Which would you rather have - wounds or kisses? Without more information, just about anyone would answer kisses. Yet when this proverb is through with us, we might want to rethink our answer.
What exactly is a "faithful wound?" To be faithful here means to provide stability and patience. The faithful wound of a friend will help us be built up, supported, nurtured, and established. How could a wound do that? Well, we are speaking of a wound of a friend - not a wound on a battlefield. Our friends wound us when they know that difficult words must be said. They don't take any pleasure in wounding us. Unfortunately they see the need for a difficult statement - a correction - a word of warning about something they see in our lives. They say it to prevent problems not cause them. They see that the wound is necessary in the short term - becuase greater damage will result in the long term without it. So they speak - risking misunderstanding - risking offence - risking making us angry. Yet they see that not speaking - not wounding would be even worse. In fact, not speaking would be the most unfriendly thing they could do.
The kisses are those of an enemy . . . enough said. But it might help us to see how they are described. An enemy gives only deceitful kisses. Thus we learn right off the bat that we cannot trust actions alone - the outward can be deceitful. As God says often - the issue is the heart.
The word "deceitful" actually means to be multiplied. It actually speaks of someone who does more - or does bigger - or does more numerously than normal. Thus the deceitful person over does it in order to cover the lying nature of his or her actions.
So what can we learn from this proverb? First we can learn that when someone is giving us far more affection and congratulation than normal, we might want to be careful about basking in their adulation - it might be deceitful in nature. It might have ulterior motives behind it. Second, we also need to learn to accept the wounds of our friends as gifts rather than grating comments that get on our nerves. This is one time where it is better to receive a wound than a kiss. For the kiss may only be a prelude to something far worse, while the wound is given only for the purpose of blessing us in the end.