Derek Kidner, in his commentary on Proverbs, offers the following outline describing “The Good Friend” according to the Proverbs in the Bible.

Four Features of a Good Friend:

  1. Constancy–a good friend is loyal in good times and bad. They don’t quit on you. They love you for you–not for “what’s in it for them.” (18:24)
  2. Candour–this is British for “candor” and refers to honesty. You can depend on a good friend to tell you the truth–even if they know it will hurt: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (27:6)
  3. Counsel–here, Kidner lists two sides: a) The cheering effect of fellowship (we all love this one); and b) the healthy clash of personalities or views (27:17) (this one is less fun, but if you’ve experienced it, you don’t want anything less. I’m afraid this is especially difficult today, because our society is becoming cynical about the possibility that friends may disagree–even passionately disagree, while maintaining the friendship. But we all need friendships that care enough to confront our views and challenge our thinking).
  4. Tact–this is respect for another’s feelings–and is a critical factor to make the above features 2 and 3 possible. The Proverbs warns about lapses in tact: a) by overstaying one’s welcome (25:17); b) by being too hearty at the wrong time (like shouting “Good morning!” before anyone has had their coffee–see 27:14); or c) by not knowing when a joke has gone far enough (26:18-19).