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Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wisdom in being a sincere and sensitive friend

Proverbs 27:14

14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.

Proverbs 25:20

20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.


Are you a grizzly bear in the morning when someone wakes you? If you are the type that seems to need to exert great effort to get out of bed and get moving when those blankets are oh so warm, and that pillow is oh so soft, then you are probably a friend of the bean.

By bean, I mean coffee. That drink that gets your heart started, that sip that gets your motor running in the morning. It is like a hot, brown, liquid narcotic and before you know it, you are jonesing for another cup of Joe.   

If so, then the song for you is "The Coffee Song.” It was written by Bob Hillard, a songwriter known for his ditties and humorous tunes for movies such as Alice in Wonderland, and With Six You Get Eggroll. Hillard penned The Coffee Song in 1946, and the bouncing, jittery jingle was first recorded by Frank Sinatra: 

Way down among Brazilians,
Coffee beans grow by the billions,
So they've got to find those extra cups to fill.
They've got an awful lot of coffee in Brazil.

If you are reluctant to roust from your slumber, or find it difficult to do basic things such as form coherent sentences until you have consumed a cup or two of piping hot Java, then you are not alone. Once the preferred drink of ancient Ethiopian kings, many famous people since have been enthusiasts of the morning cup of mud. 

President Theodore Roosevelt (hands down, America’s most caffeinated chief executive) consumed it by the gallon. Benjamin Franklin haunted coffee shops long before Starbucks existed, and Soren Kierkegaard took his coffee sweet with lots of sugar. 

If you are in the company of such notables and their potables, then the thought of doing without your morning jolt might lead you to protest loudly for all to hear. This is what composer Johan Sebastian Bach does with his “Coffee Cantata:” Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht (Be still, stop chattering), BWV 211.

Bach, who frequented the Zimmermann Coffeehouse in Leipzig, wrote a short, whimsical piece about his own slavery to the bean in 1735. It was put to words to create a humorous operetta that is often performed in coffee shops:

Father, don’t be so hard!
If three times a day I can’t
drink my little cup of coffee,
then I would become so upset
that I would be like dried up piece of roast goat. 

If you are someone, then, who is slow to emerge from hibernation, the only thing worse than waking up to find something other than “Folgers in your cup,” would be encountering your nemesis: a “morning person.”

A morning person is someone who loves waking early and is either filled with boundless cheerful energy, or enthusiastically begins the business of their day. Phrases like “Rise and shine!” can place murderous motives into the heart of a lethargic layabout.

Solomon knew what it meant to show inappropriate enthusiasm, and penned a proverb to prove a point:  

14 He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning,
It will be counted a curse to him.–Proverbs 27:14

The “blessing of a friend” is not a bad thing, of course. A profession of friendship to another is necessary in being friends. However, something more sinister is going on here. 

Loudly proclaiming friendship may seem like enthusiastic loyalty, but Solomon couples the phrase with that of the plight of a sleeper disturbed by the noise of an unthinking morning person. Someone who professes friendship but lacks sincerity is like one who runs roughshod over the slumber of another. 

Have you had someone in your past who has treated you kindly or claimed friendship, only to be able to use you for their selfish gain? Or perhaps have you experienced someone who to your face would claim to be your friend, only to insult or seek to do you harm when you turned your back? In such a betrayal, the loving words of friendship that they claimed would echo bitterly. 

An old proverb states that “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Often good intentions can result in terrible pain—only to be excused as being ”for the good of the kids,” "I meant it for the best.” Much like a mother whose children never call or visit, and yet on Mother’s Day she receives expensive gifts with beautiful cards with verses saying what a wonderful mother she is and how much they love her.

Such a person, God says, will be cursed by his insincerity, and his own words will come back to bite him. Solomon doubtless remembers such a curse in the consequence that met his father David’s advisor Ahithophel. 

Once a trusted advisor to the king, Ahithophel chose to side with David’s rebellious son Absalom when he moved to usurp his father’s throne. The words of Psalm 55 capture well the heartbreak David must have felt:

12 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me;
Then I could bear it.
Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me;
Then I could hide from him.

13 But it was you, a man my equal,
My companion and my acquaintance.

14 We took sweet counsel together,
And walked to the house of God in the throng.–Psalm 55:12-14

II Samuel 17:14 how later, Ahithophel fell out of favor with Absalom, and when his rebellion ended in defeat, David’s former friend committed suicide.

