There is a lovely passage on friendship in the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. It is attributed to King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, short of the Lord Jesus Himself, the Son of God. It reads;
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.”
(Ecclesiastes 4:7-12 NIV)
Such basic and key thoughts about friendship!
Friends are meant to help one another when we fail, and we all do fail at various times in different ways. So a person without a friend is truly at a huge disadvantage.
The image of being able to lie down and keep each other warm can be seen in more ways than just a marriage bed for a couple. Emotionally and spiritually as well as physically, when friends are mutually bonded in love and respect, they will warm or encourage and strengthen one another. Each is ready to go on because of the support from the other.
Courage is greatly increased too if friends stand together. Opponents cannot so easily defeat a united unit of two as one standing all alone.
These are perhaps the best reasons for forming any friendship bond. We all want someone to help us when in trouble, to warm and encourage us, and stand with us against our enemies.
Just think back to any friendship or even a small alliance you have had since you were a toddler. If you were to analyze them, you would find that you were attracted to and bonded with those who were willing to help you out, or who encouraged and praised you, or who joined sides with you in any conflict with someone else. There were no long ceremonies, you just became friends – whether instantly or gradually doesn't matter.
In your primary years you learned to call these people your friends. Young girls particularly, tend to grade and include or exclude friends all according to their various definitions. The girls are refining their senses and standards regarding relationships. By the time they are in their teens they are often quite intuitive about who makes a good friend and who does not, and once they have latched onto one male friend, they close themselves off to most others.
However, there are always some who don't reach out. Even as adults, some loners never quite get the art of winning and keeping friends. I wonder if that is because they are too self-absorbed?
Notice that Solomon says in this Ecclesiastes passage, that a friend helps a friend up, and they warm one another when lying down together, and they stand together in battle. Obviously then, to have a friend you must do these things for another. You must help someone falling down, be warm and encouraging to someone alone, and join someone in a battle against a common enemy. If you initiate these towards someone else, I think it will be hard for that person not to gratefully claim you as a friend.
On the other hand, if you already have friends who do these things for you, be sure to return the favours and be a friend to them too. Don't just soak up friendship without helping, encouraging and fighting alongside your friends too.
[Note: if you missed any articles in this series of article on Friendships in the Bible, and want to read them, you'll find them all linked from this index which is about Friendship]
My novel, Ruthe's Secret Roses, and this related site have a Friendship theme. By getting to know and follow around the heroine, Ruthe, you can learn a lot about friendships, and that there is one that is the golden key to enriching all your other friendships and making them more satisfying. The site is more like a perfumed poupouri of articles and pages on that theme, and I've started a series on the friendships we observe in the Bible and what practical insights we can gain for our own friendships by thinking about them
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