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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Proverbs 23

 

 

Verse 1

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler (taking up Proverbs 22:29, end), consider diligently what (food or dainty) is before thee - so as not to eat greedily, or boldly and familiarly, as if thou wast at home Piscator, etc., take it, 'consider ... who is before thee'-namely, the king and his courtiers; thou shouldst be reverent, and on thy guard against giving offence. In the most ancient times they sat at meals as we do, not lay on couches as in later times (Genesis 37:25; 1 Samuel 20:5). At eating time one is tempted to be off one's guard.


Verse 2

And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

And put a knife to thy throat, if thou (be) a man given to appetite - restrain thy gluttony as it were with a knife applied to thy throat (cf. Psalms 39:1). It is better to put a knife to thy throat, so as to keep thyself in fear the whole time of the banquet, than by want of self-restraint to fall into excess.


Verse 3

Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

Be not desirous of his dainties; for they are deceitful meat. Intimacy with an absolute king is a hazardous privilege. His dainties may injure your body if you are not on your guard. A hasty word of undue familiarity and irreverent forwardness may cost you your life. Sirach 9:13 'Keep thee far from the man that hath power to kill ... and if thou come unto him, make no fault, lest he take away thy life presently; remember that thou goest in the midst, of snares etc.,' 'His dainties are deceitful meat,' because they do not afford the solid delight which they promise: they delight at first, but are really and finally hurtful. They please the appetite, but soon bite as a snake (Proverbs 20:1); leading him who indulges too freely in them to betray his inmost thoughts, to his own ruin.


Verse 4

Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Labour not to be rich (John 6:27; Matthew 6:19); cease from thine own wisdom - from that wisdom of thine whereby thou labourest to be rich, as thy first aim. Solomon does not oppose diligence, but anxiety, and the common notion that it is true "wisdom" to make money the chief object.


Verse 5

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? - literally, Wilt thou cause, thine eyes to fly upon? etc. (cf. 1 Samuel 15:19, "fly upon the spoil"). So the Qeri' ( hataa`iyp (Hebrew #5774)). But the Kethibh need not be changed (hataa`ip). 'Will thine eye fly upon that?' etc. (Maurer). But Gesenius translates even the Kethibh as the English version. "Which is not" - i:e., which suddenly vanishes. What the world designates as especially substance, God calls "that which is not" Which has no solid existence.

For (riches) certainly make (literally, make, make) themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. So the Qeri' ( yaa`uwp (Hebrew #5774)); but the Kethibh (w


Verse 6

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:

An evil eye. Contrast "a bountiful eye," Proverbs 22:9. An envious, grudging, illiberal spirit (Matthew 20:15).


Verse 7

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

For as he thinketh in his heart (grudgingly; not as his kind speeches would imply), so (is) he. "Thinketh;" the Hebrew [ shaa`ar (Hebrew #8176)] means primarily to divide; hence, to decide, or estimate; and the noun a measure. He estimates his meats, and the cost of the entertainment, more than he does you; and is ill at ease if you eat much of his food.

Eat and drink, saith he ... but his heart is not with thee. He hospitably urges you to eat, but if you do, he will dislike you the more.


Verse 8

The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

The morsel (which) thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up. You will yet have reason to wish you could give him back his food, when you discover that it was so grudgingly given. Or, imperatively, With all speed return him the hospitality which he gave, and for the future abstain from it in disgust.

And lose thy sweet words. Thou shalt lose the good that thou thoughtest to have done by "thy sweet words" interchanged with him at his table. Thou shalt repent of having wasted thy good words, like seed sown on a barren soil.


Verse 9

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

Speak not (namely, wise words) in the ears of a fool - such as the miserly host just described (Proverbs 23:6-8; Proverbs 9:8).


Verse 10-11

Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Enter not into the fields of the fatherless (in order to appropriate their property, as thinking they have none to defend them); for their Redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee - (Proverbs 22:23,) So (Jeremiah 39:10) the poor once oppressed by the rich, at the capture of Jerusalem became possessors of the land of their oppressors. Compare Israel's Redeemer, Jeremiah 50:34; Micah 7:9. The Lord is the nearest of kin to the godly and friendless poor (Matthew 12:50), and is therefore their rightful Go'el, or Redeemer, to recover their lost inheritance (Leviticus 25:25).


Verse 12

Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 13

Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Withhold not correction from the child; for (if) thou beatest him with the rod (so that sin becomes hateful to him), he shall not die - eternally (Proverbs 23:14 end).


Verse 14

Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Thou shalt beat him. The "thou" is emphatic: thou, the parent, not lightly delegating the power of the rod to others. If we would pray when we strike our children, it would provoke to wrath neither God nor them-`Lord, do thou be pleased to strike in with every stroke, that the rod of correction may be a rod of instruction' (Swinnock in Bridges).


Verse 15

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice. Resumption of the appeal, Proverbs 22:19. 'Lord, let thy blessing so accompany my endeavour, that all my sons may be Benaiahs (the Lord's building), then they will be all Abners (their father's light); and that all my daughters may be Bethiahs (Bethuels? the Lord's daughters), and then they will be all Abigails (their father's joy)' (Swinnock in Bridges).


Verse 16

Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

Yea, my reins (the seat of the affections) shall rejoice when thy lips speak right things. True wisdom begins at the heart (Proverbs 23:15); its crowning is the lips' profession and confession, to the glory of God and the good of men.


Verse 17

Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Let not thine heart envy sinners - in prosperity, so as to be tempted to imitate their example (Psalms 37:1; Psalms 73:3 ).

