Let’s read Proverbs 27:9-10, “Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. Thine own friend, and thy father’s friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far off.”  Verse 9 tells us of two different things that bring joy to the heart.  First, let’s consider the application of ointment and perfume.  It was an eastern custom at the time of the writing of this proverb that when a man’s guests were about to leave his home, he would sprinkle the head of the guest with refreshing, perfumed ointments.  This was very delightful to the guest.  It pleased the senses, and delighted his heart.  Just as joyous is the ‘sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty council.’

For a little clearer perspective on verse 9, let’s read it again; this time from the Amplified Bible.  “Oil and perfume make the heart glad; So does the sweetness of a friend’s counsel that comes from the heart.”  The meaning here is that as ointment and perfume delight the heart, so do the sweet and loving words of a friend who speaks from the depths of his soul. The idea is primarily of a friend who gives wise counsel, speaking the truth in love, as we are instructed to do in Ephesians 4:15, “But speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, even Christ.”  We read earlier in the chapter, in verse 6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend…”  Faithful and true council or advice from a friend may not always cause us to jump for joy, but when we realize that it comes from the heart and is spoken in love, it certainly endears us to the one who counsels us.

Next, in verse 10, we are taught to value our faithful, true, and proven friends, especially generational and family friends.  The world has an old saying that says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.”  This means that the more you know someone, the more you start to find faults and dislike things about them.  My dear friends, may we not be like that.  The more we know someone, the more faults we will see.  However, if we view our friends through the love of Christ, the more we know about them, the more we will love and value them, in spite of their faults.  As we see more faults in our friends, they surely see more faults in us.  Philippians 4:8 tells us, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  We need to learn to appreciate the positive things about our friends and not dwell on the negatives.

In times of adversity and trouble, we often find that our good friends are closer and more faithful to us than even our own family.  Often, instead of going to a brother, sister, cousin, etc. in times of trouble, we might find that true help comes from someone who is not even related to us.  We see that a neighbor, or friend, that is near to us in heart is better than a brother whose heart is far from us.  To have just a few faithful, caring friends is far better than having many friends who have no care or loyalty to us.  Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many friends will come to ruin but there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”  As valuable as friendships are, there is one friend who will truly stick closer than any brother could.  Of course, that friend is the Lord Jesus Christ.  As we consider the wise council of the scriptures concerning friendships, may we be sure that we do not forsake that friend who never leave or forsake us; that friend who is touched by the feelings of our infirmities; that friend who loved us and gave Himself for us.  Do you know Him?  Is He your friend?  Is He your savior?  (204.6)