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.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series

Proverbs 23:1

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.

Listen to the Proverbs sermon series