9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
The verse for today is quite different from those we looked at yesterday. However, I have to admit verse nine through me a curve ball. I just didn’t get it, the first phrase that is: Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart.
Then I remembered what it was like to grow up in the country with farm animals and all the smells associated with them … some not good at all.
So think of the times when this was written, when cleanliness was not very common and air-conditioning did not exist. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible tells us about
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
Similarly we read in the Pulpit Commentary that
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,
While this would not be possible for many of the poor, it would be a common practice at some level of income or wealth. Therefore there was no real surprise when we read the following
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
Nor was there any surprise when we read the following in Genesis 43
24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys.
Thus, with this in mind, it should not surprise us at all to read the first part of the verse, Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and see it tied directly to a comparison with the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. As an engineer I got advice from all sorts of people, as a pastor even more, but advice – heartfelt advice – from a friend is always welcome and appreciated. It is genuine advice and from the heart, how could it not be appreciated.
Finally, after gaining the background for this verse the following references to aroma make a great deal more sense to me.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2
May the aroma of Christ abound in our lives each and every day especially as we consider His wonderful Gift of Grace on the cross.