IRON SHARPENS IRON!
Lord, give me faithful, genuine friends.
Read PROVERBS 27:1–17
27 Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring.
2 Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips.
3 Stone is heavy and sand a burden,
but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.
4 Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
5 Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
7 One who is full loathes honey from the comb,
but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
8 Like a bird that flees its nest
is anyone who flees from home.
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.
12 The prudent see danger and take refuge,
but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.
13 Take the garment of one who puts up security for a stranger;
hold it in pledge if it is done for an outsider.
14 If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.
15 A quarrelsome wife is like the dripping
of a leaky roof in a rainstorm;
16 restraining her is like restraining the wind
or grasping oil with the hand.
17 As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“We love him now because we see his loveliness. We adore him now because we see his majesty. We obey him now because his Holy Spirit dwells within us.” (R.C. Sproul, The Holiness of God, Tyndale House, 1985, p. 234)
Friendship is one of the themes emphasized in this section. Verses 1 and 2 concern praising and boasting. The Hebrew verb hallēl is a standout word, meaning either
‘boast’ (1) or ‘praise’ (2). The sages warn against boasting about future accomplishments be-cause no one knows what a new day may bring (1). The future is in God’s hands (cf., Prov 16:1, 3, 9). The assessment of one’s achievements by another person has greater value than does self-praise (2). A true friend praises the other – building up others with genuine, appreciative words.
Verses 5 and 6 advocate “tough love” in friendship, which calls for courage and honesty. Interestingly, the Hebrew words for “love” (5) and “friend” (6) share the same root (’hb) – another standout word in this passage. A true friend will not be afraid to offer or receive reproof (5a), even if it is painful and wounding (6a). These wounds are faithful and yet profitable (6a). To remain silent is to hide true love (5b). An enemy multiplies kisses; holding back from needed correction is instead a sign of deception and betrayal (6b). To offer or receive rebuke demonstrates how friends sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron (17).
Friendship sometimes brings praise, sometimes wounds. Are we too reserved to give praise to friends in need of our encouragement? May the Spirit prompt us to give sincere appreciation when due. Likewise, are we afraid of offering reproof to friends in need of loving correction? May the Spirit grant us courage and wisdom in doing so.
“Friendship is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive…Friendship makes all of life shine brightly. Blessed are those who lay down their lives for their friends.” (Henri Nouwen, “The Gift of Friendship,” Daily Meditation)
We know, oh God, that peaceful, smooth relationships rank high on Your list of priorities. Cause us to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
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