Proverbs 27:5

Open rebuke is better than secret love.

– Proverbs 27:5

Verses 5-6 address an issue of true friendship—open and direct communication. The word for rebuke means reproof, or correction. Rebuke sounds harsh and hateful to our ears today, but receiving it is crucial to acquiring wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-23). Refusing reproof is to embrace death and destruction (Proverbs 1:24-33). The way we respond to rebuke reveals whether we are foolish or wise (Proverbs 9:8; 23:9).

This saying speaks to the value of a friend who will speak up when it is needed. The word for open means to uncover and here refers to one not hiding a needed reproof. It contrasts with secret, which means to cover, or conceal. This is a “better than” saying where the sting of open rebuke is to be preferred to the hidden correction left unspoken, allowing us to go on in folly. A love that doesn’t manifest itself is worthless (Proverbs 3:12; 13:24; 23:13; 1 John 3:18).




Proverbs 25:21

If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
– Proverbs 25:21

Verses 21-22 teach a compassionate response and treatment of our enemies. Giving food and water to an enemy is a counterintuitive act of kindness. Though not humanly natural, it does rise from two principles of biblical teaching: 1) the command to show compassion to strangers (Exodus 23:4-5; Leviticus 19:9-18; Deuteronomy 24:14-22; Proverbs 3:27; 10:12; 17:9; 19:11), and, 2) the prohibition against taking personal vengeance (Proverbs 17:13; 20:22; 24:17-18). It may seem a stretch to go from loving neighbor to loving enemies, but Jesus taught the law of loving neighbors extended to even enemies in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:43-48).

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Proverbs 17:9

He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
– Proverbs 17:9

This proverb speaks of the goal or consequence of covering versus repeating. Covering a wrong is not speaking of covering up sin in order to get away with it, but rather the covering of a past wrong in the sense of overlooking it if possible or forgiving it (Proverbs 10:12; 19:11). The goal of doing so is to promote love, reconciliation, and peace. The word for repeateth means to duplicate and some commentators express it as harping. The word for very friends means an intimate friend. Harping on old beefs can spoil relationships of all kinds (Proverbs 16:28).

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Proverbs 15:17

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.
– Proverbs 15:17

This proverb also deals with wealth, though indirectly. Wealth is not the focus, rather the contrast of love and hatred. To have love is to have good relationships with family and even friends. It is to have a home of peace and contentment. The dinner of herbs is a modest meal as opposed to the stalled ox, which is an indication of means. Love is absent where hatred is present and it brings strife and contention to a house. Obviously, the first condition is better than the second with a house of strife, anger, and contentions (Proverbs 17:1; 21:19).

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Proverbs 10:12

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
– Proverbs 10:12

The word for stirreth up means literally to awaken as out of sleep. Strifes are contentions, quarrels, or discords of all kinds. The stirring and spreading of contentions comes from hatred. Other proverbs expose the stirring of strife as coming from wrath, ungodliness, pride, and anger (Proverbs 15:18; 16:27; 28:25; 29:22). A hateful heart captures all those ideas.

The contrast comes in the form of action motivated by love. The word for covereth means to conceal or hide. It can be used to speak of covering the body with clothing. Covering obviously doesn’t mean sweeping sin under the rug and acting as though it doesn’t exist (Proverbs 28:13). We understand what is meant by observing the parallelism in the proverb. It is opposite of stirring up contentions and strife. It is the wisdom that defers anger and passes over transgressions (Proverbs 19:11). Often, there isn’t a problem between people until we make one and that is what hatred does. Love covers shame, appeases strife, and ceases from it (Proverbs 12:16; 15:18; 20:3).

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Proverbs 7:4

Say unto wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thy kinswoman:
– Proverbs 7:4

In chapter 5 Solomon set the blessings of faithful marriage over against the consequences of adultery. Here he refers to familial love and natural affections. The point enforced is to not only hear and keep wisdom but to love wisdom as one does his near kin. The young man has a special relation to his sister or other close female relation. He treats her with a certain tenderness and attentiveness to help and to protect. The young man must develop just such a love for wisdom to keep from errant paths. Charles Bridges captured the thought in his classic commentary on Proverbs:

Man must have his object of delight. If wisdom is not loved, lust will be indulged. The Bible therefore—not merely read, but the cherished object of familiar intercourse—proves a sacred exorcist to expel the power of evil.

The point is that we do not need or want a heart that is cleaned, swept, garnished, and empty (Matthew 12:43-45). We must fill our hearts and minds with good things (Philippians 4:8).

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Proverbs 5:19

Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love.
– Proverbs 5:19

This verse is both poetic and plain. It has the plainest statement in this section and informs the context that the intimate, physical relationship between husband and wife is emphasized throughout. A perusal of commentaries yields a number of fanciful interpretations that are purely allegorical. This is unnecessary and obscures the plain, literal, contextual sense of the passage.

The first phrase compares the wife to two animals that were symbolic of grace and beauty. The loving hind is an affectionate doe, or female deer. The pleasant roe is a graceful female mountain goat. Both creatures are surefooted and even on steep and difficult terrain they bound about gracefully. They were considered beautiful of form and symbolized the beauty of a woman. Solomon instructs his son to be smitten with the beauty of his own wife.

Breasts, or bosom, has obvious, plain meaning but also is spoken of in terms of the closeness of husband and wife (Song of Solomon 1:13). The word for satisfy means to drink one’s fill, to be saturated. At all times means the satisfaction is to be both continual and frequent. Solomon once again highlights the blessing and delight of faithful marriage, of which adultery is both a corruption and a poor substitute.

Ravished means to reel or stagger as in from the effects of intoxicating drinks. A husband is affected in every aspect by his wife’s love. The wife’s love encompasses all aspects of affection and action. Loving and being loved deeply is a blessing of faithful marriage and is unique to that union.

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