Proverbs 18:24

[ 1 minutes to read ]

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

[T]he Hebrew here is difficult and the interpretations vary. The word for friends in the first phrase is a general term than can mean neighbor, companion, or close friend. The word for friend in the second phrase is a stronger term indicating a bond of affection. We also note the first term is plural and the second singular, meaning the proverb moves from many to one. This indicates a contrast in the parallel making the first phrase have a negative gloss and the second a more positive one. The words must show himself friendly translate one Hebrew word, raw-ah’. This word appears 83 times in the Old Testament and is most often translated evil, evildoer, hurt, wickedly, etc. The word has a negative connotation and supports the interpretation of the first phrase negatively. Solomon’s point is that having a true, close friend is better than having many looser friends, or associates (Proverbs 17:17; 27:10).

This understanding agrees with the general tenor of Proverbs concerning many friends. Having multiplied friends increases the likelihood of having fickle friends (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6-7), and the bother of having inconsiderate friends (Proverbs 25:17, 20; 26:18-19; 27:14; 29:5). Having fewer, but truly good friends means we are more likely to have the benefit of loyalty (Proverbs 17:17), loving honesty (Proverbs 27:6), good advice (Proverbs 27:9), and a mutual bettering through differences of personality or understanding (Proverbs 27:17).

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