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 19:11

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.
– Proverbs 19:11

The word for discretion means prudence, or good sense. The phrase, deferreth his anger, literally means long of nose. It is an idiom that means long, or slow, to get angry. The proverb is not describing a forgiving man, but rather a man that overlooks, or shrugs off, a personal offense. He is not easy to make angry, nor is he quick to respond to insults. The word for glory means ornament and speaks of beauty in the sense of being finely adorned. Wisdom is marked by control of oneself, not being quick tempered, and here being thick skinned (Proverbs 14:29; 16:32). This proverb also highlights the moral beauty of self-control (Proverbs 20:3) and contrasts with the ugliness where it is wanting (Proverbs 25:28).

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Proverbs 16:32

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
– Proverbs 16:32

Self-control is a mark of wisdom found throughout Proverbs. A wise man controls his anger (Proverbs 14:17, 29; 15:18), his mouth (Proverbs 29:11), and his spirit (Proverbs 25:28). This proverb not only promotes the self-control of wisdom but describes it as better. The mighty and one that taketh a city refers to a conquering warrior or king. The proverb concludes wisdom is better, as Solomon also said elsewhere (Ecclesiastes 9:18).

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