Proverbs 23


Sobriety in eating and drinking, especially at the tables of

the great. Have no fellowship with the covetous. Remove not the

ancient landmark. Children should receive due correction. Avoid

the company of wine-bibbers. Obedience to parents. Avoid lewd

connections. The effect of an unfeeling conscience.


Verse 1. When thou sittest to eat with a ruler] When invited to

the table of thy betters, eat moderately. Do not appear as if half

starved at home. Eat not of delicacies to which thou art not

accustomed; they are deceitful meat; they please, but they do not

profit. They are pleasant to the sight, the taste, and the smell;

but they are injurious to health. These are prudential cautions;

and should be carefully observed by all who would avoid the

conduct of a clown, and desire to pass for a well-bred man.

Verse 2. Put a knife to thy throat] Repress thy appetite, and do

not be incontinent of speech. Eat, drink, and converse, under a


Verse 4. Labour not to be rich] Let not this be thy object.

Labour to provide things honest in the sight of God and all men;

and if thou get wealth, do not forget the poor, else God's curse

will be a canker even in thy gold.

Cease from thine own wisdom.] binathecha, thy own

understanding or prudence. The world says, "Get rich if thou

canst, and how thou canst." Rem, si possis, recte; si non,

quocunque modo rem; "Get a fortune honestly if thou canst; but if

not, get one at all events." This is the devil's counsel, and well

it is followed; but Solomon says, and God says, "Cease from thine

own counsel." Thou hast an immortal soul, and shalt shortly appear

before God. Lay up treasure for heaven, and be rich towards God.

Verse 6. Of him that hath an evil eye] Never eat with a covetous

or stingy man; if he entertains you at his own expense, he grudges

every morsel you put in your mouth. This is well marked by the

wise man in the next verse: "Eat and drink, saith he: but his

heart is not with thee."

Verse 8. The morsel which thou hast eaten] On reflection thou

wilt even blame thyself for having accepted his invitation.

Verse 10. Remove not the old landmark] See the preceding

chapter, Pr 22:28.

Enter not into the fields of the fatherless] Take nothing that

belongs to an orphan. The heaviest curse of God will fall upon

them that do so.

Verse 11. For their redeemer is mighty] goalam, their

kinsman. The word means the person who has a right, being next in

blood, to redeem a field or estate, alienated from the family, to

avenge the blood of a murdered relative, by slaying the murderer;

and to take to wife a brother's widow, who had died childless, in

order to preserve the family. The strength here mentioned refers

to the justness of his claim, the extent of his influence, and

the powerful abettors of such a cause. But in reference to the

orphans here mentioned, they having no kinsman, God takes up,

vindicates, and avenges their cause.

Verse 14. Thou shalt beat him with the rod] A proper correction

of children was a favourite point of discipline with Solomon. We

have already seen how forcibly he speaks on this subject. See the

notes on the places referred to in the margin.

Verse 18. Surely there is an end] yesh acharith,

there is another life; "and thy expectation" of the enjoyment of a

blessed immortality "shall not be cut off." The Old MS. Bible

reads thus: For thou schalt hav hop in the last: and thin abiiding

schal not ben taken awei. "For the ende is not yet come; and thy

pacient abydinge shal not be in vayne."-COVERDALE.

Verse 20. Be not among winebibbers] There is much of this

chapter spent in giving directions concerning eating, drinking,

and entertainments in general. First, the pupil is directed

relative to the manner in which he is to conduct himself in his

visits to the tables of the rich and great. 2. Relative to the

covetous, and his intercourse with them. And 3. To public

entertainments, where there were generally riot and debauch. The

reasons, says Calmet, which induced the wise man to give these

directions were, 1. The useless expense. 2. The loss of time. 3.

The danger from bad company. And 4. The danger of contracting

irregular habits, and of being induced to lead a voluptuous and

effeminate life.

Verse 22. Despise not thy mother when she is old.] A very

necessary caution, as very old women are generally helpless,

useless, and burdensome: yet these circumstances do not at all

lessen the child's duty. And this duty is strengthened by the

Divine command here given.

Verse 23. Buy the truth] Acquire the knowledge of God at all

events; and in order to do this, too much pains, industry, and

labour cannot be expended.

And sell it not] When once acquired, let no consideration

deprive thee of it. Cleave to and guard it, even at the risk of

thy life. Coverdale translates: "Labour for to get the treuth;

sell not awaye wissdome."

Verse 26. My son, give me thine heart] This is the speech of God

to every human soul; give thy affections to God, so as to love

him with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And let thine eyes observe my ways.] Be obedient to me in all

things. My son, thou believest that I AM, and that I AM the

Fountain of all good. Give me thy heart; it is I alone who can

make thee happy. Observe my ways-follow me; do what is right in my

sight. This exhortation contains three words: BELIEVE LOVE, OBEY!

This is the sum of God's counsels to every child of man.

Verse 27. For a whore is a deep ditch] See on Pr 22:14.

Verse 28. Increaseth the transgressors among men.] More iniquity

springs from this one source of evil, than from any other cause in

the whole system of sin. Women and strong drink cause many

millions to transgress.

Verse 29. Who hath wo?] I believe Solomon refers here to the

natural effects of drunkenness. And perhaps oi, which we

translate wo, and aboi, which we translate sorrow, are

mere natural sounds or vociferations that take place among drunken

men, either from illness, or the nauseating effects of too much

liquor. As to contentions among such; babblings on a variety of

subjects, which they neither understand nor are fit to discuss;

wounds, got by falling out about nothing; and red eyes,

bloodshotten with excess of drink, or black and blue eyes with

fighting;-these are such common and general effects of these

compotations, as naturally to follow from them. So that they who

tarry long at wine, and use mixed wine to make it more

inebriating, (see Pr 9:2,) are the very persons who are most

distinguished by the circumstances enumerated above. I need

scarcely add, that by wine and mixed wine all inebriating liquors

are to be understood.

Verse 31. Look not thou upon the wine] Let neither the colour,

the odour, the sparkling, &c., of the wine, when poured out,

induce thee to drink of it. However good and pure it may be, it

will to thee be a snare, because thou art addicted to it, and hast

no self-command.

Verse 33. Thine eyes shall behold strange women] Evil

concupiscence is inseparable from drunkenness. Mr. Herbert shows

these effects well:-

He that is drunken may his mother kill,

Big with his sister: he hath lost the reins;

Is outlawed by himself. All kinds of ill

Did, with his liquor, slide into his veins.

The drunkard forfeits man; and doth divest

All worldly right, save what he hath by beast.

HERBERT'S Poems.-The Church Porch.

Verse 34. Lieth down in the midst of the sea] He is utterly

regardless of life; which is expressed very forcibly by one in a

state of intoxication ascending the shrouds, clasping the

mast-head, and there falling asleep; whence, in a few moments, he

must either fall down upon the deck and be dashed to pieces, or

fall into the sea and be drowned. Reader, if thou be a man given

to this appetite, put a knife to thy throat.

Verse 35. They have stricken me] Though beat and abused, full of

pain, and exhibiting a frightful figure; yet so drunk was he, as

to be insensible who had struck him: still, after all this abuse

and disgrace, he purposes to embrace the next opportunity of

repeating his excesses! SIN makes a man contemptible in life,

miserable in death, and wretched to all eternity. Is it not

strange, then, that men should LOVE it?

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