Proverbs 27 may have more wisdom about our friends than any other chapter in this book. But sprinkled throughout the entire book of Proverbs is outstanding wisdom about our closest relationships. Allow me to share just a few observations with you.
In a previous post where I noted the conjunctions “but” and “and,” I see this—The righteous choose their friends carefully, BUT the way of the wicked leads them astray (12:26). Righteous friends keep me on the right path.
Friends love me through my worst moments (17:17) because they have committed to stick closer than a brother to me (18:24).
I must be careful not to make friends with a hot-tempered person (22:24), and to be cautious of people who want to be friends with me only for what I can give them (19:4).
My true friends will wound me in love to help me become the best that God intended me to be (27:5-6, 9, 17), so I must never forsake these friends (27:10).
False friends will gossip to me and about me, but my true friends will guard my secrets and guard my reputation (16:28; 17:9).
In order to have true friends, I first have to be a true friend.
In my book Shepherd Leadership: The Metrics That Really Matter, I noted how true friends will help us go farther and avoid the stumbles that could cut short our leadership influence.
David was the gold standard for every king of Israel who followed him. Numerous times throughout the history of Israel, we will see a note that a certain king either followed God like David, or turned from God unlike David. Yet there exists a wart on David’s portrait: an adulterous affair with the wife of a man in his inner circle, and then subsequent lies and a murder to cover up the affair. “The thing David had done displeased the Lord” (see 2 Samuel 11).
But I’d like to turn your attention to when this affair occurred: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war…David remained in Jerusalem” (2 Samuel 11:1). He was without his usual comrades. The men who knew David best, who could probably sense if something was amiss, weren’t around to warn him. When David tried to find out the identity of the bathing beauty on the roof next door to his palace, an unnamed attendant tried to remind him, “Isn’t that Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah?” but David dismissed him.
Elijah was arguably the most forceful and fearless prophet in Israel’s history. Not only did he stand up to the evil kings of Israel, but he spoke out against the kings of surrounding nations, too. In answer to Elijah’s prayer, God brought a drought on the land, and again in answer to Elijah’s prayer, God sent rain. Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of the god Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherah to a duel to the death, which ended up in a decisive victory for Yahweh. Yet, shortly after this massive victory, Elijah was depressed to the point that he wanted to die.
What led to Elijah’s depression? Something very similar to David’s slide into adultery: He was alone. Elijah ran away from Queen Jezebel’s death threat, left his servant behind, and proceeded all by himself into the desert. It was when he was without a comrade that he prayed to God, “I’ve had enough. Take my life” (see 2 Kings 17–19).
And what about Peter? He boldly claimed his loyalty to Jesus, even to the point of wielding a sword at the guards who came to arrest his Master. But when Peter was alone, after the other disciples fled, he denied three times that he knew Jesus (Matthew 26:33, 51, 69–75).
God designed us to be in relationship with others. His statement to Adam in some of the earliest words of the Bible—“It is not good for you to be alone”—are words for us still today. —from the chapter “Going Farther”
We need true, God-fearing friends close to us. Ask God to bring those friends around you, and ask the Holy Spirit to make you into that kind of friend for those He does bring around you.