posted on Apr, 26 2019 @ 05:01 PM
The collector of the Old Testament Proverbs makes his purpose clear from the beginning.
“That men may know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight” (ch1 v2).
Then he further defines this wisdom as “fear of the Lord” (v7). This phrase, when used in the Bible, means respect and willingness to obey.
I’m studying the different characters of Proverbs, as one way of organising and understanding the teaching
After considering the Quarreller and the Troublemaker, it seems natural to turn to the Friend.
The character appears in Proverbs in a number of guises, few of them very helpful.
He might be a hypocrite friend.
That is, his friendly words are an outward show which conceal his innate hostility.
“He who conceals hatred has lying lips” (ch10 v18).
“Like the glaze covering an earthen vessel, are smooth lips with an evil heart.
He who hates dissembles with his lips and harbours deceit in his heart;
When he speaks graciously believe him not, for there are seven abominations in his heart” (ch26 vv23-25).
He might be a flattering friend.
His friendly words might even be sincere without being any the less misleading.
“It is not good to eat much honey, so be sparing of complimentary words” (ch25 v27).
We are told that a man who flatters his neighbour “spreads a net for his feet” (ch29 v5).
Even the best-intentioned flatterer may have much the same effect as the hypocrite;
“A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattering mouth works ruin” (ch26 v28).
This is partly because the flatterer fails to alert them to their faults;
“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue” (ch28 v23).
The “false prophets” of Israel were misleading the people by “flattering” them; they were failing to alert them to the true state of their
relation with God and the real danger of judgement.
He might be a hearty friend.
His friendship may be perfectly genuine, but a little over-boisterous, especially first thing in the morning.
“He who blesses his neighbour with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, shall be counted as cursing” (ch27 v14).
“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbour’s house, lest he become weary of you and hate you” (ch25 v17).
“He who sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off [your] garment on a cold day” (ch25 v20).
Finally, there is the inveterate prankster.
I give this one a separate category, because I’m not sure whether he counts as a hearty friend or as a hypocrite, concealing hatred.
Don’t we all know this fellow?
He holds out his hand for a shake and then withdraws it at the last minute.
He carries out all kinds of offensive and injurious actions, and defends them with “Can’t you take a joke?”
“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, is the man who deceives his neighbour and says ‘I am only in sport’” (26 vv18-19).
The judgement in the proverb seems to be hyperbole, until we remember the victim of one radio “prankster” who committed suicide.
There is a reason why the license of the April Fool joke was traditionally limited to one day. Strictly speaking, the morning of that day. Anyone who
tried it on in the afternoon or the evening was an April Fool himself.
Human relations depend on a degree of trust; without that, society cannot hold together.
If someone destroys that trust for the sake of his own self-entertainment, how much better is he than someone who destroys it for the sake of monetary
Nevertheless, we must not despair of friendship altogether.
“There are friends who pretend to be friends, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (ch18 v24).