Vs 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Vs 9 … and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Vs 17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Vs 21 The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.
Solomon here is analyzing different communications within relationships.
He’s looking for the root of the communication and the fruit of the communication.
Is the communication coming from a friend or coming from an enemy?
Does the communication result in the strengthening of the hearer or the weakening of the hearer?
Is what’s being said honest?
Is what’s being said shallow or flimsy flattery?
Is what needs to be said being said … even if it’s hard to say?
I’m seeing a few things I need to distinguish from listening to Solomon here.
Honesty vs. Flattery (i.e. “earnest” vs. “kisses”)
Building Up vs. Setting Up (i.e. “sharpened” vs “tested”)
And Quality vs. Quantity (i.e. “faithful” vs “profuse”)
Then, I need to see which of these things am I personally prone to?
Am I prone to say the hard, but honest, thing or the easy, but flattering, thing?
Am I prone to build someone up or to set someone up?
Do I want to help someone with what I have to say? Or do I just want people to hear what I have to say?
If I’m honest with myself … I never prefer to say the hard, honest thing to others.
I’m always inclined to flatter people.
But why? Well, I think the hard, honest reason is … I want to be liked.
Yes, I want to be liked, even though we see so many warnings over and over again about “pleasing man”, instead of “pleasing God”. … But I want to be liked.
The irony is, Solomon tells me I’m acting more like an enemy than a friend when I act like this.
Of course, when it comes to flattery … there’s false flattery, “kisses from an enemy”, and there is true flattery, “praise” for a man.
Both are dangerous.
The false flattery is just a lie setting you up for failure.
The true flattery risks creating an inflated sense of one’s self, a “false self” in one’s own mind.
This, too, then is a set up for failure.
That’s why there is “testing” in this.
The flattery creates “impurities” that won’t survive the fires of life.
I also need to consider myself as the hearer rather than the speaker.
As much as I need to be more willing to speak a hard truth, I need to be willing to hear it from others.
I actually need to consider it “sweet”, and from an “earnest friend”.
Hearing hard truths will make me better, build me up, even “sharpen” me.
So, if the speaker becomes a better person through understanding this,
And the hearer becomes a better person through understanding this.
It really makes so much sense that this sort of dialogue truly is an “iron sharpening iron” relationship!
Thank you, God, for your Word.
Help it sink deep. Help it change me where I need changing.
Help it sharpen me.
Help the words of others sharpen me where I need it.
Give me the courage to speak the hard truth when it is from You.
In Jesus name,