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

      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

  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

      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.