The Incredible Meaning Of Proverbs 17:17 (A friend loves at all times)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17

After romance, stories of friendship are one of the most common tales told by our culture. The Avenger’s is not really a movie about saving the Earth; it is a story about overcoming differences to protect humanity. Frozen is not about Elsa’s powers but about the love she and Anna share.

These stories and millions of others reflect a value we find in the meaning of Proverbs 17:17. Let’s explore this passage today to glean wisdom from it.

The Context of Proverbs 17:17

A proverb, according to Oxford Languages, is“a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice.” 

While portions of the book of Proverbs create a lengthier, cohesive narrative, Proverbs 17’s verses are stand-alone proverbs, creating twenty-eight, unique narratives. Each exists to capture a vignette common to the human experience with the intent of breathing insight into it. The wisdom it contains is as vast as that of the human experience.

The truths offered in Proverbs may appear random, yet, themes emerge with careful reading. Virtues such as honor and hard work are praised, while vices such as gluttony and greed are condemned. God’s wisdom is a recurring theme, as is his justice. Justice, generally speaking, crops up time and again. Simply put, the fool will suffer for his folly, and the wise will benefit from his wisdom. This is Proverbs in a nutshell.

Now let’s look at the Proverbs 17:17 meaning.

The Meaning of Proverbs 17:17

Proverbs 17:17 expresses two ideals. Let us take them in turn.

The first reads, “A friend loves at all times…” The word friend in Hebrew is an all-purpose word and does not carry the specificity of its English counterpart. It has been interpreted as everything from “another” to “lover.” 

Before we move on to the second half, let’s pause to appreciate the hope and the beauty of this statement. A true friend does love at all times. We know this. We want this. Yet, all too often, we have experienced the opposite. In the midst of a crisis, especially of the long-term variety, friendships suffer. As I read this, I wonder if it is meant as less of a statement of fact on the writer’s part and more of an encouraging nudge. Is Solomon, to whom Proverbs points as the author of this book, urging the reader to be a faithful friend? I think so.

The second half of this verse continues, “and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” When adults retell the stories of their childhoods, they rarely tell tales of how they and their siblings celebrated together. Instead, stories of mischief and suffering often are told and retold to their children and grandchildren. While humans may want to share their joys, they instinctually need to share their suffering. We are wired to experience life together, and this truth is most apparent in seasons of adversity.

How Proverbs 17:17 Applies to Your Life

Both halves of this proverb serve as a poignant reminder that life is not to be lived in solitude. When we suffer or when we celebrate, we crave the comradery of others. Public speaking terrifies us not because we fear the speech itself, but because we fear the rejection and judgment it invites. People need love. We need companionship. For this reason, Proverbs 17:17 has become one of the most well-known proverbs.

Let it be a reminder to you to love at all times and to be present in adversity. Be present at the wedding reception and in the hospital room. Make space in your life to help a friend move, to mow a neighbor’s lawn, or to sit and weep with a window. Be the friend or sibling you wish to have. In this, we can fulfill the second greatest commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves—a true reflection of Christlikeness.

Now check out: The Powerful Meaning Of Proverbs 4:23 (Guard Your Heart)

Jeffery Curtis Poor
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