Proverbs 23:8

The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
– Proverbs 23:8

Verse 8 gives the result of evil-eyed hospitality. In a word, all is a waste. The rich food is purged and gracious words are lost. No progress has been made, nor friendship forged. No mutual edification has happened. It reminds one of Jesus’ warning against casting “pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Wisdom teaches the right use of words and warns they can be wasted (Proverbs 10:8; 12:15; 15:5; 17:10; 29:19).

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Proverbs 23:7

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
– Proverbs 23:7

Verse 7 gives explanation for the warning in verse 6. The verse continues from the previous statement and is considering the man with an evil eye. Begrudging hospitality is hypocritical and deceptive. The evil eyed host says one thing and thinks another. The dainty meats phrase from verse 6 hints at the host being well off and therefore having such rich food to offer. Wisdom knows it’s better to be in company with an honest and kind man, though his cupboards are bare (Proverbs 19:22).

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Proverbs 23:6

Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
– Proverbs 23:6

Verses 6-8 teach wariness to begrudging hospitality. The man with an evil eye is a stingy begrudging host. The figure of the evil eye consistently describes a person greedy of gain, so they are not generous, are grasping, and are also described as in a hurry to be rich (Proverbs 28:22). The evil eye is contrasted with the bountiful eye of the generous giver and sharer (Proverbs 22:9). This figure is used consistently elsewhere, as in the parable with the greedy laborers (Matthew 20:15). They begrudged the generosity of the master (Matthew 20:10-15). Jesus also used the figure in the Sermon on the Mount, warning of the internal darkness of the soul of the man with an evil eye (Matthew 6:22-23). Wisdom here teaches to discern the evil eye and refuse what such a man offers.

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Proverbs 23:5

Wilt thou set thin eyes upon that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
– Proverbs 23:5

Verse 5 uncovers the folly of exhausting yourself to be rich. The flying eagle is a figure of the fleeting nature of wealth. The eagle can be seen for a little while, but soon flies away out of grasp and eventually out of sight. This proverb doesn’t highlight any specific means of losing wealth, but such instances are mentioned elsewhere in Proverbs. A greedy man is in a hurry to be rich and his haste will actually turn to poverty (Proverbs 21:5; 28:22). Lovers of pleasure and indulgence will spread their wealth thin and come to rags (Proverbs 5:7-10; 23:20-21). The slothful fool will have trouble acquiring wealth, but what he will equally have trouble keeping what he has acquired (Proverbs 24:30-31; 27:23-27). Further, foolish managers and risk takers will exhaust their stores (Proverbs 21:20; 17:18; 22:26-27). So, in one way or another, riches tend to vanish away and wisdom teaches us not to set our hearts on material wealth.

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Proverbs 23:4

Labor not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
– Proverbs 23:4

Verses 4 and 5 form the next saying, which is about the desire for wealth. The word for labor literally means to gasp and indicates being weary with toil, or exhausted. The word for rich means to accumulate and become wealthy. Wisdom warns against pursuing wealth as an object and expending much time and energy to acquire it. This warning is echoed in various ways throughout Scripture (Isaiah 55:1-3; John 6:27; 1 Timothy 6:8-10).

The word for wisdom means understanding and is often used positively in Proverbs. Here it is negative and qualified as “thine own.” Wisdom generally warns against our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). The warning in this saying speaks to stopping from our own understanding, which is tempted with riches as the solution for all our problems. Proverbs repeatedly teaches wisdom is better than riches and should be pursued as fools pursue wealth (Proverbs 2:4; 3:14-15; 8:18-19; 16:16).

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Proverbs 23:3

Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
– Proverbs 23:3

This verse brings the warnings of the previous two verses into focus. The word for desirous means to covet, or lust after. Dainties are delectable food. One thinks of the rich foods served the ruling elites. The key issue is in the explanation they are deceitful meat. So gluttony doesn’t seem the main concern but rather being deceived by the ruler. A number of reasons for the warning could be suggested, but, at least, wisdom would have us always be discerning and considering our way and its end.

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Proverbs 23:2

And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
– Proverbs 23:2

Exercising self-control is a part of keeping your wits from the previous verse. The phrase, put a knife to thy throat, is a figurative expression for exercising extreme control over your appetite. Today, we might say, “Bite your tongue,” and by that mean you should exercise extreme control over your speech. The word appetite makes us think about gluttony. Proverbs warns against gluttony (Proverbs 23:21; 28:7), but the warning here is not as much about gluttony in general. Wisdom is teaching to be self-controlled, discerning, and sober minded. This is particularly so when we are in situations where we need to be on guard.

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Proverbs 23:1

Introduction
Chapter 23 continues the collection of sayings from chapter 22, introduced as the “Words of the Wise.” The sayings are usually grouped in two to three verses about a general subject. Subjects covered in this chapter include caution, wealth, hospitality, wasted words, advocacy, wisdom, child discipline, parents, perspective, excess, honoring parents, avoiding the pit, and drunkenness.

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:
– Proverbs 23:1

Verse 1 begins a warning to keep your wits about you. A ruler may be a king, governor, magistrate, or otherwise powerful person. Verse 3 makes plain that things are not always what they seem. The word for consider diligently means to discern, perceive, or separate mentally. Wisdom teaches to discern the situation. One should be cautious, perhaps even skeptical of the motives. The ruler likely wants something from you, or is testing you in some way. The flattery of the situation could be blinding and so the warning to keep our heads.

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Proverbs 22:29

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
– Proverbs 22:29

Proverbs praises diligence and warns against laziness (Proverbs 10:4; 12:24). The word for diligent means ready, or skillful. Promotion is in view in terms of standing before kings as the reward of the diligent. Wisdom seeks promotion on merit, not bribery or empty talk (Proverbs 14:23; 28:19). Even the talk of the diligent differs from the talk of the lazy. The talk of the diligent is a wise plan executed successfully (Proverbs 21:5).

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