Proverbs 27:9
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
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(9) Ointment and perfume.—Comp. Proverbs 7:17 and note on Proverbs 21:17.

Proverbs 27:9. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, &c. — “As balsam and fragrant perfumes marvellously refresh and comfort the natural spirits, when they droop and are tired; so doth the very presence of a true-hearted friend, and much more his faithful counsel, rejoice a man’s soul; especially when he is at such a loss, that he knows not how to advise himself.” — Bishop Patrick.

27:9,10. Depend not for relief upon a kinsman, merely for kindred's sake; apply to those who are at hand, and will help in need. But there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother, and let us place entire confidence in him. 11. An affectionate parent urges his son to prudent conduct that should gladden his heart. The good conduct of Christians is the best answer to all who find fault with the gospel. 12. Where there is temptation, if we thrust ourselves into it, there will be sin, and punishment will follow. 13. An honest man may be made a beggar, but he is not honest that makes himself one. 14. It is folly to be fond of being praised; it is a temptation to pride.Change of place is thought of as in itself an evil. It is not easy for the man to find another home or the bird another nest. The maxim is characteristic of the earlier stages of Hebrew history, before exile and travel had made change of country a more familiar thing. Compare the feeling which made the thought of being "a fugitive and a vagabond" Genesis 4:12-13 the most terrible of all punishments. 9. rejoice the heart—the organ of perceiving what pleases the senses.

sweetness … counsel—or, "wise counsel is also pleasing."

Rejoice the heart, by increasing and comforting the spirits. No less grateful and pleasant is the company and conversation of a true friend, in respect of his good and faithful counsel, which comes from his very heart and soul, and contains his most inward and serious thoughts, whereas deceitful persons give such counsels, not as they think to be best, but as most serve their lusts or designs.

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart,.... Meaning not the holy anointing oil for sacred use, or the perfume or incense offered on the altar of incense; but common oil or ointment used at entertainments, poured on the heads of the guests; and incense in censing of rooms, which were very delightful, pleased the senses, and so exhilarated the heart;

so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel; so the sweet and pleasant words, the wise and cordial counsel of a man's friend, rejoice his heart; he takes it well, he is highly delighted with it; he receives it kindly, and pursues it to advantage: or "by counsel of soul" (c), such as relates to the welfare of the soul here and hereafter; such is the counsel Christ gives, to buy of him gold tried in the fire, white raiment eye salve; and such as the Scriptures give, which, with the saints, are the men of their counsel, as they were David's; and which ministers of the Gospel give, who are therefore like ointment and perfume, "a sweet savour of life unto life": some render the words, and they will bear it, "so the sweetness of a man's friend, more than the counsel of his soul" (d) or than his own; that is, the sweet counsel of a friend is better than his own, and more rejoices his heart, and gives him more pleasure than that does; and this way go the Jewish commentators.

(c) "a consilio animae", Montanus; "propter consilium animae", Pagninus, Gejerus, Michaelis. (d) "Magis quam consilium animae, sub. propriae", Vatablus, Baynus; "quam consilium proprium", Junius & Tremellius, Mercerus, Amama.

Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.
9. by] Lit. from i.e. proceeding from, or (as R.V.), that cometh of.

Verse 9. - Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart. (For the use of unguents in the honourable treatment of guests, see Proverbs 7:16, etc.; Proverbs 21:17.) Similarly, perfumes prepared from spices, roses, and aromatic plants were employed; rooms were fumigated, persons were sprinkled with rose water, and incense was applied to the face and beard, as we read (Daniel 2:46) that Nebuchadnezzar ordered that to Daniel, in recognition of his wisdom, should be offered an oblation and sweet odours (see 'Dick of Bible,' and Kitto, 'Cyclop.,' voc. "Perfumes"). The heat of the climate, the insalubrious character of the houses, the profuse perspiration of the assembled guests, rendered this attention peculiarly acceptable (comp. Song of Solomon 3:6). The LXX., probably with a tacit reference to Psalm 104:15, renders, "The heart delighteth in ointments, and wines, and perfumes." So doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel. This is rather clumsy; the Revised Version improves it by paraphrasing, that cometh from hearty counsel. The meaning is that as ointment, etc., gladden the heart, so do the sweet and loving words of one who speaks from the depths of his soul. The idea is primarily of a friend who gives wise counsel, speaking the truth in love, or shows his approval by discreet commendation. The LXX. has pointed differently, and translates, "But the soul is broken by calamities (καταῥῤήγνυται ὑπὸ (συμπτωμάτων);" Vulgate, "The soul is sweetened by the good counsels of a friend." Proverbs 27:9The two following proverbs have in common the catchword רע, and treat of the value of friendship: -

9 Oil and frankincense rejoice the heart;

   And the sweet discourse of a friend from a counselling of soul.

