Friends You Can Do Without

“Whatever you need, I’ve got your back!”

Sounds like the words of a true friend, someone who will do anything for you. If you are discouraged, this friend will find the bright side. If there is something you want, this friend will help you get it. If there is a dispute with someone, this friend will always be on your side. This friend always has something good to say about you and never gives you a hard time. This friend is someone you can trust.

Maybe not.

“Friends” who will always do what you need may not really be your friend. Instead, whatever good they do for you comes with a hidden price. The apparent selflessness may be a cover for a clever selfishness. The good that is done for you is really an investment that is made for the benefit of your friend’s own self-interest.

Jonadab was this sort of a friend: always there to give advice, solve a problem, to do whatever it takes. Dale Ralph Davis describes Jonadab this way:

“Thus Jonadab is ‘wise’; he knows all the angles, knows how to work the angles, he knows how to make anything succeed – even the rape of a cousin. Jonadab is the consummate politician: he gets things done.”

Jonadab pretended to be the friend of Amnon, the Crown Prince of Israel. His only interest was to give Amnon what he wanted. If he had been Amnon’s true friend, he would have rebuked him for his lust for Tamar. If Jonadab had cared less for himself and more for God he might have prevented the ugly events that followed Amnon’s rape of his cousin, Tamar. Tamar was disgraced, Absalom enraged, Amnon was murdered, David retreated in silent grief, Absalom’s revenge yielded a civil war, and eventually his own death.

All of this happened because Jonadab was a “friend” who was there for Amnon.

How can you recognize the “Jonadabs” in your life? How can you know who is really your friend and who is just using your for their own good?

Solomon has the answer:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend;
profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Provverbs 27:6

In this passage, “wounds are a metaphor for the painful and plain words that must be spoken in a true friendship.” (Waltke from his commentary on this verse.) Instead of faithfully wounding Amnon, Jonadab covered him with profuse concern and lead him along the path to destruction. The warning is clear — someone who only has profuse praise for you is your enemy.

Seek friendships from people who will lovingly tell you the truth about yourself. Someone who tells you whatever you want to hear is a friend you can and should do without.

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