Ointment and perfume delight the heart, and the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.
I think we all know that scents and smells have the power to change one’s mood. For example, the aroma of fresh cookies baking in the oven can put a smile on anyone’s face. Likewise, the odor of a freshly agitated skunk would send us all running in the other direction. Scents and smells also have the power to trigger memories we associate with them. A certain fragrance might remind you of sweet times spent with someone who used to wear that perfume. The aroma of lavender might lull you to sleep. A crisp citrus fragrance might awaken you and bring you focus. When we wear a fragrance or light a scented candle, it is certainly because we derive some joy from that aroma.
I think we all can agree that friendship should be uplifting instead of bringing us down. This verse equates the wise counsel of a true friend to a pleasing aroma that invigorates the heart. This assumes that we have taken as friends those who are wise. If we enjoy the company of fools, we will not receive beneficial counsel. We can liken the support we receive from our friends in life to scents and odors. Those who give us good counsel to help us along are like that pleasing fragrance. Those who steer us in the wrong direction through foolish advice are a pungent odor. Yet, this is not just about the counsel will receive but more importantly about the counsel we impart to others.
We obviously want to surround ourselves with those who can give us hearty counsel, but we also want to make sure that we provide the same in return. We want to be the sweet fragrance that fills the lives of others with a pleasing aroma. We want to help direct others in the ways of the Lord because it is a delight. Not only does it bring joy to that person’s heart, but it brings joy to God’s heart. It is a gift and a privilege that He equips us to move a person’s heart to delight by the wisdom He teaches us. Father, bring us friends with the wisdom to share good counsel with us, and give us opportunities to pass that wisdom along to others.