22 He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the Lord.
23 The poor plead for mercy,
but the rich answer harshly.
24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Marriage is not always convenient, nor it is easy, but it is good. What can be said of the alternative? For those who are committed to some great cause, which requires their full devotion, marriage may be worth sacrificing. But those who sacrifice it on the altar of independence, or out of fear of vulnerability, or simply to keep their options open – should consider if these things are worth the cost. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
“The poor plead for mercy, but the rich answer harshly.” Wealth is a dangerous thing. Without gratitude it leads to arrogance, without wisdom it enables great folly. It is easy for the wealthy to have contempt for the poor, as if they were at fault for their own condition. Indeed sometimes they are. But wisdom reminds us that we could have also been born into adversity, or without the traits to which we owe our success. The natural urge is to resist mercy, question the pauper’s intent, and come up with objections to the opportunity at hand. Instead we ought to resist the pride within, doubt our own assumptions, and err on the side of mercy.
“One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” There is laughter in friendship, camaraderie and excitement. But those whose friendships go no deeper than this may find out too late they were not deep enough. Here is a reason for gratitude in the midst of adversity, it is an opportunity for true friendship to make itself known. Stick with a friend through hardship and sorrow, through bad times as well as good, and they will stick with you.