Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) A friend loveth at all times . . .—Rather, The (true) friend loveth at all times, and (as) a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 17:17. A friend loveth at all times — A sincere and hearty friend not only loves in prosperity, but also in adversity, when false friends forsake us; and a brother — Who is so, not only by name and blood, but by brotherly affection; is born for adversity — Was sent into the world for this among other ends, that he might comfort and relieve his brother in his adversity.17:8. Those who set their hearts upon money, will do any thing for it. What influence should the gifts of God have on our hearts! 9. The way to preserve peace is to make the best of every thing; not to notice what has been said or done against ourselves. 10. A gentle reproof will enter, not only into the head, but into the heart of a wise man. 11. Satan, and the messengers of Satan, shall be let loose upon an evil man. 12. Let us watch over our own passions, and avoid the company of furious men. 13. To render evil for good is devilish. He that does so, brings a curse upon his family. 14. What danger there is in the beginning of strife! Resist its earliest display; and leave it off, if it were possible, before you begin. 15. It is an offence to God to acquit the guilty, or to condemn those who are not guilty. 16. Man's neglect of God's favour and his own interest is very absurd. 17. No change of outward circumstances should abate our affection for our friends or relatives. But no friend, except Christ, deserves unlimited confidence. In Him this text did receive, and still receives its most glorious fulfilment. 18. Let not any wrong their families. Yet Christ's becoming Surety for men, was a glorious display of Divine wisdom; for he was able to discharge the bond.Some take the proverb to describe (as in Proverbs 18:24) the "friend that sticketh closer than a brother:" and render: At all times, a friend loveth, but in adversity he is born (i. e., becomes) a brother. 17. To the second of these parallel clauses, there is an accession of meaning, that is, that a brother's love is specially seen in adversity. A friend, a sincere and hearty friend, loveth at all times, not only in prosperity, but also in adversity, when false friends forsake us.

A brother, who is so not only by name and blood, but by brotherly affection,

is born for adversity; was sent into the world for this among other ends, that he might comfort and relieve his brother in his adversity. So this proverb compareth a friend with a brother, and showeth that a friend doth that freely, and by choice, which a brother doth by the force and obligations of nature. But this last clause may be, and is by divers, otherwise rendered, and he (to wit, the friend) is born a brother (or, becomes or is made a brother, i.e. puts on brotherly affection, as if he had received a second birth, and was born his brother; such expressions being not unusual, both in Scripture and in other authors) in or against the time of adversity. So the sense is, He is a friend at all times, but in adversity he is more than all ordinary friend, even a brother. A friend loveth at all times,.... A true, hearty, faithful friend, loves in times of adversity as well as in times of prosperity: there are many that are friends to persons, while they are in affluent circumstances; but when there is a change in their condition, and they are stripped of all riches and substance; than their friends forsake them, and stand at a distance from them; as was the case of Job, Job 19:14; it is a very rare thing to find a friend that is a constant lover, such an one as here described;

and a brother is born for adversity; for a time of adversity, as Jarchi: he is born into the world for this purpose; to sympathize with his brother in distress, to relieve him, comfort and support him; and if he does not do this, when it is in his power to do it, he does not answer the end of his being born into the world. The Jewish writers understand this as showing the difference between a friend and a brother: a cordial friend loves at all times, prosperous and adverse; but a "brother loves when adversity is born" (s), or is, so Aben Ezra; he loves when he is forced to it; when the distress of his brother, who is his flesh and bone, as Gersom observes, obliges him to it: but this may be understood of the same person who is the friend; he is a brother, and acts the part of one in a time of adversity, for which he is born and brought into the world; it being so ordered by divine Providence, that a man should have a friend born against the time he stands in need of him (t). To no one person can all this be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ; he is a "friend", not of angels only, but of men; more especially of his church and people; of sinful men, of publicans and sinners; as appears by his calling them to repentance, by his receiving them, and by his coming into the world to save them: he "loves" them, and loves them constantly; he loved them before time; so early were they on his heart and in his book of life; so early was he the surety of them, and the covenant of grace made with him; and their persons and grace put into his hands, which he took the care of: he loved them in time, and before time began with them; thus they were preserved in him, when they fell in Adam; were redeemed by his precious blood, when as yet they were not in being, at least many of them: he loves them as soon as time begins with them, as soon as born; though impure by their first birth, transgressors from the womb, enemies and enmity itself unto him; he waits to be gracious to them, and sends his Gospel and his Spirit to find them out and call them: and he continues to love them after conversion; in times of backsliding; in times of desertion; in times of temptation, and in times of affliction: he loves them indeed to the end of time, and to all eternity; nor is there a moment of time to be fixed upon, in which he does not love them. And he is a "brother" to his people; through his incarnation, he is a partaker of the same flesh and blood with them; and through their adoption, they having one and the same Father; nor is he ashamed to own the relation; and he has all the freedom, affection, compassion, and condescension, of a brother in him: and now he is a brother "born"; see Isaiah 9:6; born of a woman, a virgin, at Bethlehem, in the fulness of time, for and on the behalf of his people; even "for adversity"; to bear and endure adversity himself, which he did, by coming into a state of meanness and poverty; through the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the ill usage of his own disciples, the desertion of his father, the strokes of justice, and the sufferings of death; also for the adversity of his people, to sympathize with them, bear them up under it, and deliver them out of it. The ancient Jews had a notion that this Scripture has some respect to the Messiah; for, to show that the Messiah, being God, would by his incarnation become a brother to men, they cite this passage of Scripture as a testimony of it (u).

