A Better Understanding of “A Man That Hath Friends Must Shew Himself Friendly” – Pro 18:24

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The Poor Translation of Proverbs 18:24 – “A Man…Must Shew Himself Friendly”

Pro 18:24  KJV A man that hath friends must shew himself friendlyH7489: and there is a friendH157 that sticketh closer than a brother.

The above verse is often quoted by well-meaning Christian parents to their children and to someone displaying grumpiness to get them to be more outgoing and sociable. This verse is very poorly translated. I noticed that the phrase “must shew himself friendly” is translated from one word, Strong’s H7489, the Hebrew word ra’, which means evil.


A primitive root; properly to spoil (literally by breaking to pieces); figuratively to make (or be) good for nothing, that is, bad (physically, socially or morally). (associate selves and show self friendly are by mistake for H7462.): – afflict, associate selves [by mistake for H7462], break (down, in pieces), + displease, (be, bring, do) evil (doer, entreat, man), show self friendly [by mistake for H7462], do harm, (do) hurt, (behave self, deal) ill, X indeed, do mischief, punish, still vex, (do) wicked (doer, -ly), be (deal, do) worse.

Total KJV occurrences: 98

Additionally, the second “friend” is translated from Strong’s H157, the Hebrew word ahab, which is most often translated as a form of “lover” or “loved one”.

אָהֵב    אָהַב
‘âhab    ‘âhêb
aw-hab’, aw-habe’

A primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise): – (be-) love (-d, -ly, -r), like, friend.

Total KJV occurrences: 208

love, 74
Gen_27:4, Gen_29:32, Exo_20:6, Exo_21:5, Lev_19:18, Lev_19:34, Deu_5:10, Deu_6:5, Deu_7:9, Deu_7:13, Deu_10:12, Deu_10:15, Deu_10:19, Deu_11:1, Deu_11:13, Deu_11:22, Deu_13:3, Deu_19:9, Deu_30:6, Deu_30:16, Deu_30:20, Jos_22:5, Jos_23:11, Jdg_5:31, Jdg_16:15, 1Sa_18:22, 2Sa_13:4, 2Ch_19:2, Neh_1:5, Psa_4:2, Psa_5:11, Psa_31:23, Psa_40:16, Psa_69:36, Psa_70:4, Psa_97:10, Psa_116:1, Psa_119:97, Psa_119:113, Psa_119:119, Psa_119:127, Psa_119:132, Psa_119:159, Psa_119:163, Psa_119:165, Psa_119:167, Psa_122:6, Psa_145:20, Pro_1:22, Pro_4:6, Pro_8:17 (2), Pro_8:21, Pro_8:36, Pro_9:8, Pro_16:13, Pro_18:21, Pro_20:13, Ecc_3:8, Son_1:3-4 (2), Isa_56:6, Isa_61:8, Isa_66:10, Jer_5:31, Dan_9:4, Hos_3:1 (2), Hos_4:18, Hos_14:4, Amo_5:15, Mic_3:2, Zec_8:17, Zec_8:19

loved, 48
Gen_24:67, Gen_25:28 (2), Gen_27:14, Gen_29:18, Gen_29:30, Gen_37:3-4 (3), Deu_4:37, Deu_23:5, Jdg_16:4, 1Sa_1:5, 1Sa_16:21, 1Sa_18:1, 1Sa_18:16, 1Sa_18:20, 1Sa_18:28, 1Sa_20:17, 2Sa_12:24, 2Sa_13:1, 2Sa_13:15, 1Ki_3:3, 1Ki_11:1, 2Ch_11:21, 2Ch_26:10, Est_2:17, Job_19:19, Psa_26:8, Psa_47:4, Psa_78:68, Psa_109:17, Psa_119:47-48 (2), Isa_43:4, Isa_48:14, Jer_2:25, Jer_8:2, Jer_14:10, Jer_31:3, Eze_16:37, Hos_9:1, Hos_9:10, Mal_1:1-2 (4), Mal_2:11

