9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,
and the pleasantness of a friend
springs from their heartfelt advice.
10 Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family,
and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you—
better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.
11 Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart;
then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.
Perfume and incense are both rare and costly, but they have the ability to bring joy to the heart. The same goes for friendship. True friendship is a difficult thing to find and may be costly to maintain, but there are few things more pleasant than the heartfelt advice of an intimate friend. Do not shy away from sharing your heart with your friends, it is better to have a few deep friends than a dozen shallow acquaintances.
“Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away.” Two more keys to deep friendship are given here: loyalty and transparency. A friend in need may be an inconvenience, but it is also an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of loyalty. Do not withhold the same opportunity from your friends when you are in need, because as Ben Franklin observed: “He that has once done you a Kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”
“Be wise, my son, and bring joy to my heart; then I can answer anyone who treats me with contempt.” Friendship and wisdom have many benefits, not only for the child but also for the father. While much good can come from relying on friends, an over dependent child is often an embarrassment. There are few things more pleasing to a father than a wise and competent child, the honor of a wise son remedies the contempt of an unwise acquaintance.