(s) "et fater diligit quando tribulatio nascitur", Munster; so some in Vatablus. (t) "Nihil homini amico est opportuno amicus", Plauti Epidicus, Acts 3. Sc. 3. v. 43. (u) Mechilta spud Galatin. Cathol. Ver. Arcan. l. 3. c. 28.

A friend loveth at all times, and a {h} brother is born for adversity.

(h) So that he is more than a friend, even a brother that helps in time of adversity.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. a brother is born] Or (making a friend the subject clauses) is born as a brother, R.V. marg. A friend love friend’s love always, but with the love of a born brother in adversity. So was it with Jonathan and David (1 Samuel 18-20.); but the proverb admits of the highest application. See Introd. p. 30.Verse 17. - A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Some find a climax in the two clauses, and translate the last as Revised Version margin, "And is born as a brother for adversity," the same person being meant in both members of the sentence. A real friend loves his friend in prosperity and adversity; yea, he is more than a friend in time of need - he is a brother, as affectionate and as trusty as one connected by the closest ties of relationship (comp. Proverbs 18:24). Siracides gives a very cruel version of this proverb, "A friend cannot be known in prosperity; and an enemy cannot be hidden in adversity. In the prosperity of a man enemies will be grieved; but in his adversity even a friend will depart" (Ecclus. 12:8, etc.). Cicero had a truer notion of the stability of friendship when he quoted Ennius's dictum, "Amicus certus in re incerta cernitur" ('De Amicit.,' 17.). Misfortune, says our maxim, is the touchstone of friendship; and one Greek gnome enjoins -

Ἰδίας νόμιζε τῶν φίλων τὰς συμφοράς

"Thy friend's misfortunes deem to be thine own;"

while another runs -

Κρίνει φίλους ὁ καιρὸς ὥς χρυσὸν τὸ πῦρ.

"The crisis tests a friend, as fire the gold." Septuagint, "Have thou a friend forevery crisis, and let brethren be useful in adversities; for for this they are made." Commenting on the expression, "is born," Wordsworth fancifully remarks, "Adversity brings him forth. He comes, as it were, out of the womb of calamity, and seems to be born for it." Five proverbs of dangerous men against whom one has to be on his guard:

11 The rebellious seeketh only after evil,

     And a cruel messenger is sent out against him.

It is a question what is subj. and what obj. in 11a. It lies nearest to look on מרי as subj., and this word (from מרה, stringere, to make oneself exacting against any, to oppose, ἀντιτείνειν) is appropriate thereto; it occurs also at Ezekiel 2:7 as abstr. pro concreto. That it is truly subj. appears from this, that בּקּשׁ רע, to seek after evil (cf. Proverbs 29:10; 1 Kings 20:7, etc.), is a connection of idea much more natural than בּקּשׁ מרי to seek after rebellion. Thus אך will be logically connected with רע, and the reading אך מרי will be preferred to the reading אך־מרי; אך (corresponding to the Arab. âinnama) belongs to those particles which are placed before the clause, without referring to the immediately following part of the sentence, for they are much more regarded as affecting the whole sentence (vid., Proverbs 13:10): the rebellious strives after nothing but only evil. Thus, as neut. obj. רע is rendered by the Syr., Targ., Venet., and Luther; on the contrary, the older Greek translators and Jerome regard רע as the personal subject. If now, in reference to rebellion, the discourse is of a מלאך אכזרי, we are not, with Hitzig, to think of the demon of wild passions unfettered in the person of the rebellious, for that is a style of thought and of expression that is modern, not biblical; but the old unpoetic yet simply true remark remains: Loquendi formula inde petita quod regis aut summi magistratus minister rebelli supplicium nunciat infligitque. מלאך is n. officii, not naturae. Man as a messenger, and the spiritual being as messenger, are both called מלאך. Therefore one may not understand מלאך אכזרי, with the lxx, Jerome, and Luther, directly and exclusively of an angel of punishment. If one thinks of Jahve as the Person against whom the rebellion is made, then the idea of a heavenly messenger lies near, according to Psalm 35:5., Psalm 78:49; but the proverb is so meant, that it is not the less true if an earthly king sends out against a rebellious multitude a messenger with an unlimited commission, or an officer against a single man dangerous to the state, with strict directions to arrest him at all hazards. אכזרי we had already at Proverbs 12:10; the root קש חש means, to be dry, hard, without feeling. The fut. does not denote what may be done (Bertheau, Zckler), which is contrary to the parallelism, the order of the words, and the style of the proverb, but what is done. And the relation of the clause is not, as Ewald interprets it, "scarcely does the sedition seek out evil when an inexorable messenger is sent." Although this explanation is held by Ewald as "unimprovable," yet it is incorrect, because אך in this sense demands, e.g., Genesis 27:3, the perf. (strengthened by the infin. intensivus). The relation of the clause is, also, not such as Bttcher has interpreted it: a wicked man tries only scorn though a stern messenger is sent against him, but not because such a messenger is called אכזרי, against whom this "trying of scorn" helps nothing, so that it is not worth being spoken of; besides, שׁלּח or משׁלּח would have been used if this relation had been intended. We have in 11a and 11b, as also e.g., at Proverbs 26:24; Proverbs 28:1, two clauses standing in internal reciprocal relation, but syntactically simply co-ordinated; the force lies in this, that a messenger who recognises no mitigating circumstances, and offers no pardon, is sent out against such an one.

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