God’s Word for You
Proverbs 27:5-6 A rebuke revealed
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Sunday, April 26, 2020
5 A rebuke revealed is better than love concealed.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted,
but an enemy multiplies kisses.
The verb gala is to uncover or reveal something, like tearing the wrapping from a gift or discovering the murderer in a mystery. In this case, it refers to a rebuke or criticism that has been building up for a long time. If this is the case, it’s better to get it out in the open. If this happens, then the rebuke is probably about a sin that needs to be addressed, or a matter of irritation that should be lovingly corrected for the sake of brotherhood and affection.
To conceal (sathar) is what a fearful person does with their love. It is not the love that keeps itself hidden. This would be nisthar, like the wise ones in verse 12 later in this chapter. Here, it is the shy or nervous friend who keeps their love quiet, which does not help the one who is loved. A friend will speak up to help correct what is wrong.
These things connect perfectly with verse 6, where anything said or done by a friend in love is welcome, even though there can be a moment of embarrassment, shame, or even grief. But beware the smooth talk of the enemy! He will try many approaches to smooth over differences, but every time the enemy tries to tear down fences, it will be someone else’s fences that get torn down, not the enemy’s. This is always what we see when the world tells the Christian that we should get along with one another, and that things would be better if the Christian stopped trying to evangelize and change hearts. But what really happens is that the unbeliever is the one who wants to change the Christian’s heart: “I don’t believe what you say,” he means, “and therefore you must believe what I say.” This is the devil hissing through the teeth of men, and we need to be on our guard against it.
Luther summarizes all this in far fewer words: “Solomon said, ‘Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.’ When an enemy speaks kindly to you, this is not affection, but rather the devil, who is out to destroy you in your sins. Ah, he says, you’re doing fine; go ahead! But a friend will be willing to hurt you. This is a rod, but it comes from the heart of a friend” (LW 51:298).
Pastor Timothy Smith