But (be thou) (or, let thine heart be: from the first clause) in the fear of the Lord all the day long - the antidote to envy of the prosperity of sinners. "All the day long;" not by impulsive fits and starts; not following piety only so long as it is attended with worldly success, nor deserting it when thou seest difficulties in the way, and when prosperity seems to attend the wicked.


Verse 18

For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

For surely there is an end - there is coming the wished-for end, the reward of piety (Proverbs 24:14; Proverbs 24:20; Psalms 37:37; contrast Proverbs 5:4). As many sinners flourish outwardly, and many saints suffer adversity, to the close of life, the main reward must be beyond this life.


Verse 19

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Hear thou ... be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Do not turn back or aside from the narrow way. The steps are:

(1) Hear;

(2) Be wise-the doctrinal fruit of hearing;

(3) Guide thine heart in the way, as the practical fruit of both.


Verse 20

Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:

Be not ... among riotous eaters of flesh - literally, 'among, those who immoderately eat flesh for themselves' (Deuteronomy 21:20). Maurer translates, 'among those who are lavish of their body' - i:e., who give their body up to carnal lusts. I prefer the English version (cf. Proverbs 23:21).


Verse 21

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

And drowsiness (the natural effect of excess in eating and drinking, Proverbs 23:21) shall clothe (a man) with rags - (Proverbs 19:15.)


Verse 22

Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

And despise not thy mother when she is old - as self-willed sons are apt to do, because of the feebleness of her sex and the inferiority of her authority to the father's.


Verse 23

Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Buy the truth - (Proverbs 4:5; Proverbs 4:7, notes; Isaiah 55:1.)

Sell it not - part with it for no consideration, money, pleasure, fame, ease; for it is incomparably more precious than all things else, being the one pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46).

Instruction - Hebrew, discipline.


Verse 24

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.

The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice - (Proverbs 23:15.)


Verse 25

Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice.

Thy father ... and she that bare thee (with many pains) shall rejoice. There is no better way in which thou canst repay the debt of gratitude than by gladdening her and thy father by walking in the truth.


Verse 26

My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

My son, give me thine heart - the center and regulator of the head, the hands, the feet. And let thine eyes observe my ways. So the Qeri' [titsor


Verse 27

For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit.

A whore (is) a deep ditch ... a narrow pit - where the fall is great, and whence there is no escape.


Verse 28

She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.

She also lieth in wait as (for) a prey (or as rapine itself: the abstract for the concrete: or a plunderer), and increaseth the transgressors (against God and their neighbour) among men - by enticing men, married and unmarried, into her snares. The "also" implies that not only those who frequent her haunts are injured by her, but she also uses all means to entrap those hitherto safe. One whore alone can do immense mischief.


Verse 29

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

Who hath sorrow? - Hebrew, aboi; an interjection of sorrow arising through want; from abah, to desire.

Babbling - Hebrew, siyach (Hebrew #7879); the babbling mutter of drunkards.

Who hath wounds without cause? - needlessly incurred in drunken quarrels; not wounds honourably received in defending all that is sacred to man (1 Kings 16:9-10).

Who hath redness of eyes? - suffusion of the eyes with blood. Maurer, and Gesenius makes it 'darkening of the eyes.'


Verse 30

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

They that tarry long at the wine - (Isaiah 5:11.)

Go to seek - implying their eagerness in searching for choice wine and for convivial meetings; for solitude is disagreeable to those addicted to drink.

Mixed wine - wine mixed with strong spices.


Verse 31

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red. Do not be caught by its beautiful colour in the glass. Much sin enters the soul through the avenue of the eye.

When it giveth his colour - literally, its eye; its sparkle.

(When) it moveth itself aright - when it exhibits the appearance of sparkling motion through its generous fiery nature. It looks all right in the cup (Song of Solomon 7:9, "Wine ... that goeth down sweetly:" margin, straightly. Or omit "when," which is not in the Hebrew). The wine enters the mouth easily, and without anything to offend; but "at the last it biteth like a serpent" (Proverbs 23:32).


Verse 32

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Stingeth like an adder - Hebrew, tsip`oniy (Hebrew #6848); the basilisk (Bochart); a viper (Maurer).


Verse 33

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Thine eyes shall behold (i:e. look out for) strange women. Lust is inflamed by wines. (Genesis 19:31-35; Hosea 4:18).

And thine heart shall utter perverse things - (Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 2:14; Proverbs 2:16) which shows the connection between looking for intrigues with bad women and speaking perverse things.


Verse 34

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst (the heart) of the sea - fancying himself secure as if he were in the midst of the land; implying the greatness of the danger; also the restlessness of mind and body, so that all things seem to swim around one, as if he were being tossed on the sea.

Or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast - where there is the greatest agitation.


Verse 35

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

They (my boon companions, and others provoked by me in my drunkenness, who inflicted my "wounds without cause," Proverbs 23:29; especially God's judgments and Gods reproofs, Jeremiah 5:3; Proverbs 17:10) have stricken me, (shalt thou say, and) I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not. Insensibility to correction is the spiritual mortification which precedes death (Isaiah 1:5). Habitual drunkenness generates stubborn impenitence "past feeling" (Ephesians 4:19; Deuteronomy 29:19).

When shall I awake? - implying impatience of delay, that he may as soon as possible return to drink again, reckless of the stripes and wounds which he gets. He scarcely awakes from one drunken fit when he wants reckless of the stripes and wounds which he gets. He scarcely awakes from one drunken fit when he wants another.

I will seek it yet again - (Isaiah 56:12.)

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Proverbs 23:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/proverbs-23.html. 1871-8.

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