Please excuse the delay in posting this and the next few instalments, as I have been without Internet access for a few days.
4 August. Proverbs chapters 27-29
Today I am considering just one verse from these three chapters:
“Do not forsake your friend or the friend of your parent; do not go to the house of your kindred on the day of your calamity. Better is a neighbour who is nearby than kindred who are far away.” (27:10)
Friends and family are both great to have. Even introverts like myself (I use the term in its technical sense, meaning someone who is happy working or relaxing alone) enjoy spending time with friends and relatives. Like many people in our increasingly mobile society, my family is scattered – my nearest cousin lives twenty miles away, and my mother and sisters much further than that. So I particularly value friends. Some of those friends live close and I see them every week (or more), others are old friends is different parts of the country whom I meet less often but are still in my thoughts and prayers.
Loneliness on the other hand is a state that many people fear, especially as they get older. One of the downsides of living a long life is that gradually, and more frequently with the passing years, one’s older relatives and friends, and then those of one’s own generation, die and are taken from us. It is not always easy to find new friends in later life, and for those of us who do not have children of our own it can be difficult to make friends with younger generations in the family.
The writer of this proverb may be saying something similar. Kindred (family) may have a moral or even legal obligation – stronger in Biblical times than our own – to look after their kin. See the book of Ruth for example, where even a distant relative by marriage from a foreign land was owed a duty to be looked after. But in practice, having a loving sister hundreds of miles away is not of great help if you have some urgent need today. The woman next door, or the friend a few streets away, is likely to be of more help, so make sure you have such networks in place – and of course, offer your own help to them in return.