Proverbs 23: Disciplined to be Dignified

Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding. Proverbs 23:23

Shop for Truth, Wisdom, Instruction and Understanding


23 1  When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you; 2  And put a knife to your throat If you are a man given to appetite. 3  Do not desire his delicacies, For they are deceptive food.

4  Do not overwork to be rich; Because of your own understanding, cease 5  Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; They fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

6  Do not eat the bread of a miser, Nor desire his delicacies; 7  For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, But his heart is not with you. 8  The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, And waste your pleasant words.

9  Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

10  Do not remove the ancient landmark, Nor enter the fields of the fatherless; 11  For their Redeemer is mighty; He will plead their cause against you.

23:10, 11 their Redeemer is mighty:  The tendency of evil people in all ages is to take advantage of the helpless.  But the destroyer of persons needs to know that the widow and orphan have a Redeemer, a protector of family rights – His name is the living God.

12  Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge.

23:12 The Hebrew word for instruction can also be translated “discipline.”

13  Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. 14  You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell. 15  My son, if your heart is wise, My heart will rejoice–indeed, I myself; 16  Yes, my inmost being will rejoice When your lips speak right things.

17  Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18  For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.

23:17, 18 The first proverb here sharply contrasts the vain envy of sinners with the fear of the Lord, the expression of piety that the proverbs repeatedly encourage (see 1:7).  The second gives the perspective that everyone needs:  Present success – or lack of it – is not the final outcome.  There will be a future state fundamentally different from this world.  The word hereafter can also be rendered “glorious future” (see Num. 23:10).

19  Hear, my son, and be wise; And guide your heart in the way 20  Do not mix with winebibbers, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21  For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags 22  Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. 23  Buy the truth, and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding. 24  The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. 25  Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice. 26  My son, give me your heart, And let your eyes observe my ways. 27  For a harlot is a deep pit, And a seductress is a narrow well. 28  She also lies in wait as for a victim, And increases the unfaithful among men.

29  Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30  Those who linger long at the wine, Those who go in search of mixed wine. 31  Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it swirls around smoothly; 32  At the last it bites like a serpent, And stings like a viper. 33  Your eyes will see strange things, And your heart will utter perverse things. 34  Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, Or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: 35  “They have struck me, but I was not hurt; They have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”

23:29-35 Perils of Drunkenness

Who has woe:  Along with Isaiah’s celebrated description of debauchery (Is. 19:11-15), this section is one of the sharpest attacks on drunkenness in the Bible.  The satire is razor sharp and the image vivid.

 A series of proverbs warns against the drunkenness by pointing out its drawbacks.  The drunken person is quarrelsome, and his senses are so dulled he is likely to get into a fight when no cause exists.  They waste time drinking and looking for some new drink to try.  They focus on its sensory appeal rather than evaluate its poisonous impact on their lives and relationships.  When they are intoxicated, they can neither see nor think straight and are completely unstable.  The drunkard’s senses may be so dulled that he doesn’t feel blows when he is struck, but when he comes out of his stupor, he’ll feel the pain – and go right back to the drink which led to it.

** Like a good parent, God also rejoices when a child grows up to become a wise and righteous human being.  The intent of discipline is not to subjugate but to give freedom (e.g. from addiction) and dignity.  






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