Proverbs 23:1-9

In Proverbs 23:1-9 Solomon begins by warning us about eating with someone who is in power. He tells us to open our eyes and see what is before us, so we can discern the situation and not make a mistake.  The idea is of a generous invitation to eat with powerful people at a table loaded with delicious, well-prepared food. This was something like what Daniel and his companions later faced in Daniel 1.  “When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” Don’t be overwhelmed and seduced by the atmosphere of power and luxury. If you are vulnerable to these temptations you must beware.

Solomon returns to the topic of wealth and not letting it control our desires to attain it. Money can cause us to make poor judgments and seek after things that are not necessarily things God desires. Though working hard is a mark of wisdom, we don’t live for the riches that may come from that work. Those riches are too vulnerable and temporary to be a worthy focus of our life. Managing that tension between work and life has to be a priority. “Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.” Riches will certainly disappear, and once gone, they are gone forever.

He then warns us about one who is stingy, and the need to avoid eating what he desires.  The stingy person always keeps score and will want repayment beyond what was given. He doesn’t want you to really enjoy yourself as his table, because he wants to keep more food for himself. You will offend him if you are foolish enough to take him at his word. “Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.” The table of the miser will be such an unpleasant experience that the food you enjoyed will come back to bother you.

Solomon again returns to warn us about the fool and how we should not waste our breath speaking logic in their presence as a fool will reject truth and push aside common sense every time. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.”  This assumes that the one doing the speaking is not himself a fool and is a wise man. The fool will not receive or appreciate your wisdom. It will be as Jesus later described – like throwing pearls before pigs.  It is a waste of time and energy to attempt and teach a fool.  He will never receive or learn what wisdom you have to share, so you might as well save your breath!

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