A man who has friends must himself be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Many of the Proverbs and examples in the Bible teach us the importance of friendship and being loyal friends (Proverbs 17:17; 27:10; Ruth 1:16). The Golden Rule also makes the point that “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). These things, and common sense, verify the importance of being friendly if you want to have friends.
However, though the principle is true, the exact translation of the first part of Proverbs 18:24 is disputed.
“This is a difficult verse to translate because of confusion over an ambiguous Hebrew word translated here as be friendly. This translation takes it to mean ‘to make oneself pleasing’ as in 1 Sam. 29:4. To have friends one must be friendly. But the word could also mean ‘to beat each other up’ as in Is. 24:19. Then the verse could be translated, ‘Sometimes even friends destroy each other, but there is a Friend who loves more faithfully than a brother’” (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, note on Proverbs 18:24).
Whatever the meaning of that specific word, the overall message is clear: We should be the kind of friend we want others to be to us. We should be kind and loyal, like Jesus Christ, who calls His disciples friends (John 15:15).
For more about biblical principles for better relationships, see the “Relationships” section of this website.