Jesus knew such a friend in Judas—and even among many of His other followers who were not among the Twelve. It is to them and us that Jesus gives this warning in His Sermon on the Mount:

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.–Matthew 7:21

Often considered “the most terrifying words in the Bible,” the thought of following Jesus and then being rejected by Him is sobering. Or is it? Jesus regularly calls His followers to check their commitment levels. For many it is easy to follow the miracle-working Rabbi, but when true faith is required they can scarce to be found. C.S. Lewis describes this all-too-common phenomena among Christians:

There have been men before … who got so interested in proving the existence of God that they came to care nothing for God himself… as if the good Lord had nothing to do but to exist. There have been some who were so preoccupied with spreading Christianity that they never gave a thought to Christ.–C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce”

Do you fear Jesus’s words? Do you like being a part of Christianity, but not being a Christian and all of the sacrifices and sufferings that it may entail? 

There is another aspect to this proverb that Solomon wishes to convey. You can see it reflected in chapter 25:

20 Like one who takes away a garment in cold weather,
And like vinegar on soda,
Is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.–Psalm 25:20

The inappropriately-timed enthusiasm of someone who is a little too “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” for someone who has not yet had his morning caffeine is similar to one who employs misguided light-heartedness during times of sorrow. Unlike the “wounds of a friend” in Proverbs 27:6, a friend who inflicts pain during a time of grief can do great damage. 

It would be cruel to take the coat of someone who is suffering the cold temperatures of the winter season. Likewise, to be inappropriately cheerful when someone is suffering can only deepen their hurt. 

Solomon is saying with these two proverbs that true friendship requires two things: sincerity, and sensitivity. What does it mean to be a sensitive friend or neighbor? It means taking the time to know the other person so that you can understand their needs and respond appropriately. Solomon later echoes this in the book of Ecclesiastes:

A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;–Ecclesiastes 3:4

In our modern culture, the free expression of one’s emotion and feelings can be considered a hallmark of “authenticity.” While this is commendable in its way, it can also mean that ones emotions and preferences are expressed at the expense of others. 

Do you find it difficult to relate to someone who is experiencing loss? Do the words escape you? This is perfectly normal, but given the fact that death and heartbreak are also part of the normal cycle of life in this sinful world, perhaps it would be good to learn proper and helpful ways to respond to these kinds of needs. 

If you feel awkward or struggle with showing proper sympathy, it may mean that you are actually too focused on yourself. Solomon’s image of happy singing while someone cries can be akin to you sincerely but disastrously trying to cheer someone up in the wrong way. For one thing, simply telling your friend to “cheer up” usually ends up causing them more pain as it appears that you do not care. 

Likewise, trying to “one-up” their tale of woe with one of your own can sometimes put your neighbor’s pain in perspective, but more likely will make it seem as if you are re-directing the spotlight onto you, instead of appreciating their situation. Even worse is when your past (now resolved) misfortune truly pales in comparison their current pain. 

A true friend is not content when his friend is sad, says Tim Keller. True friends hearts are “tied to each other,” just as Christ ties His to you: 

Jesus tied His heart to us so that even in His sufferings He knew joy because of the salvation He was bringing to us.-Keller

Jesus is tied to your heart by the unbreakable chord of His grace and Spirit. He is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 who not only bore your iniquities on the cross, He bears them daily as you are made more and more into His likeness before the Father. 

Can you do this for your friends and neighbors? For your spouse or children? For that annoying person at church who makes snarky comments to you? Your tendency, like all people, is to be willing to sacrifice or suffer only for those whom you love, and who love you unreservedly in return. Christ has loved you even when you were still a sinner and a rebel at heart (Roman 5:8). 

Can you truly tie your heart to that of your friend? One way to do this is to lift them up in prayer. Interceding for them can bring their need before the Father—but it also makes you a committed part of the solution to your friend’s troubles. In doing this, you are another step closer to being Christ to them in their time of need. 

David, whose own heart was broken so many times, often chose to give of himself in order to help others. When Saul the king (who would go on to murderously pursue David) was in need, David gave of himself and took out his harp to play:

23 And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.–I Samuel 16:15-23

This was indeed a sweet song for a heavy heart, and it pleased the Lord. What sweet song can you sing to a hurting heart?

 [BONUS: Here is an enjoyable playlist entitled "Morning Coffee" featuring vintage music and coffee-related ads!]


The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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