In ancient times many castles were built on a high place such as a hill. The castle would usually have very thick outer walls. The entrance would have a thick gate with bars to secure it in place. All of these made it difficult for enemies to enter a palace or fortress. They had to climb steep inclines to get to the castle. Then they had thick walls to either get over or try to go through. The entrance gate was thick and had bars to keep them from pushing through. Solomon said, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the Bars of a castle” (Prov. 18:19).
Solomon tells us that when love is lost, bitterness sets in, and the bitterness is as strong and intense as the love had previously been. Bitter are the quarrels of friends. Those who love beyond measure also hate beyond measure. When brothers fall out, as Solomon is pointing out, it is with extreme difficulty that they can be reconciled.
This verse shows us an offended brother is hard to be won, but it does not say it is impossible. Paul and Barnabas had a serious break (Acts 15:36-40), but there is no evidence that such was permanent. Paul refused to take Mark (Acts 15:37-38), which no doubt was an offense to Mark, but later Paul wrote, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is useful to me in ministering (2 Tim. 4:11). Jacob and Esau had a notable fall out (Gen. 27:41-46), but later there was reconciliation (Gen. 33:8-12). This verse from Solomon gives a strong reason for being careful of what we say and do that may needlessly offend others. James 1:19 tells us, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.”
It is a wonderful thing to have good friends. It is even better to have friends who are Christians. But, there can be disagreements. What is important is to not allow emotions and tempers to get out of control. If this occurs, then statements and actions can occur that will destroy that friendship. It is very important to learn how not to hurt one another. True love and friendship can be learned from the word of God, the Bible. God gave us the information we need to know in order to speak and act wisely toward one another. We need to learn how to control our tempers and never put bars on our gates.
Nettleton church of Christ