Proverbs 23

Listen to Proverbs 23
1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what[a] is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite.
3 1Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.
4 2Do not toil to acquire wealth; 3be discerning enough to desist.
5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone, 4for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven.
6 5Do not eat the bread of a man who is 6stingy;[b] 7do not desire his delicacies,
7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.[c] "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his 8heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words.
9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words.
10 9Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their 10Redeemer is strong; he will 11plead their cause against you.
12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold 12discipline from a child; 13if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
14 If you strike him with the rod, you will 14save his soul from Sheol.
15 15My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad.
16 My 16inmost being[d] will exult when your lips speak 17what is right.
17 Let not your heart 18envy sinners, but continue in 19the fear of the LORD all the day.
18 Surely 20there is a future, and your 21hope will not be cut off.
19 Hear, my son, and 22be wise, and 23direct your heart in the way.
20 Be not among 24drunkards[e] or among 25gluttonous eaters of meat,
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and 26slumber will clothe them with rags
22 27Listen to your father who gave you life, 28and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 29Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
24 30The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
25 31Let your father and mother be glad; let 32her who bore you rejoice.
26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe[f] my ways.
27 For a prostitute is 33a deep pit; 34an adulteress[g] is a narrow 35well.
28 36She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind.
29 37Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has 38wounds without cause? Who has 39redness of eyes?
30 Those who 40tarry long over wine; those who go to try 41mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it 42bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter 43perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast.[h]
35 "They 44struck me," you will say,[i]"but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I 45must have another drink."

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Proverbs 23 Commentary

Chapter 23

Verses 1-3 God's restraints of the appetite only say, Do thyself no ( proverbs 23:4-5 ) this world are not happiness and a portion for a soul; those that hold them ever so fast, cannot hold them always, cannot hold them long. ( 6-8 ) . Do not make thyself burdensome to any, especially those not sincere. When we are called by God to his feast, and to let our souls delight themselves, Isa. 25:6 Isa. 55:2 |, we may safely partake of the Bread of life. Verse 9 . It is our duty to take all fit occasions to speak of Divine things; but if what a wise man says will not be heard, let him hold his ( proverbs 23:10-11 ) protection. He is their Redeemer, who will take their part; and he is mighty, almighty.

Verses 12-16 Here is a parent instructing his child to give his mind to the Scriptures. Here is a parent correcting his child: accompanied with prayer, and blessed of God, it may prove a means of preventing his destruction. Here is a parent encouraging his child, telling him what would be for his good. And what a comfort it would be, if herein he answered his ( proverbs 23:17-18 ) disappointed; the end of his trials, and of the sinner's prosperity, is at hand.

Verses 19-28 The gracious Saviour who purchased pardon and peace for his people, with all the affection of a tender parent, counsels us to hear and be wise, and is ready to guide our hearts in his way. Here we have an earnest call to young people, to attend to the advice of their godly parents. If the heart be guided, the steps will be guided. Buy the truth, and sell it not; be willing to part with any thing for it. Do not part with it for pleasures, honours, riches, or any thing in this world. The heart is what the great God requires. We must not think to divide the heart between God and the world; he will have all or none. Look to the rule of God's word, the conduct of his providence, and the good examples of his people. Particular cautions are given against sins most destructive to wisdom and grace in the soul. It is really a shame to make a god of the belly. Drunkenness stupifies men, and then all goes to ruin. Licentiousness takes away the heart that should be given to God. Take heed of any approaches toward this sin, it is very hard to retreat from it. It bewitches men to their ruin.

Verses 29-35 Solomon warns against drunkenness. Those that would be kept from sin, must keep from all the beginnings of it, and fear coming within reach of its allurements. Foresee the punishment, what it will at last end in, if repentance prevent not. It makes men quarrel. Drunkards wilfully make woe and sorrow for themselves. It makes men impure and insolent. The tongue grows unruly; the heart utters things contrary to reason, religion, and common civility. It stupifies and besots men. They are in danger of death, of damnation; as much exposed as if they slept upon the top of a mast, yet feel secure. They fear no peril when the terrors of the Lord are before them; they feel no pain when the judgments of God are actually upon them. So lost is a drunkard to virtue and honour, so wretchedly is his conscience seared, that he is not ashamed to say, I will seek it again. With good reason we were bid to stop before the beginning. Who that has common sense would contract a habit, or sell himself to a sin, which tends to such guilt and misery, and exposes a man every day to the danger of dying insensible, and awaking in hell? Wisdom seems in these chapters to take up the discourse as at the beginning of the book. They must be considered as the words of Christ to the sinner.

Cross References 45

  • 1. ver. 6
  • 2. Proverbs 15:27; Proverbs 28:20; Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10; Hebrews 13:5
  • 3. [Proverbs 3:5, 7; Proverbs 26:12; Isaiah 5:21; Romans 12:16]
  • 4. Proverbs 27:24
  • 5. [Psalms 141:4]
  • 6. Proverbs 28:22; Deuteronomy 15:9
  • 7. ver. 3
  • 8. [Psalms 12:2]
  • 9. See Proverbs 22:28
  • 10. [Exodus 6:6]; See Job 19:25
  • 11. See Proverbs 22:23
  • 12. See Proverbs 13:24
  • 13. [Proverbs 19:18]
  • 14. [1 Corinthians 5:5]
  • 15. ver. 24, 25; See Proverbs 29:3
  • 16. Psalms 7:9; Psalms 73:21
  • 17. [Proverbs 8:6]
  • 18. See Psalms 37:1
  • 19. [Proverbs 28:14]
  • 20. Proverbs 24:14, 20
  • 21. Psalms 9:18
  • 22. Proverbs 6:6
  • 23. [Proverbs 9:6]
  • 24. [ver. 29, 30; Isaiah 5:11, 22; Matthew 24:49; Luke 21:34; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18]
  • 25. Proverbs 28:7
  • 26. [Proverbs 6:10, 11]
  • 27. See Proverbs 1:8
  • 28. [Proverbs 30:17]
  • 29. [Proverbs 4:5, 7; Proverbs 18:15; Matthew 13:44]
  • 30. ver. 15; See Proverbs 29:3
  • 31. [See ver. 24 above]
  • 32. Proverbs 17:25
  • 33. [Proverbs 22:14]
  • 34. See Proverbs 2:16
  • 35. Psalms 55:23
  • 36. Proverbs 7:12; [Ecclesiastes 7:26]
  • 37. [ver. 20, 21]
  • 38. [ver. 35]
  • 39. Genesis 49:12
  • 40. Isaiah 5:11
  • 41. Proverbs 9:2, 5; Psalms 75:8; Isaiah 5:22; Isaiah 65:11
  • 42. Job 20:16
  • 43. See Proverbs 2:12
  • 44. Jeremiah 5:3; [ver. 29]
  • 45. Isaiah 56:12

Footnotes 9

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates the false steps Solomon took, notwithstanding all his wisdom, in marrying strange wives, and worshipping other gods, 1Ki 11:1-8 upon which the Lord threatens him to rend the kingdom in his son's time, 1Ki 11:9-13 and he raised up adversaries against him, Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam, 1Ki 11:14-26 of which last an account is given, and of his being assured by Ahijah the prophet of his having ten of the tribes of Israel given to him; which Solomon having notice of sought to slay him, 1Ki 11:27-40 and the chapter is concluded with an account of Solomon's death and burial, 1Ki 11:41-43.

Proverbs 23 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.