Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17 | NIV (1984) | Other Versions | Context


This is the first real proverbial verse I’m writing about in this blog, and really, compared to many others, it’s a simple one. Many analogies were used by various prophets and characters in the Bible, including the likes of David, Isaiah, Job and Jesus, but it is perhaps really in the book of Proverbs that such analogies are used to their maximum. Proverbs was written by Solomon son of David, a wise man (generally accepted to be the wisest man) – and his wisdom and depth can clearly be seen from his two books – Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. The few verses that came before verse 17 highlights the negativity of a common relationship, whereas verse 17 ends the chapter’s musings on interpersonal relationships on an encouraging note.

Analysis: Sharpening one another

How does iron sharpen iron? They interact with each other, rubbing off the bluntness of each other. Any two men will be different, and when they interact with each other, they can learn from each other and complement each other. Here the importance of conversing and consulting others is brought up. Often, relying on ourselves will lead us to fall easily into temptation and sin. With another person’s perspective, we are often enlightened and reminded about what we have forgotten. As one man can provoke the thoughts of another, allow each other to reflect and be encouraged or even excited.

Analysis: Be sharp against one another

Yet we need to be careful of who we converse with, as it really is just that fine line between healthy debates and ill-willed quarrels. Iron sharpening iron can have a certain degree of negative connotation – that’s the beauty of analogies. One man can easily provoke another into anger, and the other man could easily lead a man into folly. For the sake of wisdom perhaps multiple, well-discerning counsels should be sought instead of merely one; and for peace one should always be on the guard while conversing, lest the conversation falls into sin.


Do you have anybody in your life who can sharpen you positively, by offering counsel of godly wisdom; by offering a different perspective from yours; by helping you to reflect constructively; by encouraging and exciting you into bettering yourself? Or do you have anybody like a nemesis, with whom you struggle against because every time the two of you converse, it ends in bitterness and anger – the blades of you two always clash against each other? Let us pray today for positive sharpeners in our lives; not only others for us but also we for others.

God bless,


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