… and through many experiences together.
iv. This relationship has STUCK
together… it holds fast…
v. It has weathered many storms
vi. This friend is reliable…
the kind of a friend you KNOW you can always count on…
vii. It has expressed itself in hundreds
of ways over time
viii. It has been PROVEN… tested… tried
ix. It has been proven to be faithful…
loyal… through thick and thin…
x. That doesn’t happen over night. It
takes time… perhaps decades…
xi. It doesn’t take much to separate
xii. It takes a LOT to separate loyal
xiii. Casual acquaintances split and
that’s the end of the relationship. Loyal friends also have rifts here and
there… but always make amends… and restore the relationship.
xiv. They stick closer than a brother.
xv. Prov. 17:17 - A friend loveth at all
a reliable friend…
doesn’t end over every little bump in the road…
A friend that is
friendly only when his own interests are served and the relationship brings him
pleasure… is quite selfish… and not the best kind of friend. (superficial)
there are some things we don’t know about this proverb, we DO know
at least this much. Solomon highlights the difference between social
contacts and deep, abiding friendship.
- You may
have 5000 acquaintances, but it is far better to have one REAL
close friend who will stick with you through thick or thin!
come in all different depths… from superficial to super!
- For most
of us, this would be our spouse.
- If you
have a friend like this in addition to your spouse, then you are VERY,
everybody has a friend like this.
- And there
is great application here to the Lord Jesus Christ.
- He is a
friend like no other.
- His love
and concern for us is infinitely higher and deeper and more unshakable
than any earthly relationship.
- And if
anyone wants an example of what a true friend ought to BE… read about the
i. He continually manifested love and
kindness and grace… even in a hostile world where He was hated.
ii. He was FULL of grace and truth.
iii. He didn’t feel slighted… hold
grudges… refuse to forgive and forget…
13:1 – Christ
is our example of a Friend who loves at all times – even to the end.
(Note the presence of Judas!)
can separate us from the love of Christ. (Rom. 8)
i. There is a DEPTH to that love…
ii. And like all friendships – they grow
through time and experience… through walking together… talking together…
iii. There ought to be a continual
INCREASE to the DEPTH of our relationship to Christ over time…
iv. “That I may KNOW Him… in a deeper
and more experiential way” should be the goal of every one of us.
v. That is a relationship that we can’t
afford to neglect… it must not be superficial and casual… but deep, abiding,