“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
Explanation and Commentary of Proverbs 27:9
It is remarkable how a pleasant smell, especially one attached to a good memory, can affect the mood of a person. Aromatherapy is based on this principle, and some people find it helpful. Conversely, unpleasant smells can cause the opposite reaction. What should be pleasant conversation can turn unpleasant when one of the participants has bad breath! Or a beautiful landscape can be difficult to enjoy when there is a rotting animal corpse nearby or even a live skunk. God created us to be drawn to and cheered by good smells.
There is an analogy here with friendship. A friend who gives less than earnest advice, who doesn’t show true concern, can make a bad situation even worse than it was. However, when the counsel is “heartfelt,” that is, there seems to be genuine care behind the words, it can make all the difference for us. It brings a feeling of solidarity knowing that we are not alone when those we associate with take the time to empathize and give good advice.
What kind of friend are you? What would it take for your advice to be more heartfelt? Jesus calls us to love one another as we love ourselves. This is the essence of the Christian community.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Proverbs 27:9
#1 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart,”
The Jews were given instructions for making perfume and incense for the temple worship and sacrifices with strict prohibitions against using certain formulas for personal use. Perfumes and incense were a common part of Hebrew life, and today many people rely on them for various uses.
#2 “and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”
Meant to be analogous with the joy of pleasant aromas, earnest and heartfelt advice from a true friend should bring about the same positive feeling. It is so encouraging to have friends, especially Christian friends. The best way to get more of them is to be one.
Expert Overview of Proverbs
Biblical Translations of Proverbs 27:9
Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.
Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.
Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel.
Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.