A Friend Not to Have (or Be)

Joseph Esposito
2 Samuel 13:1-5 And it came to pass after this, that Absalom the son of David had a fair sister, whose name was Tamar; and Amnon the son of David loved her. And Amnon was so vexed, that he fell sick for his sister Tamar; for she was a virgin; and Amnon thought it hard for him to do any thing to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah David’s brother: and Jonadab was a very subtil man. And he said unto him, Why art thou, being the king’s son, lean from day to day? wilt thou not tell me? And Amnon said unto him, I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister. And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed, and make thyself sick: and when thy father cometh to see thee, say unto him, I pray thee, let my sister Tamar come, and give me meat, and dress the meat in my sight, that I may see it, and eat it at her hand.

One of the most important decisions we will make in life is that of who our friends are. Someone has said, “Five years from now, you will be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the friends you have.” Furthermore, the friends we allow our children to have will shape who they become—for good or for bad. Here we see a young man, Amnon, who had a bright future. He was the king’s eldest son. He was well known in the kingdom. He had much potential.

Amnon had a certain affection that was causing inner turmoil. Instead of channeling it properly or seeking counsel, he shared his affection with a friend, who happened to be a cousin. Side note—just because someone is family, doesn’t mean they are good for us or our children as close friends. Amnon’s friend influenced him to make a decision that caused ripple effects in his family, as well as the entire kingdom. I see three negative attributes of this friend:

1. His friend was subtle. According to Webster’s dictionary, subtle means “smooth and deceptive.” A sure mark of a friend we ought not to have is one who is subtle and deceitful. If our friend is subtle with us and for us, they will be subtle to us. Furthermore, I will become what I am around.

2. His friend was entitled. Jonadab’s basis for his plan was, “You’re the king’s son. You deserve to be happy. You deserve not to be lean from day to day. You deserve what you want.” One reason our society is a mess is because of an entitled mentality. Truth is, we don’t “deserve” anything. What we are and what we have are by God’s grace. If we begin to hang around with “entitled” people, we will begin to feel entitled. Entitled people lack humility. Entitled people lack gratitude. Entitled people live in the past. Entitled people don’t reach their potential.

3. His friend was not under authority. What was Jonadab’s plan? “We know the king will come around. Let’s do this under his nose and behind his back.” And that’s what Amnon did. We know from Tamar’s comments that Amnon could have gotten the king’s blessing and had much different results. We’re in dangerous territory when our friends are people who are not under authority. Even little pop shots at those the Lord has put over us will rub off on us.

Amnon’s friend was deceitful. Amnon’s friend had an entitled mentality. Amnon’s friend was not a man under authority. And each point rubbed off on him. When choosing our friends, let’s evaluate their character, and how their influence will affect us. Let’s stay away from the influence of friends with these characteristics. On the other hand, let’s seek out friends that will help us to love the Lord and have eternal priorities.

Joseph Esposito

Bro Esposito serves as the vice president of our Bible college, teaches the Cross Point Adult Bible Class, and heads up our children and teen Sunday school ministry. He and his wife Jennifer have four children and one on the way.

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