Loyalty is an interesting thing - and something that is not as prevelant in our day. Too often we don't really know who is living around us - and far too many of us don't have a group of "go-to" friends who will be there for us no matter what. A wise man knows the value of true friends - and does not abandon them throughout all of life.
Here we see that Solomon tells his son to be a loyal friend. Don't forsake your own friend - or even your father's friend. There are blessings that come to us when we have long term friends. They are there with us in the good and the bad in our lives. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that two are better than one - because they have a good return for their labor. Two when laying down can keep each other warm - and when someone falls - it is always a blessing to have someone to help you to get up off the ground and back on your way. But then Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, "But woe to the man who has no one to pick him up when he falls." In closing we read that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Here is why it is good to maintain a loyalty to your friends - and even the friends of your parents. You need people in your life to help make it strong. This is especially the case when you fall and have difficult times in your life.
Having close friends is essential in a society where we don't stay close to family any longer. The strand ot three cords often cannot include close family - because we don't live close to them any longer. That is why Solomon tells us that a neighbor who is near is better than a brother who is far away. When tragedy and trouble strike - they often do so without warning. In those moments we need someone who can come quickly to our side and offer us comfort and encouragement. That is the moment when you need the neighbor who is near. But those kinds of relationships have to be cultivated over time - and that requires both effort and time. The onset of the television, the internet, and the world where videos and games dominate our time - has led to the lack of skills that are necessary to build long-term friendships - and much necessary fellowship. We may be able to get an awesome score on whatever Mario game is popular today - or on Halo with some guy from Europe who plays online with us as we attack our imaginary enemies - but we don't seem to be able to walk next door and invite a neighbor over for a meal. As a result we have multitudes of acquaintenences - but very few close friends. As a result, we have weak support systems. We are not a strand of three cords. Too often we are a single strand just making it in our everyday lives.
Take the time to make - and keep - close friends. You probably won't truly appreciate all that they can bring to your life until the moment when you need a neighbor close - rather than a brother far away. I do not think Solomon is being disrespectful to family. Family will always come to your aid - at least that was the way I was reared. But . . . my closest family member is 6.5 hours away. Therefore I need a neighbor who is near in times of trouble. They have been there when I needed them. And their value to me cannot be measured in dollars and cents. But it can be measured in comfort and encouragement!