Just a quick thought for now.

Proverbs is an interesting book, to say the least.  It is a book that we can glean many truths from that impact how we carry ourselves day to day.  It touches things like relationships, finances, temptations, logic and reasoning, knowledge, wisdom and literally so much more.  However, what is tricky at times with the book is understanding if a particular truth is being understood in the manner in which was given, meaning, are we as modern readers understanding the full scope of what is being said.  I’m not suggesting that it is a language insufficiency, for in this Proverb, English demonstrates the point, however, the way we normally read this is not the point of it at all.

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

It is often rendered that this verse is speaking of two different ideas.  The first idea is that if someone wants friends, they do so by showing themselves friendly; and the second idea is that there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother and this is usually used to refer to Christ.  This verse is usually taught as two different aspects – how to have friends and how Christ sticks closer than any friend.  However, is this what the writer has in mind?

Many of the Proverbs in chapter 18 deal with the characteristics of foolish thinking/living/behavior.  Let’s make note of a few:

Proverbs 18:1  Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom.

Essentially, someone who isolates themselves may satisfy his own desires but does so at the expense of sound judgment.

Proverbs 18:2  A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. 

A fool has couldn’t care any less about having sound understanding and is content in the perceived comfort of his own opinions.

Proverbs 18:6 A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes. 18:7 A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. 

The lips of a fool walk straight into a fight – we might even say they go looking for a fight, and the sound of a fools lips essentially invites a good punch in the face.  A fool’s mouth is the source of his own destruction, even by trapping his very soul to the tyranny of his own stupidity.

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

This is one of my favorite Proverbs.  It is a foolish approach to begin answering a matter before we hear it.  How often are we dismissive of something before we hear it out?

The chapter finishes with verse 24.

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

The first part of this verse is actually a warning about a lack of discernment when choosing friends and not a recipe for how to find friends.  Essentially, the man who becomes the friend of everyone will come to ruin.  The idea is a foolish man has friends because he has shown himself friendly – he is loose with his friendship.  This is the contrast that is being made in the verse with the second part of the verse.  If we understand this as a recipe for friends, then we lose the contrast that is being made.  The contrast is between the fool, who makes friends with everyone, from the those who have one friend that sticks closer than a brother.  The fool’s friends will use the fool for their own exploits but when things get tough, the fool’s friends are nowhere to be found.  Yet, a true friend, despite the circumstances, sticks close by.

The wisdom principle here is that having one friend that sticks closer than a brother is to be desired over making friends with everyone and in the end, having no one.