Proverbs 27:  Friends vs. Strangers

As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17


27 1  Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.

2  Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips.

3  A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, But a fool’s wrath is heavier than both of them. 4  Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy?

5  Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. 6  Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

27:6 Correction given in love by a friend is better than insincere acts of affection.

7  A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

8  Like a bird that wanders from its nest Is a man who wanders from his place.

9  Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. 10  Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, Nor go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.

11  My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, That I may answer him who reproaches me.

27:11 As the worth of a teacher is determined by the accomplishments of the students, so the real value of a godly person’s character can often be estimated by qualities exhibited by his or her children.

12  A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself; The simple pass on and are punished.

13  Take the garment of him who is surety for a stranger, And hold it in pledge when he is surety for a seductress.

27:13 Normally a garment given in pledge was only a symbolic collateral and was returned immediately, but not if the one making the pledge was unreliable or a stranger.

14  He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, It will be counted a curse to him.

27:14 He that bless his friend with a loud voicerising early in the morning, it shall be counted a curse to him. The curse of ostentatious flattery. Flattery is a species of conduct generally most pleasing, always most pernicious. The flattery in the text is a loud vaunting. It intrudes itself on all occasions; it is busy and demonstrative.

15  A continual dripping on a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike; 16  Whoever restrains her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand.

17  As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

27:17 iron sharpens iron:  A famous proverb, this verse may also be translated as applying to the will:  “Let iron sharpen iron, and so let a person sharpen his friend.”  The idea is that people grow from interaction with one another.

18  Whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; So he who waits on his master will be honored.

27:18 keeps the fig tree:  This proverb speaks of faithfulness and reward.  The word master may refer to God.

19  As in water face reflects face, So a man’s heart reveals the man.

27:19 a man’s heart:  Thoughts reflect a person’s true character.

20  Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

27:20 Hell and Destruction are used often in the Bible to describe the fearful aspect of death.  They are like ravenous monsters.  Compare this proverb with the image of Satan as a roaring lion (see 1 Pet. 5:8).

21  The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, And a man is valued by what others say of him.

22  Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, Yet his foolishness will not depart from him.

23  Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds; 24  For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations. 25  When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, And the herbs of the mountains are gathered in, 26  The lambs will provide your clothing, And the goats the price of a field; 27  You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, For the food of your household, And the nourishment of your maidservants.

27:23-27 These verses affirm diligence and describe its practical rewards.  The model is that of the farmer who cares for his flocks and herds; if he diligently cares for them, in time they will care for him.

** It’s foolish to flatter or praise someone we don’t know well.  Search for godly friends who can correct me when I do wrong.  Like my God, such a person cares about me and will be a refuge in time of need.  It’s foolish to trust or try to please strangers.  Get a pledge and accept cash only from strangers.  Making a clear distinction between friends and strangers is wisdom.  Flattery from a stranger is also a danger that we should run from rather than soaking it in.



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