Proverbs 19:7

All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him! He pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
– Proverbs 19:7

The kin of the poor are said to hate him. His friends have even less reason or attachment and so abandon him as well. The word for pursueth means to run after, and he has nothing to offer them but his words, or pleadings (Proverbs 18:23). The poor man has no leverage or natural attraction for people, so he is hated by all (Proverbs 14:20). This proverb furthers the observations of Proverbs 19:4, 6.

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Proverbs 19:6

Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.
– Proverbs 19:6

Commentators vary whether this proverb is negative or positive. The word for many means abundant, indicating a large number. Generally, having many friends in Proverbs is negative (see commentary on Proverbs 18:24). The prince and him that giveth gifts both have a power to give and do for others, so men naturally are drawn to them (Proverbs 29:26). The poor have fewer friends because they have no power to draw to themselves (Proverbs 19:4). The emphasis on friendship in Proverbs doesn’t have to do with being poor or rich, but it is better to have fewer and truer friends (Proverbs 17:17).

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Proverbs 18:24

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
– Proverbs 18:24

The Hebrew here is difficult and the interpretations vary. The word for friends in the first phrase is a general term than can mean neighbor, companion, or close friend. The word for friend in the second phrase is a stronger term indicating a bond of affection. We also note the first term is plural and the second singular, meaning the proverb moves from many to one. This indicates a contrast in the parallel making the first phrase have a negative gloss and the second a more positive one. The words must show himself friendly translate one Hebrew word, raw-ah’. This word appears 83 times in the Old Testament and is most often translated evil, evildoer, hurt, wickedly, etc. The word has a negative connotation and supports the interpretation of the first phrase negatively. Solomon’s point is that having a true, close friend is better than having many looser friends, or associates (Proverbs 17:17; 27:10).

This understanding agrees with the general tenor of Proverbs concerning many friends. Having multiplied friends increases the likelihood of having fickle friends (Proverbs 14:20; 19:4, 6-7), and the bother of having inconsiderate friends (Proverbs 25:17, 20; 26:18-19; 27:14; 29:5). Having fewer, but truly good friends means we are more likely to have the benefit of loyalty (Proverbs 17:17), loving honesty (Proverbs 27:6), good advice (Proverbs 27:9), and a mutual bettering through differences of personality or understanding (Proverbs 27:17).

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Proverbs 14:20

The poor is hated even of his own neighbor: but the rich hath many friends.
– Proverbs 14:20

This proverb is a wise observation of reality. The poor are those without resources and means (Proverbs 10:15; Luke 14:13-14). Consequently, they don’t have so many friends as the rich do. We would call these sorts of friends as belonging to the fair-weather class (Proverbs 19:4, 6).

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