Across the grasslands of East Africa live some of nature's most fascinating animals. The rhinoceros, a two-horned terror of tremendous speed, size and agility, is feared by most other beasts. Being one of the most dangerous animals in the world, the rhino is avoided by most animals – that is, except the buffalo bird. Watching the rhinoceros in his natural habitat, you would see these birds perched on his back. From time to time, some would be pecking into his back, much as a woodpecker would work away at an old tree. Other buffalo birds would be flying about the head of the rhino, still others lighting on his ears and pecking away. The most amazing thing is that the rhino does not attack, for the two have an understanding. From birth, the rhino has poor eyesight. In addition, his body is covered with parasites, which he cannot control. The flock of birds on his back do him a great service by eating these parasites, which are the whole diet of the buffalo bird. If there is any danger in the area, these birds let out a shrill call, warning the rhino of what he cannot see. In return for this service, they are protected from their natural predators by one of Africa's largest mammals. In a real sense, these two totally different animals of the wild kingdom are fulfilling the responsibilities of mutual friendship.
Charles Kingsley, when asked what was the secret of his beautiful life, answered, "I had a friend." The Hebrew word for "friend" means "love, companion, give of yourself, have alliance with." Jonathan and David developed a very unique friendship, that stood the test of time. 1 Samuel says of Jonathan, "For he loved him as he loved his own soul."
Solomon described a friend as one "who sticks closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). There is a most interesting custom among the Arabs whereby a friendship covenant is made by a simple act of offering a sop of fresh-baked bread dipped into a grape molasses (dibs). It is called (Khuwy) the Covenant of Brotherhood.
John Wesley wrote, "A man must have friends or make friends, for no one ever went to Heaven alone."
Dave Arnold, Pastor
Gulf Coast Worship Center
New Port Richey , Florida 34654