It’s now three years since an idiopathic wind of famine has continued to blow across Israel. Poor David, he doesn’t have any clue as to its origin and, unlike him, hadn’t sought the face of God for answers. The Gibeonites had presented themselves as beggars from a distant country and pleaded with the elders of Israel to enter into a covenant with them. Joshua unwittingly agreed.
That was certainly a great accord for the Gibeonites – crafty, deceitful but artful. However, it wasn’t so for Israel; for going into covenant with the Gibeonites without consulting God brought 3 years of untold pain and hardship. When Saul broke the agreement, his house and the entire nation paid heavily for doing so.
The ruse of the Gibeonites is similar in some respect to the subterfuge of Odysseus. According to Homer, in Iliad, after a ten-year siege of the city of Troy, Odysseus came up with this artifice – the Trojan horse (aka the Greek gift), the reception of which became the doom of the Trojans.
The above events enter into the picture painted by Jesus of ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing – unfriendly friends with their gifts and sweet talks.
But now, let’s go a bit farther
Jonadab, Amnon’s friend
Does anyone still remember Jonadab in 2 Samuel 13:1 -5? That subtle serpent of a man, that was a friend to the oldest son of King David, Amnon. The Bible records that Amnon had deep sensual feelings for Tamar, his sister. But despite his frustration over her, he didn’t make any wrong moves because he thought it was impossible to do anything to her.
It was in the midst of such an emotional tug that Jonadab came around and quickly proffered a solution – one that Amnon couldn’t even device in his lowest moments.
And just like the sensual (appealing to the senses) wisdom displayed by the subtle serpent in the garden of Eden, he only showed the immediate satisfaction Amnon would derive from feigning sick and sleeping with Tamar but failed to show the consequences of such a terrible act.
Amnon lost his life eventually but we have no idea if Jonadab received a just recompense for his not-so-friendly input.
Sorry to disturb you again, but do you remember the friends of Haman? Haman was certainly a man who craved honour and reverence but don’t forget that he worked for it. In fact, his name, Haman means well-disposed. So, he must have been doing something right to earn promotion to an eminent position in the kingdom of king Ahasuerus. But he lacked character, he wasn’t principled. As we know, your gifts can get you into that position of influence but it’s character that will keep you there.
So, Haman, an Agagite – a descendant of Amalek, was just basking in the euphoria of his promotion and didn’t even take notice of the fact that Mordecai wasn’t bowing to him as he passed. It was only after the king’s servants had told him that he noticed that there was a man named Mordecai in the king’s gate.
Had these servants not spoken, maybe Haman wouldn’t have noticed. But the king’s servants saw that Haman was now above all the princes and servants in the land and sought to curry some favour from him.
Also, in Esther 3:6, we see that Haman had thought to deal ruthlessly with Mordecai alone. But these same wanna-be friends told him that Mordecai is a Jew, part of a people under captivity in the kingdom of Ahasuerus. This singular devilish insight, coupled with Haman’s quest for power and reverence, drove him nuts.
Haman quickly moved to implore King Ahasuerus to make a decree to destroy the Jews in the land. What a terrible fire that has been lighted! These servants didn’t think of the consequences of their actions; they were simply interested in some form of recognition. How deadly can suggestions from sycophants be!
Well, that’s not the end of the story – Haman wasn’t satisfied with the decree nor with the other privileges he enjoyed. His insatiable thirst for blood can only be quenched by setting a public example with Mordecai.
So, what did he do? He spoke with his friends and, of course, his wife. And they counselled him to make gallows to hang Mordecai. Well, the story ended differently – Haman was hanged on those gallows. But there’s no record of his friends receiving any recompense for their not-so-friendly suggestions. It began with a not-so-friendly whispering and ended up costing the head of Haman.
Now, this article isn’t meant to inseminate speculation, suspicion and distrust in our relationship one with another, rather it’s intended to push for prudence. For:
- Jonadab, Haman’s friends and the Gibeonites are still around us today.
- Some compliments are derogatory, some imitation flattery, some smiles hiding a scalpel, some offers deleterious and some questions delilic.
- There are friends who instead of bringing out the best will always dig deep to bring out the worst in you.
- Some ‘friends’ are ready to take your wife if you fail to show up. Remember Samson’s friend in Judges 14:20.
- Most people jump on the winner’s horse for their personal gains. Once the winner falls off his horse, they get off and move on to the next. Be wary.
- A true friend is an asset while sycophants are deficits. So, have those who can pull you back when you begin to have unholy desires.
- As you ascend the social ladder of life, people will consciously or unconsciously talk to you with your current position in mind. So, make sure to have sincere friends who aren’t sycophants.
Remember that some false friends are so hard to detect because they’ve perfected the art of camouflage. Therefore, Seek God’s face and He’ll reveal the face behind the mask. Discernment is of great essence.
And before you start looking around among your friends and family, check if you’re one.
Scriptural references: 2 Sam. 21:1; Joshua 9: 3; Judges 14:20; Esther 3 – 8; Matthew 7:15; Proverbs 1:17.
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God bless us.