Proverbs 27:5-6 – The Value of a Friend and the Scarcity of Friendships

friendship-heartThe value of trustworthy friends and the rarity of enduring friendships is the subject of five verses in chapter 27. Proverbs 27:6, 9-10, 14, 17 address what most can attest—friends with integrity are rare and friendships are fleeting! I wish those observations were not true; however, life has taught me the necessity of being a friend while accepting the reality that abiding friendships are few.  My devotional today will not address all five of the friendship proverbs in chapter 27; however, I encourage you to revisit those verses and ponder them.

It is a harsh reality that many we count as friends will prove to be flighty and betray us in our hour of need. What manner of friend does Solomon commend to his son?  What qualities should we emulate as one who would befriend others? What manner of friend are you? Are you a friend or an enemy? Solomon contrasts those two in verses 5-6:

kisses of an enemyProverbs 27:5-6“Open rebuke [correction; reproof] is better [good; favorable] than secret love [hidden, concealed affection]. 6Faithful [steadfast; trustworthy] are the wounds [bruises] of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [foe; someone who harbors anger and hatred] are deceitful [lit. abundant or multiplied].”

Notice the stated character and actions of an enemy in verse 6. This enemy appears to be a friend; he is close enough, personally and physically, to shower you with a brotherly hug, a proverbial “kiss on the cheek” and verbally express his love and affection for you. He is trusted; however, he is not your friend. He is a flatterer, a deceiver, and an enemy. His friendship is shallow and fleeting; like “secret love”, he dares not risk the disapproval and rejection of “his friend” by offering godly counsel and loving rebuke.

friends somfortingBy contrast, Biblical friendships run deep, reflecting the character and integrity of godliness.  A wise friend, one with wisdom and spiritual discernment, is a rarity and too often his love and counsel are rejected.  He is “faithful”—honest, steadfast, trustworthy; however, those are the qualities sinners and backslidden believers flee.  A loving friend will first confront the sin of a friend in private (Matthew 5:24; 18:15); however, confront he will (1 Timothy 5:20)!  Sadly, in the discharge of the duties of friendship, many reject the friend and content themselves with the deceitful kisses of those who care not for their soul or well-being.

Some reading this devotional blog have retreated from the opportunity and obligation of friendship.  Some have betrayed a friend who genuinely loved and cared for your soul (Matthew 5:23-24). Some have been deeply wounded and retreated, determined to not risk the pain or disappointment of rejection. Our challenge is not to find a friend, but to be a friend.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly…”