PROVERBS CHAPTER 23.
V. 1. When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, with a person of influence and power, consider diligently what is before thee, keeping in mind throughout the dinner that it is a mightier and loftier one at whose invitation one is present, v. 2. and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite, keeping the usual gluttonous appetite in leash by the strongest warnings and threats, restraining the least sign of self-indulgence. V. 3. Be not desirous of his dainties, craving the finest food on the table; for they are deceitful meat, literally, “bread of deception,” it is a deceptive meal, the object of the powerful person not being to dispense free hospitality, but to make use of his guest in some manner. V. 4. Labor not to be rich, the vanity of such an ambition being obvious; cease from thine own wisdom, having enough common sense not to make the acquisition of riches the chief aim in life. V. 5. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not, looking eagerly for, craving eagerly after, something which has no lasting substance? For riches certainly make themselves wings, they are not a dependable possession; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven, they are as unstable as a bird of the air, whence it follows that he who trusts in them is foolish. V. 6. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, of a jealous and covetous man, neither desire thou his dainty meats, which are held out before his guest as a sort of bait, not with open kindliness, but with a hidden purpose, for the envious person’s selfishness will not permit him to dispense true hospitality; v. 7. for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he, his true nature does not appear on the outside, but his calculating meanness counts every bite his guest takes. Eat and drink, saith he to thee, with apparent politeness and cordial hospitality; but his heart is not with thee, he is not sincere, it is all sham and deceit, planned with selfish calculation. V. 8. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, namely, afterwards, upon finding out about the host’s deception, and lose thy sweet words, those spoken in acknowledgment of the supposed hospitality. V.9. Speak not in the ears of a fool; for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. V. 10. Remove not the old landmark, the boundary which was placed when the land was first divided to the several families, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless, for the purpose of changing the boundary marks or committing other acts of violence; v. 11. for their Redeemer, their Avenger, the one who champions their cause, is mighty; for it is the Lord Himself who acts as their vindicator; He shall plead their cause with thee, appearing as the Advocate of the defenseless and, at the same time, as the Judge of the violators. V. 12. Apply thine heart unto instruction, paying willing attention to correction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge, those which teach prudence and circumspection. V. 13. Withhold not correction from the child; for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die, that is, the punishment may be bitter, even for the parent, but that fact dare not interfere with the plain duty imposed by the Lord. V. 14. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, with severe punishment, if necessary, and shalt deliver his soul from hell, for the correction will result in blessing to the child, in keeping him from worse transgressions and thus becoming a victim of death in sins. Cp. chap. 3, 27; 19, 18; 22, 15. V. 15. My son, if thine heart be wise, as the result of wholesome teaching here offered, my heart shall rejoice, even mine, for such is the effect of successful teaching upon the instructor. V. 16. Yea, my reins, his whole inner being, shall rejoice when thy lips speak right things, in an outward manifestation of the wisdom of the heart. V. 17. Let not thine heart envy sinners, for their apparent happiness and prosperity; but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long; that is the proper object of emulation, after which one ought to strive with all his heart. V. 18. For surely there is an end, the end, the Day of Judgment, will surely come; and thine expectation shall not be cut off, God will then fulfill the hopes of the righteous and give them the joys of immortal life with Him. V. 19. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way, by directing it to go straight forward on the right way, in conduct becoming a believer, a child of God. V. 20. Be not among winebibbers, those given to intemperance in drinking, among riotous eaters of flesh, for these two forms of intemperance are usually found together; v. 21. for the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty, all his property being dissipated in riotous living; and drowsiness, the laziness and apathy into which the intemperate man is bound to sink in consequence of his excesses, shall clothe a man with rags, bring him to the very depths of poverty. V. 22. Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, in ready obedience to all his commands, and despise not thy mother when she is old, it being the tendency of young people to be ashamed of their aged parents and no longer to heed their counsel. V. 23. Buy the truth, not minding the hard labor and sacrifice required to gain it, and sell it not, since it is precious beyond all riches of the world; also wisdom and instruction and understanding, these synonyms including both the knowledge in itself and its application in all situations of life. V. 24. The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice, being filled with happiness on account of the fact that his son turned out so well and is an honor to his father; and he that begetteth a wise child, one who has acquired true wisdom and understanding, shall have joy of him, this fact will make his old age pleasant. V. 25. Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice, this fact being urged in order to stimulate the children in true pious conduct. Cp. chap. 10, 1; 15, 20; 27, 11. V. 26. My son, give Me thine heart, Wisdom herself here pleading with the young person to be devoted to her at all times, and let thine eyes observe My ways, following the conduct, the principles, and the rules of life which are prescribed by true wisdom, as summarized in the Word of God. V. 27. For a whore, as opposed to the person of wisdom, is a deep ditch, and a strange woman, the outsider, the harlot, is a narrow pit, one yielding to her seductions will find it hard to escape from her power. V. 28. She also lieth in wait as for a prey, like a highwayman, and increaseth the transgressors among men, multiplying the number of those who yield to her seductive arts and commit the sin of fornication or adultery. Cp. chap. 7, 5-23. V. 29. Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow, or grief? The Hebrew notes the moaning by giving the sighs Ah! and Alas! Who hath contentions? being most easily involved in quarrels. Who hath babbling? said of senseless mutterings and mouthings. Who hath wounds without cause? inflicted in drunken brawls. Who hath redness of eyes? the characteristic bloated, bleary, and flushed condition of the face which marks the drunkard and the habitual drinker. V. 30. They that tarry long at the wine, being engaged regularly in drinking it; they that go to seek mixed wine, the strong spiced liquor whose inebriating effects were even worse than that of wine. The admonition, therefore, is spoken: v. 31. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, observing its tempting color with longing eyes, when it giveth his color in the cup, literally, “when it showeth its eye,” in an inviting sparkle, when it moveth itself aright, when it glides down the throat smoothly and pleasantly. V. 32. At the last it biteth like a serpent, its ruinous and destructive influence becoming evident afterward, and stingeth like an adder, whose venom had a most deadly effect. V. 33. Thine eyes, under the influence of the liquor, as it clouds the senses, shall behold strange women, rather, strange things, all objects being doubled, or uncertain, or swaying, in the vision of the drunken man, and thine heart shall utter perverse things, foolish talk. V. 34. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, down in its depths, unconscious of his surroundings, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast, asleep in a most perilous position, reeling, staggering to and fro, in momentary danger of being hurled into the waves. V. 35. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, the language of the drunken man being well imitated, and I was not sick, he did not feel the pain of it; they have beaten me, and I felt it not, he was not aware of it; when shall I awake? He is anxious to get over the effect of the present debauch. I will seek it yet again; for he who is addicted to the vice of intemperance is bound as with chains, he is a willing slave. The entire description is remarkably true to life and is intended to fill the reader with the deepest aversion and loathing for the sin of drunkenness, which changes men into brute beasts and often degrades them even below the level of animals.