God’s Word for You
Proverbs 27:10-11 Friends, brothers and sons
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, May 9, 2020
10 Do not forsake your friend or your father’s friend,
and do not go to your brother’s house in your day of trouble.
A neighbor nearby is better than a brother far away.
The first line could be taken two ways, talking about two different friends (yours and your father’s), or the same old friend, the one who was your father’s friend and is now yours. The idea is that it’s better to rely on a friend who is close by in an emergency even over family (even a brother!) who is far away. This isn’t because your brother is unreliable, but because the friend is close by.
This is also why we should carefully keep the Ninth and Tenth Commandments in our hearts whenever we have dealings with people, and especially the people who are our neighbors close by. I don’t just mean that we should keep from coveting what is theirs—that’s obvious. I mean the exhortations that Scripture gives about dealing with our neighbors, which Luther summarizes: “Do all we can to help him keep what is his” (the Ninth Commandment) and “Urge his wife, workers, and even animals to stay and do their duty” (the Tenth).
When I was in Middle School, the High School baseball coach would come sometimes to watch us play ball. He would often step in as third base coach or give us pointers from behind the fence. He wasn’t just helping to shape a team that would one day be his. He was helping us to be better players; to learn to think and act like a team, and that was a lesson for life. We help each other improve and protect what God has given us, regardless of whether it’s mine or yours, and our whole community benefits. We are helping the world, the park in which God has placed us.
11 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad,
so that I may answer anyone who taunts me.
Soncino (a Hebrew commentator) said: “The worth of a master is estimated from the character of his disciples. If, the speaker urges, I am reproved by a critic, let me be able to point to you as a proof of my qualifications.” This proverb can be taken a second way. If the son is wise, his insight might provide help for his father (or his master). This tells a student and a son that he must not only seek his father’s wisdom, but that he should be quick to teach whatever wisdom he has to his own sons. There is nothing so pitiful as a father with fools for sons. He is a father who has failed to keep the Fourth Commandment, since he did not pass along what his own father gave to him and so has dishonored his father and mother. In the proverb, the father has nearly reached the end of his teaching. He pleads for his son to remember it all, for as we grow older, we start to forget the very lessons we once taught. We need our sons and our students to be there for us just as we were there for them. One of the blessings of families is that we continue to share burdens and to support one another throughout our lifetimes.
In the Fifteenth Psalm, the Holy Spirit describes a man who is truly righteous as a man whose path is right, whose actions are right, and whose words are right (Psalm 15:2), and “who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman” (Psalm 15:3). Loving my neighbor isn’t just about resisting the urge to hurt him or steal from him. Loving my neighbor means helping him and being a friend to him. God, of course, put it best: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). The two proverbs teach us the importance of loving both family and friends, and of being a good neighbor to the people all around us. Don’t forget the lessons you have learned in life, and pass along what you have learned. We need to remember this all the more when it comes to matters of faith, because the devil and world attack our faith when we least expect it. Paul struggled with the weakness of his faith, but bolstered himself and the people he wrote to by remembering that he was “an apostle of Jesus Christ” and that this was “by the will of God” (2 Timothy 1:1). This wasn’t Paul’s own idea at all, and all his comfort came from remember that God chose him; he did not choose anything. We should encourage each other the same way. God has made you to be a friend, a brother, a mother—cherish your place in God’s plan. Do everything he gives you to do, and do it to his glory.
Pastor Timothy Smith