Proverbs 23:1-16

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Proverbs 23

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

We should exercise restraint in eating and drinking.

3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

Someone might be wining and dining us in order to influence us in some way. It isn't a case of unselfish hospitality but a means of using us for some subtle purpose.

Foods that are delicacies in a royal banquet may be deceptive. A ruler-host may seem to be friendly by serving a sumptuous meal, but in reality he may be planning to betray his guest or do him an injustice. The banquet may be a buttering-up occasion.

4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Verses 4-5 warn against overwork for the sake of gaining riches.

The ceaseless struggle to be rich is a form of wisdom which is to be avoided. It means that one is spending his life pursuing false values and putting his trust in what doesn't last.

5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Riches have a way of sprouting wings and flying away like an eagle.

6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:

Proverbs 22:9 speaks of a man with a bountiful eye, i.e. a good eye as being a generous man. Here the individual has an evil eye, which suggests that he is a stingy man. Proverbs 22:9 says, 9 He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.

In 23:6, the reader is warned not to eat the bread i.e. the food) of one who has an evil eye, i.e. of a stingy person, and not to desire (or crave) his dainty meats, i.e. his delicacies.

He is a miser and begrudges you every bite of the food that you eat.

7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

The reader must realize that although he is told to eat and drink, the heart i.e. the mind, will, and desire of the stingy host does not really want this. He is a stingy miser, but hypocritically pretending to be generous. He is thinking of the cost of the food. You cannot take his words at face value.

8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

After you eat his food and realize that in his hypocrisy he really did not want you to do this, it will make you sick and want to vomit or spit out what you have eaten. Lose thy sweet words suggests that your compliments to your stingy host were wasted.

9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

Attempts to teach a fool are useless. He does not want your wise words. You are wasting your time on him. He will despise your words of wisdom.

10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

It is wrong to remove boundaries and take land from the children of widows.

11 For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

The Lord will take vengeance on behalf of the fatherless children whose land is stolen. He is their redeemer or defender. He will meet the needs of the defenseless and troubled children.

12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Take instruction seriously. Go after it. Desire instruction. Be diligent in gaining instruction. Learn to listen. Learn all you can from what others have to say. It begins with parental instruction. It continues throughout life from the Bible, from pastors and from various teachers.

There is no easy way to gain instruction. It requires discipline and application.

13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

He shall not die may mean that beating him with the rod will not kill him, or it may mean that beating him with the rod will actually save him from premature and reckless death, i.e. deliver his soul from hell, i.e. from Sheol in the next verse.

14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Hell is sheol, i.e. the grave, i.e. from a reckless or premature grave.

Children need correction rather than permissiveness.

It is not a kindness to a child to allow him to run wild. The Bible does not condone permissiveness.

15 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

Wisdom is to be internalized in one's heart.

16 Yea, my reins (i.e. inmost being) shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

A wise heart is revealed by speaking what is right.

The same is true of a pastor or teacher.

Cf. III John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.