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Lesson 5: Friendship *

Introduction: Have you heard the old saying, "A friend in need is a friend indeed?" Lately, I've heard it modified to "A friend in need is a pain in the neck!" Is there common ground between these two statements? Does the truth of the saying depend on whether you are the "needy" friend? What, really, is a friend? How should you select friends? What counsel does the Bible give us on friendships? Let's jump into our study and find out!

  1. Money and Friends

    1. Read Proverbs 18:24. If one friend is good, wouldn't two or more be better?

      1. Or, are friends, like spouses? We learned last week that one man, one woman for life was God's ideal.

      2. Why do you think "many companions" can cause us to come to ruin? (I think this text says that when you have many general acquaintances, none of them are close enough to really want to help you out when you face ruin. You are just, as the modern saying goes, "a pain in the neck" to them. On the other hand, a true friend will help you out when you are facing disaster. That is the "friend indeed.")

    2. Read Proverbs 19:4 and Proverbs 19:6-7. Why does money affect friendship? (People want to be your friend if they think they can benefit from it. That is the point of verse 6.)

      1. Is this a description of the way life is or the way life should be?

      2. If a true friend sticks with you in trouble, why would a poor man's friends and relatives desert him? (Either these are not true friends, or this says something about constantly asking others for help.)

        1. Are relatives more dependable than friends? (Relatives generally do not choose you for a relative. The idea is that they have an obligation because of the family relationship. Verse 7 suggests that this relationship has a practical limit - but a limit that exceeds the limits of your friends.)

        2. Have you met "needy" people? Have you found yourself thinking, "If I hook up with this person they will always be asking me for something. I should avoid them."

      3. Compare Proverbs 17:17 with Proverbs 17:18. How would you draw the line between friendship and lacking judgment? (You should not come to the point where you are a "guarantor" for the bad judgment of needy friends. A true friend knows that you will "be there" in times of adversity, but "being there" might not mean that you will rescue your friend from all financial troubles.)

      4. Read Proverbs 27:10. What does this tell us about friends in need? (There are long-term friends of the family who have a special claim our help. Note that here friends are preferred to distant relatives.)

    3. As you consider these texts that we have read, what advice do you find on friendship? (Don't expect to rely on superficial friends. Avoid being a "needy" friend as much as possible. If you are a true friend, you will help in times of need.)

  2. Advice and Friends

    1. Read Proverbs 22:11. What should you do if you desire to have friends - especially powerful friends?

      1. What is "gracious" speech?

    2. Read Proverbs 27:6. Why would your enemy kiss you? Why would your friend wound you? (Read Proverbs 27:9. The point of these texts is that you should trust your friends to give you "straight" advice. They should not lie to you just to make you feel good. Your friend should tell you what is in your best interest - and you, if you are wise, will not take it as an insult. You should not feel "wounded" by the earnest advice of your friend. At the same time, we learned from Proverbs 22:11 that our "straight" advice as friends should be "gracious.")

  1. Selecting Friends

    1. Read Proverbs 22:24-25 and Proverbs 12:26. Why is making a judgment about potential friends so important? (You are influenced by your friends.)

      1. Think about the friends you have right now, and tell me some phrase, style or mannerism that you have learned from them?

      2. What have they learned from you?

      3. Can you see any positive influence you have had on those around you? How about a negative influence?

    2. Read the first sentence of 2 Corinthians 6:14. What do you think is meant by being "yoked?" Give some examples.

    3. Read the rest of 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. What argument does Paul make about why we should not be "yoked" with unbelievers? (Paul says we have little, if anything, in common with unbelievers.)

      1. Why is that important? (Read 2 Corinthians 6:16-17. It seems Paul is warning us about the influence of others. We are the temple of God, therefore we should not be tainted by the unhealthy influence of those who do not follow God.)

    4. How can we positively influence others if we have to be separate from them? (This series of texts teaches us two things. First, bad influences have more effect on close relationships than good influences. We are not called to be separate from those that do not follow God, we are called to refrain from close relationships with them.)

    5. What about close "non-human" relationships? Are you "yoked" with television? Video games? Movies? Steven King novels? Do these influence your thinking?

      1. Consider that in the group of influences that I just mentioned, the influence is absolutely "one-way." Only you can be influenced. You cannot "influence back."

  2. Friendship Example

    1. Read 1 Samuel 19:11-12. Who are the cast of characters here? (Saul is the King. David is the "King in waiting." Michal is David's wife and Saul's daughter.)

    2. Read 1 Samuel 20:1. Jonathan is King Saul's son - and potentially Jonathan and David are rivals to the throne. What does David want to know from Jonathan? (He is looking for "insider information.")

      1. Other than information, what is David demanding? (Justice. He wants to know what the charges are against him that the King would want to kill him.)

      2. We previously discussed the saying "a friend in need is a pain in the neck." Is David a friend in need?

    3. Read 1 Samuel 20:2. Does Jonathan have any inside information on this subject?

      1. Does Jonathan normally have inside information?

    4. Read 1 Samuel 20:3. Why theory does David suggest as to why Jonathan is wrong about the plans of King Saul?

      1. What level of trust does David have in Jonathan?

      2. If you were Jonathan, what might cross your mind? (That if David were killed, then your path to becoming the king would be clearer.)

        1. On this question of what Jonathan stood to gain by David's death, skip ahead and read 1 Samuel 20:30-31. What did Jonathan stand to gain?

        2. How do you treat your friends when only one of you can have the advantage?

    5. Read Philippians 2:3-4. And 1 Samuel 20:4. Is Jonathan following God's advice about friendship? (Most definitely.)

      1. Notice that Philippians 2:4 tells us it is okay to look to our own interests. Is Jonathan looking to his own interests?

    6. Read 1 Samuel 20:5-11. David proposes a plan to determine whether he is truly in danger or not. How much trust is he placing in Jonathan?

      1. Why does Jonathan ask David to go into the field with him? (Jonathan is concerned about others learning about what David and he are planning. Surely those around Jonathan were loyal to him and they might not be as generous towards David as is Jonathan. They might have the same attitude as King Saul.)

    7. Read 1 Samuel 20:12-16. Recall that I just asked you if Jonathan was looking out for his own interests? Now that you have read more of the story, what is your answer to that question? (Jonathan understood that God was going to make David the King. He knew that would put both himself and his family in danger - because as "rivals" to the throne, David's friends would want to destroy him and his family. He extracted from David a promise of protection. He was looking out for his family.)

    8. Read 1 Samuel 20:17. What made David and Jonathan such perfect friends? (Read Mark 12:29-31. Jonathan and David perfectly fulfilled the command to love each other as they loved themselves. If it were not for Jonathan's understanding of the will of God regarding the kingship of David, we could say that Jonathan loved David more than he loved himself.)

    9. I suggest you read the rest of this story on your own. Jonathan saves David's life. Although Jonathan is ultimately killed in battle with his father, David keeps his word to Jonathan's remaining family.

    10. Friend, how careful are you about the friends you choose? How would you rate yourself as a friend? Do you measure up to the Biblical standards for friendship?

  3. Next week: Religion in the Workplace.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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