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Examples of Friendship in the Bible

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There are a number of friendships in the Bible that remind us of how we should be treating one another on a daily basis. From Old Testament friendships to relationships that inspired epistles in the New Testament, we look to these examples of friendships in the Bible to inspire us in our own relationships.

Abraham and Lot

Abraham reminds us of loyalty and going above and beyond for friends. Abraham gathered hundreds of men to rescue Lot from captivity.

Genesis 14:14-16 - "When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people." (NIV)

Ruth and Naomi

Friendships can be forged among different ages and from anywhere. In this case, Ruth became friends with her mother-in-law and they became family, looking out for one another throughout their lives.

Ruth 1:16-17 - "But Ruth replied, 'Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.'" (NIV)

David and Jonathan

Sometimes friendships form almost instantly. Have you ever met anyone that you just knew immediately was going to be a good friend? David and Jonathan were just like that.

1 Samuel 18:1-3 - "After David had finished talking with Saul, he met Jonathan, the king’s son. There was an immediate bond between them, for Jonathan loved David. From that day on Saul kept David with him and wouldn’t let him return home. And Jonathan made a solemn pact with David, because he loved him as he loved himself." (NLT)

David and Abiathar

Friends protect one another and feel their losses of loved ones deeply. David felt the pain of Abiathar's loss, as well as responsibility for it, so he vowed to protect him from Saul's wrath.

1 Samuel 22:22-23 - "David exclaimed, 'I knew it! When I saw Doeg the Edomite there that day, I knew he was sure to tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family.  Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.'" (NLT)

David and Nahash

Friendship often extends to those who love our friends. When we lose someone close to us, sometimes the only thing we can do is comfort those who were close. David shows his love of Nahash by sending someone to express his sympathy to Nahash's family members.

2 Samuel 10:2 - "David said, 'I am going to show loyalty to Hanun just as his father, Nahash, was always loyal to me.' So David sent ambassadors to express sympathy to Hanun about his father’s death." (NLT)

David and Ittai

Some friends just inspire loyalty until the end, and Ittai felt that loyalty toward David. Meanwhile, David showed great friendship to Ittai by not expecting anything from him. True friendship is unconditional, and both men showed each other great respect with little expectation of reciprocation.

2 Samuel 15:19-21 - "Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, 'Why do you also go with us? Go back and stay with the king, for you are a foreigner and also an exile from your home. You came only yesterday, and shall I today make you wander about with us, since I go I know not where? Go back and take your brothers with you, and may the Lord show steadfast love and faithfulness to you.'  But Ittai answered the king, 'As the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.'" (ESV)

David and Hiram

Hiram had been a good friend of David, and he shows that friendship does not end in the death of the friend, but extends beyond to other loved ones. Sometimes we can show our friendship by expanding our love to others.

1 Kings 5:1- "King Hiram of Tyre had always been friends with Solomon's father David. When Hiram learned that Solomon was king, he sent some of his officials to meet with Solomon." (CEV)

1 Kings 5:7 - "Hiram was so happy when he heard Solomon's request that he said, 'I am grateful that the LORD gave David such a wise son to be king of that great nation!'" (CEV)

Job and His Friends

Friends come to each other when one faces adversity. When Job faced his toughest times, his friends were immediately there with him. In these times of great distress, Job's friends sat with him and let him do the talking. They felt his pain, but also allowed him to feel it without putting their burdens on him at that time. Sometimes just being there is a comfort.

Job 2:11-13 - "Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven.  So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great." (NKJV)

Elijah and Elisha

Friends stick it out with one another, and Elisha shows that by not letting Elijah go to Bethel alone.

2 Kings 2:2 - "And Elijah said to Elisha, 'Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.' But Elisha replied, 'As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!' So they went down together to Bethel." (NLT)

Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

While friends look out for one another, like Daniel did when he requested that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be promoted to high positions, sometimes God leads us to help our friends so they can help others. The three friends went on to show King Nebuchadnezzar that God is great and the only God.

Daniel 2:49 - "At Daniel’s request, the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be in charge of all the affairs of the province of Babylon, while Daniel remained in the king’s court." (NLT)

Jesus with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus

Jesus had a close friendship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus to a point where they spoke plainly to him, and he resurrected Lazarus from the dead. True friends are able to speak their minds honestly to one another, whether right or wrong. Meanwhile, friends do what they can to tell each other the truth and help one another.

Luke 10:38 - "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him." (NIV)

John 11:21-23 - "'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.' Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.'” (NIV)

Paul, Priscilla and Aquila

Friends introduce friends to other friends. In this case, Paul is introducing friends to one another and asking that his greetings be sent to those close to him.

Romans 16:3-4 - "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them." (NIV)

Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus

Paul talks about the loyalty of friends and the willingness of those close to us to look out for one another. In this case, Timothy and Epaphroditus are the types of friends that take care of those close to them.

Philippians 2:19-26 - "I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. I don't have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does. The others think only about what interests them and not about what concerns Christ Jesus. But you know what kind of person Timothy is. He has worked with me like a son in spreading the good news. 23I hope to send him to you, as soon as I find out what is going to happen to me. And I feel sure that the Lord will also let me come soon. I think I ought to send my dear friend Epaphroditus back to you. He is a follower and a worker and a soldier of the Lord, just as I am. You sent him to look after me, but now he is eager to see you. He is worried, because you heard he was sick." (CEV)

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