The Scriptures are replete…with references to friendship…A friend is someone with whom we share our life and who will be there for us…someone against whom, to whom and with whom we live this thing called life.
This comes from a new book called As Good As It Gets by Stephen M. Clark. I’m meant to be reviewing it, which will mean having to say some intelligent-sounding things about it in not so many days’ time. But for now, you get my not-so-intellectual response to a few pages which I read this morning!
The book works as a devotional, with each day having a three to six page allocation of text. Each chunk of reading includes some devotional commentary (albeit with plenty of academic references!) on portions of the Song of Songs together with other Scriptures for meditation and concludes with a written prayer.
My reading today focuses on Song 1:9-11 and includes the text above. It draws out the significance of compliments to, and affirmations of, those whom we love. It’s made me think again about friendship, a topic upon which we do not often seem to preach.
We have friendship with God, a treasure above any other: as Clark highlights with his choice of Scriptures for meditation, just as the Lord spoke to Moses face to face as with a friend, so also Jesus no longer calls us servants but friends. Yet his Scripture choices for today do not leave us here: quoting Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 and Ephesians 6:21-22, Clark reminds us about the gift of human friendships for encouragement and protection.
I have to say that when I first began to use this devotional, I wasn’t sure about the Scripture meditation section with its focus on Scriptures outside of the Song and its lack of commentary on the verses selected. And sometimes, I must admit, they do feel a bit random and unconnected with the writing which has gone before them. But this element of the devotional is beginning to grow on me. For it is these verses which seem to come back to me in the day, which bring my mind back to the subject of the main devotional focus in the Song.
Today, those verses from Ecclesiastes 4 are rattling around my brain. And as they do, they remind me of Clark’s words about friendship and his focus on the power of affirmation given to our friends. ‘If one falls down, his friend can help him up.’
Who needs your friendship today? Who needs to receive your affirmation and encouragement to help them up?