TROUBLES REVEAL TRUE FRIENDS

WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL

MAY 18, 2024

TOPIC: TROUBLES REVEAL TRUE FRIENDS 

BY T. O. BANSO

Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” (Proverbs 20:6 New Living Translation).

There are different kinds of troubles in life. Some could be personal while some could involve other people. Troubles could come because of something wrong one has done. They could also be because of other reasons.

Everybody prefers not to experience any trouble at all. However, the reality is that everybody experiences one or the other. The nature and gravity usually differ.

Psalm 27:5 says of the LORD, “For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (New King James Version). Nahum 1:7 also assures God’s protection in trouble: “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (New King James Version).

You may not know your true friends when things are going well but negative situations will reveal your genuine friends. Proverbs 19:4 says, “Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend” (New King James Version). The New Living Translation renders the verse thus “Wealth makes many ‘friends’; poverty drives them all away.” According to Proverbs 14:20, “The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, but the rich has many friends” (New King James Version).

But many of those people call their friends are only interested in their money or the things they get from them, not in them. They are not loyal to them; hard times will reveal they are not true friends.    

Proverbs 17:17a says, “A friend loves at all times” (New King James Version). True friends stay with their friends through thick and thin but fair-weather friends do not. They stop being friends when their friends are in trouble. They are just around them because of what they can get from them; they’re exploiters. In adversity, they abandon their friends. They may even join others to keep them down in their trouble rather than help them to overcome it.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “There are ‘friends’ who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother” (New Living Translation). The New International Version says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Judas Iscariot ate with Jesus and still betrayed Him with a kiss (Matthew 26:23-25; Luke 22:48).

When David’s son, Absalom, deposed him and he escaped from Jerusalem, many people stood by him, including Zadok and Abiathar, the priests. A man called Ittai the Gittite also stood by David. David asked him to go back but he wouldn’t. He vowed by the LORD and David’s life that he would go wherever David went, no matter what happened – whether it meant life or death (2 Samuel 15:16-21). That was loyalty to a man in trouble.

However, one of David’s advisers, Ahithophel, defected and became an adviser to Absalom (verse 12). That compounded David’s problem. This was because Ahithophel’s counsel was as wise as though it had come directly from the mouth of God (2 Samuel 16:23).

He was well respected for his advice. When someone told David that Ahithophel was with Absalom, he knew he was in bigger trouble! Therefore, David prayed, “O LORD, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness!” (2 Samuel 15:31 New King James Version).

The Bible does not tell us why Ahithophel joined Absalom’s rebellion. Some have suggested that being the grandfather of Bathsheba, he could have done that as revenge for how David terminated Bathsheba’s first marriage by impregnating her and killing her husband, Uriah. Bathsheba was the daughter of Eliam; Ahithophel was the father of Eliam  (2 Samuel 11:3; 23:34). But the Bible is silent on why Ahithophel turned against David.

David did something else after praying about Ahithophel’s defection. He discouraged his friend, Hushai the Archite, from escaping with him. He was one of his advisers. He asked him to go back to Jerusalem to act as his informant and pretend to be on Absalom’s side so that he could help him counter and defeat Ahithophel’s counsel.

As a true friend, Hushai did exactly that. He convinced Absalom of his loyalty but worked secretly in favour of David. He gave Absalom the wrong counsel, which defeated Ahithophel’s counsel and was in David’s favour. Absalom rejected Ahithophel’s counsel, which, truly, was better.  “Now when Ahithophel saw that his advice was not followed, he saddled a donkey, and arose and went home to his house, to his city. Then he put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died; and he was buried in his father’s tomb” (2 Samuel 17:23 New King James Version). If Ahithophel had remained loyal to David in his trouble, he would not have committed suicide. But God answered David’s prayer; Absalom rejected Ahithophel’s wise counsel.

David had three other people, Shobi, Makir and Barzillai, who were loyal to him in his trouble and gave him provisions after he had fled from Absalom. The Bible focuses more on Barzillai, a member of the tribe of Gilead from Rogelim. He and the two others I mentioned (Shobi and Makir) brought provisions to David and his army at Mahanaim (2 Samuel 17:27-29).

When returning to Jerusalem after the rebellion had been foiled, David asked Barzillai to come across with him. He promised to provide for him while with him in Jerusalem. But he politely turned down the offer because of his old age. He was 80 years old. However, he sent Chimham (Kimham) to cross over with David, asking David to do for him whatever seemed good to him (2 Samuel 19:31-40).

Even while he was on his deathbed, David never forgot the kindness of Barzillai when he was in trouble. He told Solomon to show kindness to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite and let them be among those who ate at his table (1 Kings 2:7).

What kind of a friend are you? What type of friends do you have? Troubles will reveal that. When things were going well for Job, His friends were all around him, but things changed during his trials. Job said his friends scorned or rejected him, but he poured out his tears to God (Job 16:20).

He said in Job 19:13-14, “My relatives stay far away, and my friends have turned against me. My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me” (New Living Translation). Even his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, who came to mourn with him, were miserable comforters (Job 16:2). Instead of comforting him, they condemned him until God finally came to prove them wrong (Job 42:7-9).

However, after the LORD restored the losses of Job, his family members and friends returned to him and feasted with him! Many will feast with you; only a few will fast with you! Such is life. “And the Lord restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then all his brothers, all his sisters, and all those who had been his acquaintances before, came to him and ate food with him in his house; and they consoled him and comforted him for all the adversity that the Lord had brought upon him. Each one gave him a piece of silver and each a ring of gold” (Job 42:10-11 New King James Version).

Lamentations 1:2 says Jerusalem has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her; they have become her enemies. The friends who benefitted from you the most may turn their backs on you in times of trouble. Then, you’ll know your true friends. The friends you least expected to stand by you may be those who will go the whole hog to stand by you. 

Troubles reveal true friends. “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?” (Proverbs 20:6 New Living Translation). Don’t be a fair-weather friend; be a loyal friend. Beware of friends more interested in what to get from you than in you. Nobody prays for troubles but troubles reveal true friends.

TAKE ACTION!

If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner, and cannot save yourself, and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.

Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner, and I cannot save myself.  I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.

I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You must join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.

PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to be a loyal friend. I shall not be a betrayer in Jesus’ name. O Lord, expose every enemy in my life pretending to be a friend. Deliver me from betrayers.

 (For over 900 in-depth and insightful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).

T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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