I have been thinking about Proverbs 27:5-6 quite a bit for the last couple of years. The verses read, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” They certainly aren’t verses you commonly hear Christians or even pastors quote. I think most Christians would be very pleased to just ignore them as they run counter to the conventional thinking about godly speech. However, these verses contain truths that are essential if a local church’s members are to grow into the image of God’s Son and experience robust gospel community. Since I cannot improve on Matthew Henry’s exposition of these gems, I’ll simply quote him:
“It is good for us to be reproved, and told of our faults, by our friends. If true love in the heart has but zeal and courage enough to show itself in dealing plainly with our friends, and reproving them for what they say and do amiss, this is really better, not only than secret hatred (as Lev. 19:17), but than secret love, that love to our neighbors which does not show itself in this good fruit, which compliments them in their sins, to the prejudice of their souls. Faithful are the reproofs of a friend, though for the present they are painful as wounds. It is a sign that our friends are faithful indeed if, in love to our souls, they will not suffer sin upon us, nor let us alone in it. The physician’s care is to cure the patient’s disease, not to please his palate. It is dangerous to be caressed and flattered by an enemy, whose kisses are deceitful We can take no pleasure in them because we can put no confidence in them (Joab’s kiss and Judas’s were deceitful), and therefore we have need to stand upon our guard, that we be not deluded by them; they are to be deprecated. Some read it: The Lord deliver us from an enemy’s kisses, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.”
We must soak ourselves in these important words lest we mistake our friends for enemies and our enemies for friends!