Alexander Whyte on Friendship’s “Power”

Alexander Whyte’s commentary on Bible Characters is among my favorite books. It is full of powerful, insightful and deeply emotional considerations of the challenges and privileges the characters of the Bible endured and experienced. It is a must for your library!

Abraham is described in the Bible as “the friend of God” (James 2:23). This was perhaps the most intriguing title ever given to a created being.

The 19th Century biblical biographer, Alexander Whyte, describes the significance of the term, in the language of his time:

You may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flower of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no [substance] opens the heart but a true friend ‑‑ a true friend to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lies upon the heart to oppress it. . .

The great office of a friend is to try our thoughts by the measure of his judgements; to task the wholesomeness of our designs and purposes by the feelings of his heart; to protect us from the solitary and selfish part of our nature; to speak to and to call out those finer and better parts of our nature which the customs of this world stifle; and to open up to us a career worthy of our powers.”

Deep within my heart and yours we crave for that kind of a friendship, don’t we? We long for a relationship with someone who will love us enough to understand us and yet challenge us enough to help us rise to our potential in life. Someone to encourage our dreams. Someone to confront our oversights. Someone to shield us in our insecure moments. Someone to guide us in our bolder ones. Someone who will be interested in what interests us. Someone who will hold us and never let us go.

Larry Richards writes, “While friendship among humans may be expressed in table fellowship and neighborliness (Jn. 12:1‑8), friendship with God is expressed in commitment to Jesus and in a life lived by His Words.”

So, you too, have been invited to be a “friend of God”. That would make you highly privileged. That would make you blessed. Also, that would make you … a sinner.