When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
2 And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of great appetite.
3 Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.
Inferring from verses 6-8, the idea presented here is that the ruler has a selfish agenda that he is trying to sway a person into giving into. He wants to buy the person off and use him for his purposes and agenda. Taking of his delicacies, benefits, gifts, and even bribes could cloud a person’s ability to make good decisions and more prone to join forces with a bad person. The pressure to cede a just position in the presence of power, prestige, and possessions can be strong, but a person must not desire anything the ruler can offer. He must focus on the truth of the situation, and this will keep him from being deceived.
4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
It is not a good spiritual and eternal investment to become consumed by making money or by the desire to get rich. The command here is to stop thinking about money all the time, for that is idolatry. It is impossible to love God and money at the same time (Matthew 6:24). Wealth cannot even deliver upon what it promises, for it can easily be lost or stolen. It certainly cannot buy salvation or go into the afterlife (Matthew 6:20). Its value is purely temporary, and it ought to be used to help others rather than for spurious selfish gain.
6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, “Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.
A selfish person with a wicked heart thinks ill thoughts in his mind about others. He may be pleasant on the surface, but ultimately he will betray and use a person for his own gain. It is important for a wise person to protect himself by not taking benefits from a person who is selfish, for what the person takes will end up costing him and being misery to him. A selfish person cannot and does not give freely without expecting something in return, and this is not worth the morsel eaten. It is also not worth getting tricked into thinking a person is decent-hearted and even saying as much when the reality is just the opposite. Taking gifts from those with evil motives of selfishness can blind one’s judgment and cause a person to make mistakes and be exploited. Being used and being played is a majorly undignifying and dehumanizing experience, and it is a great way to waste one’s time and energy.
9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
It is a good thing to want to share wisdom with others, but fools will reject it and despise it. Thus, rather than cast pearls before swine, it is sometimes better to not say anything than to waste words.
10 Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
11 For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.
Wicked people seek to steal property and land by voiding ancient contracts and moving agreed-upon lines. The powerful may try to take from the weak, undiscerning, and vulnerable, but God will avenge the wrongs done. He hates when the weak and innocent are oppressed and maltreated, and this is why part of being a Christian is to be compassionate and fair to those who are less fortunate.
12 Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.
Even after a person trusts Christ and is given a new heart, there is still a lifelong journey of sanctifying work to be done. The Christian’s heart desire should be for being submissive to the Word of God and to the Spirit’s working in his heart. The Christian needs self-control and discipline to apply himself to study God’s Word (2 Timothy 2:15) and to resist the devil (James 4:7) and not make provisions for the flesh and its lusts (Romans 13:14). The Christian life is an ongoing battle for truth and righteousness, and it requires a heart that trembles before God’s Word. The believer must wield Scripture as a sword to fight off Satan’s lies (Ephesians 6:17), and he must allow the Spirit to use truth to convict the heart of sin and to teach and strengthen the spirit. Wisdom keeps pressing on toward the prize of the upward call in Christ Jesus by listening to and applying God’s Word (Philippians 3:14).
13 Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
14 You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.
A parent who neglects to reprove or correct his child doesn’t love his child. He is content to let the child’s evil nature which he is born with grow until it consumes him and sends his soul to hell. Wisdom understands that children are born with a wicked heart, and those who love Jesus and their children will teach them about the nature of their sin and how Christ wants to forgive them and change them. Parenting done according to Scripture shows children the value of obeying God and how to walk in the fear of God. Parents must be willing to deal with rebellion and stubbornness quickly, and discipline cannot be an afterthought. Children need to know their boundaries, why they are there, and that they will consistently be enforced. Authoritarian parenting, abusive parenting, or parents that are just overly strict and mean are not according to the Biblical model. God is patient with us, His children, He is gracious, He is faithful to discipline us, and He is good to show us how it produces righteousness in our lives (Hebrews 12:11). The same should be true of parents raising their children. They cannot be afraid of their children getting mad at them on account of their discipline, and they cannot stop and give into thinking that they are harming their children by imposing consequences for bad behavior. This does not stymie their growth or development, but it should make them less selfish and proud. Self-esteem is useless if it is not under the authority of Christ and found in Him. Discipline shows us that we need Jesus to help us obey and that we do have a heavenly authority. It helps us learn to love Him, to deny ourselves, and to care about the needs of others. Discipline will not be fun for the child, and it is hard work for the parent. However, it is an eternally necessary investment in their lives. Spanking is not the only Biblically accepted mode of discipline, but it is a valid one if done right, without anger, and without harming the child. Parents just must remember to pay attention to their children’s hearts and to what consequences are helping them best respond to instruction and which are best leading to repentance and sorrow for sin. For some, spanking may not be the best mode of discipline, and they might respond to other incentives and consequences better. There is no spiritual magic in spanking, but discipline is a combination of teaching, forgiving, unconditional love, seeking humility on the part of the child, and working together as a parent-child team to defeat sin and to love Jesus more. Parents who take out their anger with their children on their children and call it discipline are abusive, and that is not Christian discipline. (see also Proverbs 22:6, 15)
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
16 And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.
A parent who has faithfully trained his children can be glad when he sees his children walking with the Lord. Hearing him teach wisdom to others that he has himself been taught is a wonderful blessing and evidence of a truly reborn heart in Christ.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the Lord always.
