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

What is the real difference between a friend and a brother?  According to Solomon a friend is a spiritual relationship based on a choice whereas a brotherly relationship is a physical relationship based on obligation.  Solomon gives a great definition of a true friend, “one who loves at all times.”  And he also gives a powerful definition for a brother, “one born for adversity.”

Now some teachers in the past have seen the two relationships- friend and brother as antithetical or opposite, however, modern commentators like Allen P. Ross in the “Expositors Bible Commentary,” see them as complimentary.  Meaning, a friend can both love at all times and be there in times of adversity like a brother.  And a brother can not only be there for the tough times but also be a close loving friend.

Therefore, today this proverb gives two great nuggets of wisdom.  First, when choosing your friends do so based on their genuine love for you.  Also, be the kind of friend that loves with sincerity and is not only available in the good times but also in times of adversity.  Second, if you have a brother or sister, be there for them in their biggest battles in life and also choose to be their close friend.  Get to know them for who they really are and love them at all times.

Think of relationships like a book, some friends you will share a page with, others a chapter, and with a very select few you will share the book of life together.  Whether this person is a relative or a friend- I pray you can find someone in life to have this kind of relationship with!


Are you a good friend?


  1. Do you love your friends at all times?
  2. Ask God to make you a great friend and brother/sister to people close to you.
  3. Ask God today to bless your friends and siblings!