Thursday, August 6, 2009

Proverbs 23: 1-12

On Life and Conduct
1When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
2And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of great appetite.
3Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.
4Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration of it.
5When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.
For wealth certainly makes itself wings
Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.
6Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
7For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, "Eat and drink!"
But his heart is not with you.
8You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.
9Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.
10Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
11For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.
12Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.

Today's Thought Question:
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

Poetry with purpose! "Wealth certainly makes itself wings...." I love that! But, I'm going to look at verses 6-8 today:

"Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, "Eat and drink!" But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments."

This is a passage that is literally rich, but also spiritually rich.

The selfish man. Here's how my S.B. describes him: "This is the greedy one who, to be rich, hoards his riches, withholding from the poor and needy to keep and increase his own wealth. He invites someone to enjoy his courtesies, feigning generosity, while really being sickeningly hypocritical, as his real goal is to take advantage in some way so as to increase his wealth at his guest's expense."

(Whew! And why do we accept those invitations?)

At his base, the selfish person is about himself. Are people born selfish? I remember reading with daughter #1 about "the baby" and what babies are like. Are babies born selfish? In the sense that they can't do anything for themselves, so the world is all about them--yes. Does that mean they stay selfish? Well, you would hope not, but....

I like the King James' translation for verse 7: "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Hope this hasn't become a broken record yet, but you see how this concept tied into everything talked about in Proverbs. If one's heart is not right with God, then everything else is affected, including how one thinks and his character. (And if we are not taught to think of others as better than ourselves, then there is something wrong with our "training up" time.)

"O LORD, I call upon You; hasten to me!.... Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies."

--Psalm 141 1a & 4 (An Evening Prayer for Sanctification and Protection; A Psalm of David)
Why the emphasis on delicacies or "dainty meats" (KJV)? You need an attraction to bring someone to the table. I'm reminded of a job interview I had with a timeshare organization. (It was writing advertising copy, not sales.) They asked me to sit through their presentation as part of my interview, as if I were a potential client!! I think the interview was my "carrot" to consider a timeshare!

The selfish one has a grand invitation and lays out the full spread, but he doesn't intend to make any genuine offers or have any genuine fellowship. Since the selfish one doesn't have a heart for anyone else, his heart is clearly some place else. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says that one visiting the selfish one should "shun the dainties of the niggard [stingy, miserly], who counts the cost of every morsel that his guest eats."

"His miserly serving will turn your stomach when you realize the meal's a sham."
--The Message

This is quite the strong metaphor for what selfishness is. Where does the Christian have the greatest potential to fall into sin? I would say with the attraction of the invitation. If you're offered a free meal somewhere, do you find it difficult to throw out the coupon? Why do we accept? Free and food. Unfortunately, the offers of free stuff or good food--or both together--aren't usually what they seem.

Of course, the greatest offer made to mankind exists for the taking. Salvation--offered freely, as the One who is the anti-selfish man paid the bill. The bread He offers is the bread of life, fulfilling to all who are weary, to all who carry a heart filled of themselves.

"When we are called by God to his feast, and to let our souls delight themselves, (Isaiah 25:6; 55:2), we may safely partake of the Bread of life. "
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible


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Tomorrow's Scripture Focus and Thought Question:

Proverbs 23: 13-25 ( of the Solomon-compiled proverbs)
  1. What proverb in today's passage spoke to you and why?

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Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation, specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB). I will quote other sources if used in a post.
I also use Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (with notes from the King James Version).


B His Girl said...

I was drawn to the same one you discussed. The insight is profound to me. I hear the warning to be careful. B

Carmen said...

I was drawn to verses 6-8 as well. I was invited to someone's home once. A friend warned me that they would put out all kinds of appealing foods, but that they would complain later to each other about everything I'd eaten. I guess that was why these verses stood out to me.

Sue J. said...

B, welcome back!

Carmen, I shouldn't be surprised to see Scripture fulfilled--but I was! YIKES!!

I host a Christmas brunch for my friends every year--I think it's #7 coming up this December. It's my Christmas present to them. I do pay attention to what I serve, and try to make it appetizing. But I never count the cost--only note what to keep on the menu for next year!