loveth, 38
Gen_27:9, Gen_44:20, Deu_10:18, Deu_15:16, Rth_4:15, Psa_11:5, Psa_11:7, Psa_33:5, Psa_34:12, Psa_37:28, Psa_87:2, Psa_99:4, Psa_119:140, Psa_146:8, Pro_3:12, Pro_12:1 (2), Pro_13:24, Pro_15:9, Pro_15:12, Pro_17:17, Pro_17:19 (2), Pro_19:8, Pro_21:17 (2), Pro_22:11, Pro_29:3, Ecc_5:10 (2), Son_1:7, Son_3:1-4 (4), Isa_1:23, Hos_10:11, Hos_12:7

lovers, 17
Psa_38:11, Jer_22:20, Jer_22:22, Jer_30:14, Lam_1:2, Lam_1:19, Eze_16:33, Eze_16:36-37 (2), Eze_23:5, Eze_23:9, Eze_23:22, Hos_2:5, Hos_2:7, Hos_2:10, Hos_2:12-13 (2)

friends, 8
2Sa_19:6, Est_5:10, Est_5:14, Est_6:13, Pro_14:20, Jer_20:4, Zec_13:6 (2)

lovest, 7
Gen_22:2, Jdg_14:16, 2Sa_19:6, Psa_45:7, Psa_52:3-4 (2), Ecc_9:9

beloved, 6
Deu_21:15-16 (3), Neh_13:26, Son_1:16, Hos_3:1

friend, 4
2Ch_20:7, Pro_18:24, Pro_27:6, Isa_41:8

lover, 2
1Ki_5:1, Psa_88:18

liketh, 1

lovedst, 1

lovely, 1

loving, 1

I looked at other versions, and found Proverbs 18:24 is much better translated elsewhere than as the King James Version has it.

Pro 18:24 BBE  There are friends who may be a man’s destruction, but there is a lover who keeps nearer than a brother.

Pro 18:24 ESV+  A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Pro 18:24 CLV  There are associates disposed to be evildoers, Yet there is one with love more loyal than a brother’s.”

Pro 18:24 WEBA  A man of many companions may be ruined, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Pro 18:24 LITV  A man of friends may be broken up, but there is a Lover who sticks closer than a brother.

Pro 18:24 Rotherham  A man having many friends, shall come to ruin, but there is a loving one, who sticketh closer than a brother.

There are two ways that the first part of this verse can be understood:  1) a man’s many friends are evil/ruined/destructive/etc. or  2) having many friends can lead a man to evil/ruin/destruction etc. From what the Lord has given me, and although the first point can also be true, the sum of God’s word witnesses to the second point, “having many ‘friends’ can lead a man to evil.” I hope to share some of the scriptures to which the Lord led me as witnesses.

The “many friends” of Pro 18:24 are the “multitude” of Exo 23:2, the “workers of iniquity” of Job 34:8, and the “enticing sinners” of Pro 1:10 from whom we are warned to avoid.

Exo 23:2 (KJV) Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment:

Job 34:7 (KJV)  What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water?
Job 34:8  Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men.
Job 34:9  For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

Pro 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.
Pro 1:11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause:
Pro 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit:
Pro 1:13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:
Pro 1:14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse:
Pro 1:15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
Pro 1:16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.

From the beginning, all flesh was created to be easily enticed and deceived. Witness how easily Eve was deceived by the serpent. That is why we are warned so many times to keep away from the “many friends”, which represent the worldly, carnal spirit of mankind. Although these verses are speaking of physical people, it is much more speaking about the doctrines that these people bring to us. Our example is that Christ sat with sinners and publicans.

Mar 2:15  And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him.
Mar 2:16  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?

In fact, in the parable of the unjust steward, we are told to be wise and diligent, according to what is obedient to the Lord, with the physical things that we have been given (finances, labor, school work, time, relationships, etc.) in order to “make to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness.”

Luk 16:8  And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.
Luk 16:9  And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.

