Not commenting on the morality of the situation, this verse simply notes that “the poor are shunned.” It’s just a true statement about what people do. But it is worse when it’s done by “their neighbors.”
“Neighbor” comes from the word for “pasture,” suggesting the picture of a flock of sheep all grazing in the same field. They’re neighbors in the field – but the verse indicates all the other sheep don’t like certain ones.
For decades I’ve done archaeological excavations near flocks of sheep in the Holy Land and this is not how sheep act. But people do!
The verse also says “the rich have many friends.” The “friends” here is based in the word “love.” The rich have many people who “love” them.
Of course, the big question is whether they love us or our riches! I am not so sure these are the kind of friends most of us want anyway.
It’s a truism among the guys here at Helping Up Mission that, as long as we had a pocketful of money we had plenty of friends (an entourage or posse of hangers-on). But as soon as the money was gone, so were they.
This verse doesn’t suggest this is okay behavior, just that it is human nature. The wisdom I should get from it all is to understand how people are and know what to expect from them.
If I am poor, I just need to realize that many (but not all!) will not be there when I need them. But I should also understand that, if I happen to be rich and in trouble, there’s a good change they won’t be there for me, either!