When You Need A Friend

Bible Book: Ecclesiastes  4 : 9-12
Subject: Friendship, The Danger of; Friendship, The Value of; Friend, The Best

When you need a friend remember God warns us about being friends with everyone. Some people to have friends because they are so desperate that they violate God’s Word and will about friendship. In Proverbs 22:24-25 we read, “Make no friendship with an angry man, / And with a furious man do not go, / Lest you learn his ways / And set a snare for your soul.” Further we read in Proverbs 29:22, “An angry man stirs up strife, / And a furious man abounds in transgression.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) observed in his “Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music VI:”

“Every one that flatters thee

Is no friend in misery.

Words are easy, like the wind;

Faithful friends are hard to find.”[1]

We read in Proverbs 18:24a, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly. . .” Some translate this portion of the verse as follows: “There are friends who pretend to be friends. . .” According to the Scottish Proverb, “False friends are worse than bitter enemies.”

The Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2009 was “unfriend.”[2] In March 2013 the Oxford English Dictionary added “defriend” to the list of new word entries.[3] Of course these words refer to the social media phenomenon called Facebook. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the term “befriend” means “to become or act as a friend to.”[4]

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) stated, "To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."

For a believer, friendships are to be uplifting. You should be a better person because of your friends and your friends should be better because of you. In Proverbs 27:17 we read, “As iron sharpens iron, / So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”

Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) shares the following on “THE VALUE OF FRIENDSHIP”: “WE CANNOT have many inner friends, but sad is the life that has not its other self. The friendship of David and Jonathan, of Damon and Pythias, has passed into the current talk of the world. [From The Pilgrim’s Progress] It is especially good for the Christian disciple to travel to heaven with a comrade, Hopeful with Christian, and Mercy with Christiana. . . .

Without companionship material things cannot satisfy. The ties of nature, friendship, and religious communion give a zest to a poor man’s life, which the miser with all his wealth forfeits. It is all-important, not only in ordinary life, but pre-eminently in the pilgrimage of the spirit, to have fellowship with some kindred soul.”[5]

We read in our text, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, / Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, / For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

Allow me to share three times when you need a friend.

I. When you fall down a friend will help you get up.

From Ecclesiastes 4:10 we read, “For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls, / For he has no one to help him up.”
A cable television provider commercial features two men, Paul and Randy, jogging. Paul is watching a major sports channel on his smart phone while running. They exchange greetings followed by a brief conversation. Paul asks Randy, “Why aren’t you watching it?” Randy replies, “I wouldn’t be able to see the hole.” Paul asks, “What hole?” After Paul falls into the hole, Randy replied, “That hole.” Paul said, “Okay Randy, good talking to you buddy.” As someone lamented, “With friends like that who needs enemies!” A true friend warns you about the hazards ahead. We read in Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, / But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Dr. F. B. Meyer states, “A friend is invaluable if we stumble or fall on the path of life. ‘ Woe to him that is alone when he falleth.’

‘Brethren,’ says the Apostle, ‘if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted.’ Let us watch for each other's souls; if any is falling away from the truth, or into some insidious trap, let us lift him up. Let us exercise the brotherly solicitude that Barnabas did for Paul.”[6]

II. When you feel cold a friend will help you warm up.

In Ecclesiastes 4:11 we read, “Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; / But how can one be warm alone?” Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) comments, “The Targum interprets it of a man and his wife; it is true of others; see (1 Kings 1:1, 2); but how can one be warm [alone]? not soon, nor easily, in time of cold weather. This is true in a spiritual sense of persons in a Christian communion and religious society; when they are grown cold in their love, lukewarm in their affections, and backward and indifferent to spiritual exercises, yet by Christian conversation may be stirred up to love and good works: so two cold flints struck against each other, fire comes out of them; and even two cold Christians, when they come to talk with each other about spiritual things, and feel one another's spirits, they presently glow in their affections to each other, and to divine things; and especially if Christ joins them with his presence, as he did the two disciples going to Emmaus, then their hearts burn within them.”[7]

Dr. E. H. (Edward Hayes) Plumptre (1821-1891), former professor of pastoral theology at King’s College in London, comments, “Here again the experience of travel comes before us. Sleeping on a cold and stormy night, under the same coverlet, or in Eastern houses, with their unglazed windows and many draughts, two friends kept each other warm, while one resting by himself would have shivered in discomfort. Commonly as in Exod. xxii. 6, the mantle of the day served also as the blanket of the night. So, of course, it would be with those travelled according to the rule of Matt. x. 10."[8]

Maybe you have heard the saying, “He would give you the shirt off of his back.” We read in Exodus 22:25-27, “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest. If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious.” Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments, “The people of God should ever be ready to show mildness and mercy, according to the spirit of these laws. We must answer to God, not only for what we do maliciously, but for what we do heedlessly. Therefore, when we have done harm to our neighbour, we should make restitution, though not compelled by law. Let these scriptures lead our souls to remember, that if the grace of God has indeed appeared to us, then it has taught us, and enabled us so to conduct ourselves by its holy power, that denying ungodliness and wordly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, Titus 2:12. And the grace of God teaches us, that as the Lord is our portion, there is enough in him to satisfy all the desires of our souls.”[9]

Personal interest and personal involvement are major factors in friendship. Dr. F. B. Meyer explains, “Friendship ought to make our spirits glow. ‘How can one be warm alone?’ Of course, in a spiritual sense there are divine sources of caloric. The love of Christ kindleth to vehement heat. But it is certainly easier to keep up the temperature when we have a kindred heart beside us. Perhaps this was one reason why our Lord sent forth His disciples by two and two (Mk 6:7).”[10]

