“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:6).
A saying goes that our best friend is the one who will tell us the truth, even if it hurts. This verse illustrates that principle as the preacher employs contrast and even irony to paint the verbal picture he wants to paint.
Disguised love or deceit is really at the center of this proverb. Solomon uses the words “faithful” and “wounds” in juxtaposition to one another as well as the word “kisses,” “enemy,” and “deceitful.”
One does not expect wounds to be a positive act coming from a friend nor does he expect those wounds to be described as faithful, that is, until we realize the word means “directed by truth and discriminating affection.” Likewise, one does not expect kisses to come from an enemy, even though if they do, he knows they are a deceitful act.
The message is that it is more blessed to have a friend who will always tell us the painful truth about everything than it is to have a deceitful phony “friend” who will lavish glowing praise upon us in our presence, even though we know he will have quite different words in our absence.
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
Cease to do evil,
Learn to do good;
Rebuke the oppressor;
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:16-17).
Even in the days of old, when Isaiah wrote these profound words, the idea of true repentance was put before the people. The prophet says repentance is ceasing to evil and learning to do good—that is, it is a change of mind resulting in a change of behavior.
Some mistakenly confuse being sorry for a sin with the idea of repenting of that sin. The Apostle Paul was happy, not because the Corinthians were made sorry for their sins, but because they allowed their sorry to lead them to repentance.
Here Isaiah makes it clear that God wants “the evil of your doings” taken from before His eyes. To make that happen, we must become aware of our sins, be sorrowful for having committed them and verbalize that sorrow, make a decision to turn from them, and then actually turn away from them and do our best not commit them again. This is the process of repenting.
“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
Jesus’ purpose in this discussion with a group of Jews seems to be primarily that all are equal in the eyes of God and that the degree of sin does not affect the need for repentance. All sinners need to repent, and all sins require repentance on the part of the sinner.
If the Jews have an ulterior motive in bringing up the time when Pilate mingled Galilean blood with Jewish sacrifices, they fail miserably. Not only does Jesus defuse that situation, but He brings up another occasion on which eighteen were crushed when the tower in Siloam fell.
These situations did not occur because the people were excessive sinners—they were just occurrences and were not caused because the people were worse sinners than others.
To have a right relationship with God, all disciples must be willing to repent—that is, to forsake their sins and turn to God. Repentance, then, is a change of mind, resulting in a change of behavior.
Second of a two-part study of Ecclesiastes 9:4-5
“For the living know that they will die;
But the dead know nothing,
And they have no more reward,
For the memory of them is forgotten” (Ecclesiastes 9:5).
Continuing his philosophical statement about life “under the sun,” Solomon states the obvious in this passage. All hope is not lost as long as a person is alive—he or she knows there are opportunities remaining—at least, the opportunity of making changes before death.
The dead do not have that advantage. All hope for experiencing life—all hope for improvement—all hope for enjoying the benefits and rewards of living a good life every day—all hope for changing our eternal destination—all of these are gone.
In death, not only have the opportunities of life vanished, but even the memory of us fades quickly—we disappear as a vapor that appears for a time and then vanishes away, as the preacher says.
What is Solomon’s point? As he amplifies later in this chapter, he advises taking full advantage of the life God has given, finding joy, working diligently, exercising wisdom, and living righteously.