Proverbs 17:17
A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
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(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.

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." Proverbs 17:1717 At all times the right friend shows himself loving;

     And as a brother is he born for adversity.

Brother is more than friend, he stands to one nearer than a friend does, Psalm 35:14; but the relation of a friend may deepen itself into a spiritual, moral brotherhood, Psalm 18:24, and there is no name of friend that sounds dearer than אחי, 2 Samuel 1:26. 17a and 17b are, according to this, related to each other climactically. The friend meant in 17a is a true friend. Of no other is it said that he loves בּכל־עת, i.e., makes his love manifest; and also the article in הרע not only here gives to the word more body, but stamps it as an ideal-word: the friend who corresponds to the idea of such an one.

(Note: The Arab. grammarians say that the article in this case stands, l'astfrâgh khsânas âljnas, as an exhaustive expression of all essential properties of the genus, i.e., to express the full ideal realization of the idea in that which is named.)

The inf. of the Hiph., in the sense "to associate" (Ewald), cannot therefore be הרע, because רע is not derived from רעע, but from רעה. Thus there exists no contrast between 17a and 17b, so that the love of a friend is thought of, in contradistinction to that of a brother, as without permanency (Fl.); but 17b means that the true friend shows himself in the time of need, and that thus the friendship becomes closer, like that between brothers. The statements do not refer to two kinds of friends; this is seen from the circumstance that אח has not the article, as הרע has. It is not the subj. but pred., as אדם, Job 11:12 : sooner is a wild ass born or born again as a man. The meaning of הוּלד there, as at Psalm 87:5., borders on the notion of regenerari; here the idea is not essentially much less, for by the saying that the friend is born in the time of need, as a brother, is meant that he then for the first time shows himself as a friend, he receives the right status or baptism of such an one, and is, as it were, born into personal brotherly relationship to the sorely-tried friend. The translation comprobatur (Jerome) and erfunden [is found out] (Luther) obliterates the peculiar and thus intentional expression, for נולד is not at all a metaphor used for passing into the light - the two passages in Proverbs and in Job have not their parallel. לצרה is not equivalent to בּצרה (cf. Psalm 9:10; Psalm 10:1), for the interchange of the prep. in 17a and 17b would then be without any apparent reason. But Hitzig's translation also: as a brother he is born of adversity, is impossible, for ל after נודל and ילּד always designates that for which the birth is an advantage, not that from which it proceeds. Thus ל will be that of the purpose: for the purpose of the need, - not indeed to suffer (Job 5:7) on account of it, but to bear it in sympathy, and to help to bear it. Rightly Fleischer: frater autem ad aerumnam (sc. levandam et removendam) nascitur. The lxx gives this sense to the ל: ἀδελφοὶ δὲ ἐν ἀνάγκαις χρήσιμοι ἔστωσαν, τοῦτο γὰρ χάριν γεννῶνται.

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