Regarding the perfuming with dry aromas, and sprinkling with liquid aromas, as a mark of honour towards guests, and as a means of promoting joyful social fellowship, vid., at Proverbs 7:16., Proverbs 21:17. The pred. ישׂמּח comprehends frankincense or oil as the two sides of one and the same thing; the lxx introduces, from Psalm 104:15, also wine. It also reads ומתק רעה as one word, וּמתקרעת: καταῤῥήγνυται δὲ ὑπὸ συμπτωμάτων ψυχή, which Hitzig regards as original; for he translates, understanding מעצת after Psalm 13:3, "but the soul is torn by cares." But why מתקרעה, this Hithpa. without example, for נקרעה? and now connected with מן in the sense of ὑπό! And what does one gain by this Alexandrian wisdom [of the lxx] - a contrast to 9a which is altogether incongruous? Dderlein's rendering accords far better with 9a: "but the sweetness of a friend surpasses fragrant wood." But although this rendering of the word [עצה] by "fragrant wood" is found in Gesen. Lex., from one edition to another, yet it must be rejected; for the word signifies wood as the contents of trees, the word for aromatic wood must be עצים; and if the poet had not intentionally aimed at dubiety, he ought to have written עצי בשׂם, since נפשׁ, which the exception of Isaiah 3:20, where it is beyond doubt, nowhere means fragrance. If we read עצת and נפשׁ together, then we may suppose that the latter designates the soul, as at Psalm 13:3; and the former, counsel (from the verb יעץ). But to what does the suffix of רעהוּ refer? One may almost conjecture that the words originally were וּמתק נפשׁ מעצת רעהוּ, and the sweetness of the soul (i.e., a sweet relish for it, cf. Proverbs 27:7 and Proverbs 16:24) consists in the counsel of a friend, according to which Jerome translates: et bonis amici conciliis anima dulcoratur. By this transposition רעהו refers back to נפשׁ; for is nephesh denote a person or a living being, it can be construed ad sensum as masc., e.g., Numbers 31:28. But the words may remain in the order in which they are transmitted to us. It is possible that רעהוּ is (Bttcher refers to Job 12:4) of the same meaning as הרע (the friend of one equals the friend), as כלּו denotes directly the whole; חציו, the half; עתּו, the right time. Recognising this, Cocceius, Umbreit, Stier, and Zckler explain: sweetness, i.e., the sweet encouragement (מתק, in the sense of "sweetness (grace) of the lips," Proverbs 16:21) of a friend, is better than one's own counsel, than prudence seeking to help oneself, and trusting merely to one's own resources; thus also Rashi: better than what one's own soul advises him. But (1) נפשׁ cannot mean one's own person (oneself) in contrast to another person; and (2) this does not supply a correct antithesis to 9a. Thus מן will not express the preference, but the origin. Accordingly Ewald, e.g., explains: the sweetness of a friend whom one has proceedeth from the counsel of soul, i.e., from such counsel as is drawn from a deep, full soul. But no proof can be brought from the usage of the language that עצת־נפשׁ can be so meant; these words, after the analogy of דעת נפשׁ, Proverbs 19:2, mean ability to give counsel as a quality of the soul (Proverbs 8:14; Proverbs 12:13), i.e., its ability to advise. Accordingly, with Bertheau, we explain ישׂמח־לב as the common predicate for 9a and 9b: ointment and perfume rejoice the heart, and (The Syr., Targ., well: even so) the sweet exhortation of a friend, from a soul capable of rendering counsel; also, this and this, more than that fragrance. This proverb is formed in the same way as Proverbs 26:9, Proverbs 26:14. In this explanation רעהו is well referred back to לב: and (more than) the sweet advice of his friend. But not so that רעהו is equivalent to רע הלּב, for one does not thus speak; but the construction is as when we say, in the German language: Nichts thut einem Herzen woler als wenn sein Freund es mitfhlend trstet [nothing does more good to a heart than when a friend sympathizingly comforts it]; or: Zage nicht, tief betrbtes Herz! Dein Freund lebt und wird dir bald sich zeigen [Be not dismayed, deeply-troubled heart! thy friend lives, and will soon show himself to thee]. In such cases the word "Herz" [heart] does not designate a distinct part of the person, but, synecdochically, it denotes the whole person.

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