Proverbs 27:5
Open rebuke is better than secret love.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Secret love—i.e., that never discloses itself in acts of kindness, not even in “open rebuke” when such is needed.

Proverbs 27:5-6. Open rebuke is better than secret love — “He that takes an ingenuous liberty to tell others of their faults, and rebukes them freely, when need requires, to their face, is a better friend, a more valuable, though, perhaps, he may please less, than he who hath more of the passion of love in his heart, but makes it not known by such good effects. The parable, says Lord Bacon, reprehends the soft nature of such friends as will not use the privilege which friendship gives them, in admonishing their friends with freedom and confidence, as well of their errors as of their danger.” See Dodd. Faithful are the wounds — The sharpest reproofs; of a friend — They proceed from an upright, loving, and faithful heart, and really promote the good of the person reproved; but the kisses — All the fair speeches and outward professions of friendship; of an enemy are deceitful — Hebrew, נעתרות, are to be deprecated, are perfidious and pernicious, and therefore are such things as one may properly pray to God to be delivered from.

27:1 We know not what a day may bring forth. This does not forbid preparing for to-morrow, but presuming upon to-morrow. We must not put off the great work of conversion, that one thing needful. 2. There may be occasion for us to justify ourselves, but not to praise ourselves. 3,4. Those who have no command of their passions, sink under the load. 5,6. Plain and faithful rebukes are better, not only than secret hatred, but than love which compliments in sin, to the hurt of the soul. 7. The poor have a better relish of their enjoyments, and are often more thankful for them, than the rich. In like manner the proud and self-sufficient disdain the gospel; but those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, find comfort from the meanest book or sermon that testifies of Christ Jesus. 8. Every man has his proper place in society, where he may be safe and comfortable.Secret love - Better, love that is hidden; i. e., love which never shows itself in this one way of rebuking faults. Rebuke, whether from friend or foe, is better than such love. 5, 6. secret love—not manifested in acts is useless; and even, if its exhibition by rebukes wounds us, such love is preferable to the frequent (compare Margin), and hence deceitful, kisses of an enemy. Open rebuke, Heb. which is manifested or discovered, either,

1. Publicly and before others, when it is needful; in which case, though it put a man to some shame, yet it doth him good. Or,

2. Privately, and to the offender’s time, a plain and downright reproof.

Better; more desirable and beneficial.

Secret love; which lies hid in the heart, and doth not show itself by friendly actions, and particularly by free and faithful reproof, which is a principal end and benefit of friendship.

Open rebuke is better than secret love. This is to be understood, not of rebuke publicly given; though Aben Ezra thinks public reproof is meant, which, arising from love, is better than that which is done in secret, though in love, as being more effectual; for rebuke among friends should be given privately, according to our Lord's direction, Matthew 18:15; but it signifies reproof given faithfully and plainly, with openness of heart, and without mincing the matter, and palliating the offence; but speaking out freely, and faithfully laying before a person the evil of his sin, in all the circumstances of it, as the Apostle Paul did to Peter, when he withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed, Galatians 2:11. Now such kind of reproof is better than such love to a person as will not suffer him to tell him of his faults, for fear of grieving him, or losing his friendship; or than such love as does not show itself in deeds, and particularly in faithful reproofs; for so to act is to hate a person, and suffer sin to be upon him, Leviticus 19:17. Open rebuke is better than secret love.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. secret] Better, with R.V., that is hidden; i.e. that does not manifest itself in rebuke, when it is needed.

Maurer quotes aptly from Seneca, Ep. 25, and Plautus Trinum. Acts 1. Sc. ii., 57; and also from Cicero, Lœl. 25:—“Ut igitur et monere et moneri proprium est veræ amicitiæ, et alteram libere facere, non aspere, alterum patienter accipere, non repugnanter; sic habendum est, nullam in amicitiis pestem esse majorem, quam adulationem, blanditiam, assentationem.”

Verse 5. - Open rebuke is better than secret love. Love that is hidden and never discloses itself in acts of self-denial or generosity, especially that which from fear of offending does not rebuke a friend, nor speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), when there is good reason for such openness - such disguised love is worse, more objectionable, less beneficial, than the plain speaking which bravely censures a fault, and dares to correct what is wrong by well-timed blame. To hold back blame, it has been said, is to hold back love. "I love not my friend," wrote Seneca ('Ep.,' 25), "if I do not offend him." Plautus, 'Trinum.,' 1:2, 57 -

"Sed tu ex amicis certis mi es certissimus.

Si quid scis me fecisse inscite aut improbe,
Si id non me accusas, tu ipse objurgandus."
Publ. Syr., 'Sent.,' 16, "Amici vitia si feras, facis tua," which Erasmus expounds by adding, "If you take no notice of your friend's faults, they will be imputed to you." Cicero ('De Amicit.,' 24, 25) has some sensible remarks on this subject: "When a man's ears are shut against the truth, so that he cannot hear the truth from a friend, the welfare of such a one is hopeless. Shrewd is the observation of Cato, that some are better served by bitter enemies than by friends who seem to be agreeable; for the former often speak the truth, the latter never.... As therefore both to give and receive advice is the characteristic of true friendship, and that the one should act with freedom, but not harshly, and that the other should accept remonstrance patiently and without resistance, so it should be considered that there is no deadlier bane to friendship than adulation, fawning, and flattery." Proverbs 27:5The third pair of proverbs passes over from this special love between husband and wife to that subsisting between friends:

5 Better is open accusation

   Than secret love.

An integral distich; meeאהבה has Munach, and instead of the second Metheg Tarcha, after Thorath Emeth, p. 11. Zckler, with Hitzig, incorrectly: better than love which, from false indulgence, keeps concealed from his neighbour his faults, when he ought to tell him of them. That would require the phrase אהבה מסתּרת, not מסתּרת. Dchsel, in order to accommodate the text to this meaning, remarks: concealed censure is concealed love; but it is much rather the neglected duty of love - love without mutual discipline is weak, faint-hearted, and, if it is not too blind to remark in a friend what is worthy of blame, is altogether too forbearing, and essentially without conscience; but it is not "hidden and concealed love." The meaning of the proverb is different: it is better to be courageously and sternly corrected - on account of some fault committed - by any one, whether he be a foe or a friend, than to be the object of a love which may exist indeed in the heart, but which fails to make itself manifest in outward act. There are men who continually assure us of the reality and depth of their friendship; but when it is necessary for them to prove their love to be self-denying and generous, they are like a torrent which is dry when one expects to drink water from it (Job 6:15). Such "secret" love, or, since the word is not נסתּרת, but מסתּרת, love confined to the heart alone, is like a fire which, when it burns secretly, neither lightens nor warms; and before such a friend, any one who frankly and freely tells the truth has by far the preference, for although he may pain us, yet he does us good; while the former deceives us, for he leaves us in the lurch when it is necessary to love us, not merely in word and with the tongue, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3:18). Rightly Fleischer: Praestat correptio aperta amicitiae tectae, i.e., nulla re probatae.

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