Monday 26 September 2022

Bible Book:

Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Well meant are the wounds a friend inflicts, but profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (vs 5-6)

Proverbs 27:1-6 Monday 26 September 2022

Psalm 67


The section of Proverbs from chapter 25 to chapter 29 is introduced in 25:1 as proverbs of Solomon that the scribes of King Hezekiah collected. Each verse is a separate saying and they are often not connected to what comes before or afterwards. That said, the sayings in the first 22 verses of this chapter all loosely have the theme of friends and neighbours. Moreover in a sense each pair of verses form a couplet.

Going through today's passage:

“Tomorrow” in verse 1 should be taken as a way of referring to the immediate future, and in context concerns impending expectation of success in a venture being undertaken. We should not self-congratulate in advance because we 'do not know what a day may bring'. However we should note that Proverbs frequently commends planning for the future (11:14, 15:22, 20:18, 21:5, 24:6, 27), albeit frequently stressing the importance of wise advice or collective planning in the process.

Verses 3-4 focus on the kind of relationships we should seek to avoid: those with people inclined to foolishness, anger or jealousy. The imagery of verse 3 suggests that physical burdens are easier to carry than the emotional burden of a fool. That word in Proverbs epitomises the opposite of the wisdom that the teaching seeks to instil in its readers. Primarily it is likely here to mean a person sure of the infallibility of their own opinion and not open to reason. Verse 4 suggests anger is hard to face but jealousy impossible: an example would be David who stood his ground before Eliab’s outburst (1 Samuel 17:28) but fled from Saul’s jealousy (1 Samuel 18:9).

Verse 5 makes a claim that may sound surprising but rings true on reflection. Hidden love, which refuses to risk a relationship in the cause of what is right, is ultimately selfish and has a negative effect on the relationship. Verse 6 is equally stark with its twin oxymorons: “friendly wounds” and “wounding kisses”. Wounds that are normally inflicted by an enemy demonstrate devotion when inflicted on an erring friend; kisses when given by an enemy are hypocritical and express infidelity towards the one kissed. Matthew 26:49-50 is a familiar example of the latter.


To Ponder:

  • From where do we hope to receive praise? How does real life relate to this? Can you recall an occasion when you received praise from a stranger?
  • Based on your own experience, would you agree with the thrust of verses 3-4 that people with irrational emotional responses are not good choices to make friends with?
  • Do you agree that jealousy is harder to withstand than anger?
  • Can you recall needing to rebuke, or to be rebuked by a friend when some wrong had taken place? Would you agree with verse 5’s statement about the benefits of this?
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