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 sibling? According to Solomon a friend is a spiritual relationship based on mutual choice, whereas a brotherly relationship (or sibling) is a physical relationship based on family obligation. In today’s proverb King Solomon gives us a great definition of a good friend. A friend is, “someone who loves at all times.” He also gives us a powerful definition for a good sibling; a sibling is, “someone born for adversity.”

Some Bible teachers have wrongly seen the two relationships of friend and sibling as antithetical or opposite. However, modern commentators like Allen P. Ross in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, see them rightly as being complimentary. He wrote, “The true friend is the same as a brotherly relation… [in that both can have] faithful love present at all times… [and be there] in times of adversity.” In other words, a friend can both love at all times and be there in times of adversity like a brother. Likewise, a good brother or sibling won’t only be there for the tough times but also can be a loving friend.

Now let’s look at the proverb again but this time in a more modern translation that takes into account the positives of both relationships, Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble” (The Message). Therefore, today God is giving us two great nuggets of wisdom concerning our friendships and siblings. First, when choosing our friends we should do so based on love that is mutually shared and stick with them through the good and bad times. No one likes a “fair weather friend.”

Second, if you have one or more siblings, fight along side of them in their battles and choose to be their close friend. Get to know them for who they really are and love them at all times. Don’t let others take advantage of them or lead them astray.

Friends can love like siblings and siblings can be close like friends; but in both kinds of relationships; let God’s love and faithfulness be the glue that keeps them together.

Lastly, think of all your relationships like a book; some people you will share a page with, others a chapter and with a very select few you will share the book of your life. Allow people (even siblings) the space to move in and out of your life as the Lord leads. There was a time when Jesus had to remove Himself from His brothers because they mocked His calling (John 7:5). Jesus knows the right people you need in your life at the right times because He is both your friend and brother (Romans 8:29 & James 2:23)!


Are you a good friend and sibling?


  1. List the closest people God has placed in your life.
  2. Ask God to make you a great friend and sibling.
  3. Pray for God to bless your friends and siblings.

One Year Reading Plan

Judges 17:1-18:31, John 3:1-21, Psalm 104:1-23, & Proverbs 14:20-21. Click here to read online.