Summary: This is a verse by verse look at Proverbs chapter 23.

Pearls From Proverbs – Chapter Twenty Three

We will now look at chapter 23.

1 When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you, Proverbs 23:1 (NASB)

The point of this proverb is to be careful when eating with an important or influential person because he or she may try to influence or bribe you. Unwary meetings over meals can lead to undermined convictions. No good will come from such meals.

2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite. Proverbs 23:2 (NASB)

Barnes says of this verse:

“Restrain thy appetite, eat as if the knife were at thy throat.” Others render the words “thou wilt put a knife to thy throat” etc., i. e., “indulgence at such a time may endanger thy very life.”

3 Do not desire his delicacies, For it is deceptive food. Proverbs 23:3 (NASB)

In graphic language, the writer warns us not to envy the lifestyles of those who have become rich by being stingy and miserly, and not to gain their favor by fawning over them. Their "friendship" is phony—they will just use you for their own gain.

4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. Proverbs 23:4 (NASB)

There are people who wear themselves out trying to gain wealth. Be careful with this. You need money to survive in this world – but be very careful what you do and what you give up to gain 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. Proverbs 23:5 (NASB)

We have all heard of people who have won millions of dollars and then lost everything. Even the average person can spend an inheritance—or a paycheck—with lightning speed and have little to show for it. Don't spend your time chasing fleeting earthly treasures. Instead, store up treasures in heaven, for such treasures will never be lost.

6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, Or desire his delicacies; Proverbs 23:6 (NASB)

If you eat with a selfish person be very careful. They will consider that you “owe” them something.

7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. Proverbs 23:7 (NASB)

What you think in your mind about yourself – so you are. In other words – our minds are powerful and we become what we think about ourselves. A person is known by their actions – but actions begin with thoughts.

8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, And waste your compliments. Proverbs 23:8 (NASB)

In graphic language, the writer warns us not to envy the lifestyles of those who have become rich by being stingy and miserly, and not to gain their favor by fawning over them. Their "friendship" is phony—they will just use you for their own gain.

9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words. Proverbs 23:9 (NASB)

Have you ever spoken words of wisdom and yet be made fun of? The things of God are not easily understood – especially by fools.

10 Do not move the ancient boundary Or go into the fields of the fatherless, Proverbs 23:10 (NASB)

This proverb tells us to be honest in our dealings. Don’t move the boundary for your own gain and don’t steal from the fields of the fatherless. God gives special protection to the fatherless – for now He becomes their father.

11 For their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you. Proverbs 23:11 (NASB)

The word redeemer referred to someone who bought back a family member who had fallen into slavery or who accepted the obligation to marry the widow of a family member (Ruth_4:3-10). God is also called a Redeemer (Exo_6:6; Job_19:25).

12 Apply your heart to discipline And your ears to words of knowledge. Proverbs 23:12 (NASB)

The people most likely to gain knowledge are those who are willing to listen. It is a sign of strength, not weakness, to pay attention to what others have to say. People who are eager to listen continue to learn and grow throughout their lives. If we refuse to become set in our ways, we can always expand the limits of our knowledge.

13 Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. Proverbs 23:13 (NASB)

The stern tone of discipline here is offset by the affection expressed in verse 15. However, many parents are reluctant to discipline their children at all. Some fear that they will forfeit their relationship, their children will resent them, or they will stifle their children's development. But correction won't kill children, and it may prevent them from foolish moves that will.

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