This does not at all contradict what we are told about not having many friends who may lead us to do evil, but it adds to our understanding. The Spirit of Christ will lead us to make wise decisions and be diligent in our obedience to our Father. If we remain faithful and obedient to our Father, we will not be enticed or deceived by the multitude of sinners and publicans, but rather, they will follow our example (whether in this age or the lake of Fire only God knows) and sit and eat our doctrine when their time comes. Yet, we are told in 1Co 15:33  that in keeping [continuing in the doctrine and ways of…] evil associates, our good manners [obedient lifestyle] will be corrupted.

1Co 15:33 KJV  Be not deceived: evil communications [G3657 companionship; from G3658 associates/multitude] corrupt good manners.

We are led to do evil by many friends when we fear and obey man rather than fear and obey God.

Mat 10:28 KJV  And fear not them which kill the body […many friends…], but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Act 5:29 KJV  Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

From my experience with living in this huge city, I am surrounded by thousands of evil spirits on a daily basis, I walk past a few hundred and work with many who are bitter, angry, and disgruntled at their jobs. I say that to make this point – if it were not for the Spirit of the Lord, and the Body of Christ, for which I am so grateful, I, who am the the chiefest of sinners, can be easily enticed into conversations that will lead me to “move” or react, to the tune of the many spirits that surround me. But, BLESSED ARE WE, when the Lord has given us the wisdom, strength and courage to not desire the “many friends that lead a man to do evil,” but rather are hated, and separated from their company.

Luk 6:22 KJV  Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Which leads me to the second part of Proverbs 18:24–the loving one who is closer than a brother.

Pro 18:24 Rotherham  A man having many friends, shall come to ruin, but there is a loving one, who sticketh closer than a brother.

There is a loving one who is closer than a brother. That loving one is Christ and His Christ. [This article will be helpful to explain what/who is the ‘Christ of Christ’ here]

Joh 15:9 KJV  As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Job 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
Job 15:11  These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

1Jn 4:19 KJV  We love him, because he first loved us.
1Jn 4:20  If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
1Jn 4:21  And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

The loving one, Christ, has joined us all in a brotherhood that is unknowable, unsearchable and unattainable in the world. We are closer than brothers, having the same love and being of one accord and mind.

Php 2:2 KJV  Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

I pray that we are all given the wisdom and diligence to remain faithful to our Father’s words. May we all keep from following a multitude to think and do evil, and may we all remember the safe haven the Lord has blessed us with within this Body of believers, where we speak the same things, and where we make known to each other all that the Lord has given us to hear–like true friends in Christ/brothers.

Joh 15:14 KJV  Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Joh 15:15  Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

[Addendum by G. Taylor]

A kingdom divided cannot stand, and we do certainly desire to be of that One single mind of which you speak in your study.

I was particularly edified when I saw how the Hebrew word for friend/lover is ‘ahab’ – (Strong’s H157). I had never before noticed this, and it immediately made me think of King Ahab, who was certainly a friend/lover of carnal thoughts.

Evil-mindedness ruled in Ahab’s heavens. He didn’t seem to care how his wife Jezebel murdered many of the Lord’s prophets, and he was more than happy to be complicit in his wife’s murderous actions in having Naboth killed for his vineyard. King Ahab lusted after Naboth’s land, and all this points to the carnal mind that is ‘friendly’ towards the law for the lawless/accusing-excusing mindset that ‘loves’ the ‘world’ of carnal emotions/lusts inside – those which need to be circumcised from our hearts before we are acceptable to God.

Ahab’s name is defined thus in Strong’s:


Once (by contraction) oechab (Jer 29:22) [ekh- awb’]; from ‘ach and ‘ab; brother (i.e. Friend) of (his) father; Achab, the name of a king of Israel and of a prophet at Babylon — Ahab.

see HEBREW ‘ach

see HEBREW ‘ab

When we are friends of our Father the Devil, then we, too, go on allowing the murder of God’s Prophets in the heavens of our mind and are married to “that way”/Jezebel.

[Comments or questions may be directed to the author at ernesto.riverasr@gmail.com]