18 Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
It can be tempting to envy the wicked, for their schemes may lead to them being prosperous in worldly terms, at least in the short term. But the Christian must always live in the fear of God, meaning that he is regularly reminding himself of the reality that God will judge all men. He will reward the righteous and condemn he wicked. Their prosperity will end in eternal poverty, and those who loved righteousness will be rich in Christ. This world can be unjust, and the wicked may die gloating. But their pride will come to a vicious end, for their future is of fire and agony. The believer can take heart that he has a future and a hope of being forever with Christ (Jeremiah 29:11). He will never be cut off from that which brings Him the greatest joy, Jesus Himself. (see Psalm 37:7-10)
19 Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.
A major pitfall that many fall into is drunkenness. Our modern world thrives on beer, wine, and strong drink, but Christians are not to be drunk but rather filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When our minds are corrupted and under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other substances, it impairs our judgment and our thinking. It inhibits our ability to reason according to the Bible, and it depresses the functioning of the conscience. The Bible says that we are to be sober in spirit rather than drowsy (1 Peter 5:8), being alert and attentive to what God is doing and to what He wants us to do. Those who overeat and who drink too much do not show evidence of the fear of God in their hearts, for they do harm to themselves and put others at risk by their behavior. Christians need to be careful who they associate with because this behavior can quickly rub off. Heavy drinking can be consuming and addictive, and it can bring a person to complete dependence, loss, and poverty. The same can happen with overeating. Sin always is destructive by its very nature, and the Christian must put aside the entanglements of sin (Hebrews 12:1). (see also v. 29-35 and Proverbs 20:1)
22 Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy truth, and do not sell it,
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
25 Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
26 Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
Children are wise to listen to the wise teaching of their parents and to thank them for what they have invested in their lives. The best investment is to learn truth and to hold tightly to it no matter what happens, knowing that the Word of the Lord endures forever even in a constantly changing world. Parents should want their children to have hearts that are eager to learn about the Lord, and this brings great joy to them. Their teaching should be modeled for their children by how they live so that their children can delight not only in what they say but in what they do. A life that is consistent in word and deed and in truth and grace has a way of capturing a child’s attention and allowing Christ to capture his heart.
27 For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.
28 Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.
Solomon mentions the dangers of the adulteress again (see Proverbs 5-7) knowing that so many young men fall prey to her temptations. Those who go to her will find themselves trapped in a narrow well, for she promises refreshing drink but leaves them near death. She, like the devil who comes to steal, kill, and destroy, promises life and pleasure but gives destruction and misery in the end. She cannot give what she promises, for life and pleasure are found in Christ and in the good and perfect gifts which He provides. There is no need to become faithless and reject God’s commands, for faithfulness is the only hope of true satisfaction in this life.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35 “They struck me, but I did not become ill;
They beat me, but I did not know it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”
Those who get drunk typically do it regularly. Even after doing a bunch of dumb things on account of impaired judgment, they are still quick to plot their next over-indulgence of alcohol. They view the destruction that they do to themselves and others while intoxicated as funny, for they do not fear God or value Him or others. Their lives lead to arguments, fights, injuries, pain, sorrow, regrets, and personal harm. Drunkenness leads to seeing things that aren’t real and to doing things that are foolish. It draws out the worst in a person, and it puts them in danger. Yet, because they have no value of eternity or concern for others, they keep doing it again and again. Sexual immorality and alcoholism are two of the most travelled paths to death and destruction, and the Christian needs to purpose to avoid both at all costs. Both promise pleasure and relief, but both end with the bite of a snake. No man ever found happiness and satisfaction this way, and nobody ever will. Satan promises quick shortcuts, but God’s way, even though it takes a lot of time, energy, and sacrifice, is the only way that works. There is far more satisfaction in a marriage where two Christians are enthralled with each other and in doing the work of God than in a bottle of alcohol or in the batting of the eyes of a prostitute Sadly, despite the danger and destruction of drunkenness, people go right back to doing it again. They will only find more pain, frustration, and strife as a result.