Solomon pens the following:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend … Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. (Prov. 27:6, 14)
Solomon learns this principle from his God-given wisdom. As the wisest relational scientist on the planet, he looks about and notices how foolish is the child without a father, a ruler without counselors, a worshiper without the Scripture, a church member without an elder, and a man or woman without true friends.
Solomon also learns this principle from his God-given father. Growing up he hears tales of Jonathan and David’s mighty men. Additionally, he is instructed by the prayers of his father:
Let a righteous man strike me; it is a kindness. Let him rebuke me; it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it … (Psalm 141:5)
Ultimately, both wise kings, inspired by the Holy Spirit, find it important to convey the principle of painful friendship. The true friend of a wise man often brings him pain and discomfort. He does so not to harm but to improve, and in the end he accomplishes his aim. A true friend loves at all time, and in his love he often hurts his close companion.
Therefore, do you have such friends? Do you take advantage of fathers and grandfathers? Do you take advantage of men with white hair or bald heads? Do you submit yourself to the guidance, oversight and review of peers and consultants? Are you obedient to the Word of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Will you take counsel from your spouse? Do you find it a blessing to have elders who are willing to pain you for God’s glory and your ultimate improvement? Are you a pastor who is too wise to be improved by fellow ministers and deacons? Or are you more inclined to surround yourself with “yes men” and “back strokers” who tell you only what you long to hear? Perhaps you ought to thank the Lord for true companions who are willing to communicate the uncomfortable in order to prove their true friendship.
Secondly, are you such a friend? Good fathers discipline their children. Good elders disciple their flock. Good husband and wives apply needed pressure to their helpmeets. Good friends – in love – wound, strike, rebuke, encourage, and improve.