Proverbs 17:17—”A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.”
There are many who are our friends, when we are in affluent circumstances; but with a change in our condition-if stripped of all riches and substance-then these friends forsake us, or stand at a distance from us. Other friends are sincere; they love us at all times, in prosperity and in times of adversity, even when false friends forsake us. In adversity a friend may be counted closer than ordinary friends, even as a brother. A brother, not by name or blood, but a friend who has brotherly affection.
This proverb compares a friend with a brother, and shows that a friend does what he does by choice. While a brother probably does the same, but by the force and obligations of nature. A brother is born for adversity; to relieve, to sympathize with his brother in distress, to comfort and support him. If a brother does not do this, when it is in his power to do it, he does not serve one of the purposes of his birth.
No brother nor friend, except Christ, deserves our unlimited confidence. In Him, this scripture receives its most glorious fulfilment. To no one person can all this be applied with so much truth and exactness as to our Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from being a friend to angels, Jesus is a “friend” of men, especially of His church and people; of publicans and sinners (as seen when He called us to repentance, when He received us, and when He will come into the world to save us). He loves us, and loves us constantly; He loved us before time; so early were we on His heart and in His book of life; so early was He the surety of us, and the covenant of grace was made with Him; and He took care of all of us and Graces for each of us. He loved us sinners before our time; thus we were preserved in Him, when we fell in Adam. We were redeemed by His precious blood when we were not yet in being. He loved us as soon as time began with us—as soon as we were born—though impure by our first birth, transgressors from the womb, enemies and enmity itself unto Him. Then, Jesus waited to be gracious to us, and sent His Gospel and His Spirit to find us out and to call us: and He continues to love us after conversion; in times of backsliding; in times of desertion; in times of temptation, and in times of affliction. He loves us to the end of time, and to all eternity. There is no such moment of time in which he does not love us. He is a “brother” to us His people—Through His incarnation, He is a partaker of the same flesh and blood with us; through our adoption, having one and the same Father. He is not ashamed to own the relation. He has all the freedom, affection, and compassion, of a brother in Him: for and on the behalf of us, His people; to bear and endure adversity Himself, which He did by coming into a state of poverty; through the reproaches and persecutions of men, the temptations of Satan, the ill use of His own disciples, the desertion of His Father, the strokes of justice, and the sufferings of death; also for the adversity of His people, to sympathize with us, to bear us up under it, and to deliver us out of it.