“Do not’s,” “listen to’s,” and the effects of drunkenness dominate the Sayings of the Wise in Proverbs 23. These clear themes speak boldly to us in ways to reap life and avoid the path of death. Now, let’s break them down:
If we like what we see and it’s not ours we’re wise to withdraw, considering it not like our own. Cast but a glance at riches and they’re gone (v. 5). Covet someone else’s things and we skate on the thin ice of life, ready to plunge to our depths. Another’s food (and particularly a king’s) is deceptive. We must be thankful for what we already have.
We should also be careful whose food we decide to eat, for an ungracious host can create regret within us for having stepped foot inside his house (vs. 6-8). The meal comes at an exorbitant price and we might not have the means to pay. And the currency may certainly not be what we expect it to be!
We ought to only fellowship with those akin in heart; those seeking our genuine companionship. These come from the most unexpected sources at times. Provide hospitality for the angel when he or she comes.
There’s a turning from quick advice to parents on discipline at verse 13, back to the son in verses 15 following, hearkening us back to Proverbs 1–9.
If we punish our children for moral wrong they will not die; paradoxically we save them from death. Psalm 37 is the echo of verses 17 and 18 (saying 15)--we’re not to envy the sinner for wanton treachery. Instead, God’s our focus. In him alone our hope is not cut off.
We’re hastened away from drunkenness and gluttony and to wisdom. “Buy the truth and do not sell it--wisdom, instruction and insight as well” –Proverbs 23:23 (TNIV). It’s the truth alone that sets us free (John 8:32).
Gross consumption of alcohol and food makes us poor and clothes us in rags. We become physical messes. The adulterous is a ‘narrow well,’ swallowing our very life (v. 27). Both wine and loose women bite like a viper, and it is well for us to keep our eyes fixed on Wisdom (Hebrews 12:2) and held fast away from what is not ours in this life.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.