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“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” (Proverbs 27:5–7, ESV)
Sages, or wise men, do not fear correction. Actually, a sage hopes for it. After all, how else can they improve upon their understanding? It is good to place yourself into the company of friends who will observe you and speak truth into your life, rather than leaving you to be doomed to repeating past mistakes. The openness of the correction is helpful, and unexpressed correction would not be. If anything, unexpressed correction is hateful.
Reading the first line, one might expect this kind of Hebrew parallelism:
"An open rebuke is better than discipline that is hidden."
However, the contrast here is even stronger within the Hebrew Poetry with the introduction of "love," equating correction with love. Love brings discipline, but the repression of love would serve the object of affection, the loved one, no good purpose.
The author then goes on to say that the wounds of a friend are faithful. The indication here is that tough words are hard to hear, and that these words will hurt. But the Wise Man reminds us that friends are there for our blessing and not to needlessly hurt us. Their correction should bring joy into our life.
So, everyone hears that phrase, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend!" and immediately start wounding each other in the name of love. But the very next proverb speaks to the timing of your, "faithful wounds."
"The one who is full loathes honey, but to the one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet."
The Proverbs repeatedly use the imagery of honey to talk about sweet speech, and so the Sage here is telling us that a "full" man won't even take honey from your hand. This means that if you encounter a friend who is satisfied in his own direction and course of action then there is little that you can do to assist that person. You cannot offer faithful words of correction, no matter how sweet, persuasive or charming you may phrase your helpful advice, if he is fully satisfied in himself. Thus, this Proverb says that they trample it, i.e. they reject it out of hand.
On the other hand, anything tastes good to someone who is hungry. Something naturally sweet like honey is spurned by someone with a full stomach; yet even something sour, such as hurtful correction, tastes sweet to someone whose stomach is empty.
The message given by the Sage is that it is important to know and appreciate the circumstances of the situation, before you speak. The more bitter the loving correction, the emptier the person needs to be in order to recieve it.
Truth for today: Emptiness best recieves tough, loving correction. Sometimes, as difficult as it is to watch, a person must be broken by their own stubborness before you will be able to speak love into their life. With this wisdom in hand, shepherd that which God has entrusted to you for His glory.