III. When you find opposition a friend will help you stand up.

We read in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

George Whitefield (1714-1770) reportedly stated, “If you are going to walk with Jesus Christ, you are going to be opposed ... In our days, to be a true Christian is really to become a scandal.”[11]

Sometimes we encounter verbal opposition and maybe even physical opposition. From Proverbs 17:17 we read, “A friend loves at all times, / And a brother is born for adversity.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:10 Paul writes, “Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

From Job 4:4 we read, “Your words have stood men on their feet.” Eliphaz spoke these encouraging words to Job who suddenly suffered under a satanic attack. While these words were true, Eliphaz continued to explain the reason Job suffered losses as did Bildad and Zophar. Eliphaz gives an example of encouragement gone awry. If Eliphaz left well enough alone, his encouraging statement would have been a good thing. No wonder Job referred to these “friends” as “miserable comforters” (Job 16:1, 2).

Paul the apostle writes in Ephesians 6:13b-14a “. . . and having done all, to stand, Stand therefore. . .” True friends will encourage you to stand for truth and righteousness in the evil day!

Dr. F. B. Meyer explains, “In temptation a true friend makes us more able to withstand the devil. It is a real help in the hour of trial to have a friend who will appropriate the words of our Lord, saying: ‘I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.’ There is no fellowship like that of Jesus, our Faithful Friend, who lifts us when we fall, chafes us when chilled with cold, and succours us against the Tempter. Does He not make the third in the threefold cord—‘Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Mat 18:20).” Dr. Meyer shares the following: “PRAYER

We pray for our companions in life’s pilgrimage. Help us to hearten them with our courage, cheer them with our love, and bear their burdens so far as we may. For ourselves may we find in Jesus the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. AMEN.”[12]


Someone wisely states, “The time to make friends is before you need them.”

In the words of William D. Longstaff (1822-1894), “Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord; / Abide in Him always, and feed on His Word. Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak, / Forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.”[13]

Solomon underscores the value of friendship in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. He also writes in Proverbs 18:24b, “There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Are you a friend of Jesus? He further says, in John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” He is the only One who can give you the forgiveness of sin and eternal life. If you reject His friendship you will regret it for all eternity in hell. Some foolishly attempt to be friends with Jesus on their own terms. If He is to be our friend it must be on His terms. What a friend we have in Jesus! As a believer we can sing with Larnelle Harris, “I’ve got friends in high places.” In fact, He is the Most High! Rev. Robert L. Wheeler, D.D. reportedly said, “If I had the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, the meekness of Moses, the strength of Samson, the obedience of Abraham, the compassion of Joseph, the tears of Jeremiah, the poetic skill of David, the prophetic voice of Elijah, the courage of Daniel, the greatness of John the Baptist, the endurance and love of Paul, I would still need redemption through Christ's blood, the forgiveness of sin.”[14]

Dr. Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910) said, "The primitive church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death or about heaven. The early Christians were looking not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory. They were watching not for the undertaker but for the uppertaker."[15]

There are times when you need a friend.

[1]The Oxford Shakespeare: the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, ed. W. J. Craig, (London: Oxford University Press, 1916), “Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, VI,” “As it fell upon a day,” Lines 31-34

[2]Douglas Stanglin, “‘Unfriend’ is New Oxford dictionary’s Word of the Year,” November 17, 2009, USA TODAY a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Accessed: 12/30/13, http://content.usatoday.com/communities/ondeadline/post/2009/11/unfriend-is-new-oxford-dictionarys-word-of-the-year-/1#.UsGAT_fnapo

[3]Oxford English Dictionary, "New word list March 2013: List of new word entries," Accessed: 12/30/13, http://public.oed.com/the-oed-today/recent-updates-to-the-oed/march-2013-update/new-words-list-march-2013/

[4]Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Accessed: 12/30/13, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/befriend

[5]F. B. Meyer, Our Daily Walk Daily Meditations and a Prayer for Each Day, vol. 3, “The Value of Friendship,” August 19, 51; Accessed May 8, 2013, http://www.lifebpc.com/devotions/Meyr0307.pdf.


[7]John Gill, The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible, Ecclesiastes 4:11, Accessed: 05/08/13, http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=ec&chapter=004&verse=011.

[8]E. H. Plumptre, Ecclesiastes; or, The Preacher With Notes and Introduction, (Cambridge: at the University Press, 1888), 141

[9]Short Comments on Every Chapter of the Holy Bible, (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1838), 89

[10]Meyer, Meditations

[11]George Whitefield, The Works of the Reverend George Whitefield, M. A.: Containing All His Sermons and Tracts Which Have Been Already Published: With a Select Collection, vol. 4, Letter 23, (London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1771), 32


[13]William D. Longstaff, “Take Time To Be Holy,” (1882)

[14]Edythe Draper, Draper’s Book of Quotations for the Christian World, (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992), Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.

[15]Accessed: 01/04/14, http://preceptaustin.org/second_coming_of_christ.htm .

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com

http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Biblical-Preaching-Giving-Bible/dp/1594577684 / http://www.wordsearchbible.com/products/Sound_Biblical_Preaching_1476.html /

http://www.webspawner.com/users/franklinlkirksey / fkirksey@bellsouth.net /

(251) 626-6210 © January 5, 2014 All Rights Reserved