Proverbs 23 – Gluttony, Parenting and Alcohol Abuse
Gluttony 23:1–3. To put a knife to the throat is to take extraordinary measures to avoid overindulging. Also, the rich do not give away their favors for free, they want something in return.
Wealth Disappears 23:4–5 We have all heard of people who have won millions of dollars and then lost it all. Even the average person can spend an inheritance — or a paycheck — with lightning speed and have little to show for it. Don’t spend your time chasing fleeting earthly treasures. Instead store up treasures in heaven, for such treasures will never be lost. (See Luke 12:33,34 for Jesus’ teaching.)
The Right Friends 23:6–8 This proverb warns us not to envy the life-styles of those who have become rich by being stingy and miserly, and not to gain their favor by fawning over them. Their “friendship” is phony — they will just use you for their own gain.
Words to a Fool 23:9. As in Jesus’ warning not to throw pearls before pigs (Matt 7:6), the point here is that you should not waste much time trying to teach the stubbornly unresponsive.
Justice 23:10–11. The setting of this proverb is a court battle in which one party has wrongfully seized the property of another party, and God himself takes on the role of attorney for the wronged, weaker party. The term Defender or redeemer refers to someone who bought back a family member who had fallen into slavery or who accepted the obligation to marry the widow of a family member (Ruth 4:3-10). God is also called a Redeemer (Exodus 6:6; Job 19:25).
Education 23:12. The acquisition of instruction is not to be taken lightly. The verse is in the imperative and suggests that education is vital to one’s whole life.
Discipline 23:13–14. The stern tone of discipline here is offset by the affection expressed in verse 15. However, many parents are reluctant to discipline their children at all. Some fear they will forfeit their relationship, that their children will resent them, or that they will stifle their children’s development. But correction won’t kill children, and it may prevent them from foolish moves that will. However, parents who find it only too easy to apply the rod, and especially those who lose their tempers when doing so, should consider Eph 6:4.
A Parent’s Desire 23:15–16. The joy of giving one’s parents or teachers a sense of pride and satisfaction should serve as a motivation to pursue the right path.
Bad Role Models 23:17–18. What parents fear most is that their teaching will be undermined by the child’s peers or by adults who are bad role models. How easy it is to envy those who get ahead unhampered by Christian responsibility or God’s laws. For a time they do seem to get ahead without paying any attention to what God wants. But to those who follow him, God promises a hope and a wonderful future even if we don’t realize it in this life.
More Bad Role Models 23:19–21. Here we have more warnings about hanging out with people who will destroy us or our children: drunks and gluttons.
Children Should Listen 23:22–25 The child is encouraged to make his parents proud. Since both father and mother are mentioned, it is clear that these are actual parents and not the teacher in place of parents. Verse 22 does not mean that the parents are old but that the son perceives them in that way.
Illicit Sex 23:26–28 Access to prostitutes destroys families.
23:29–35. These verses are very insightful! They describe with incredible accuracy the physical and emotional decline of those addicted to alcohol. Wine (and in modern society, illicit drugs) brings physical pain and debilitation, exhausts one’s resources, takes away mental acuity, and yet leaves one craving for more of the same. “Lingering over” alcohol (vv. 30–31) describes those who derive comfort and security in knowing that a glass of wine is at hand, ready to deaden the senses. In the end, however, it only leaves people more confused and in deeper pain than ever before (vv. 32–35a).
*Alcohol in itself is not bad, it’s the abuse of it that is. Israel was a wine-producing country. In the Old Testament, wine presses bursting with new wine were considered a sign of blessing (Prov 3:10). Wisdom is even said to have set her table with wine (Prov 9:2,5). But the Proverbs also alerts to the dangers of drinking wine to excess. It dulls the senses; it limits clear judgment (Prov 31:1-9); it lowers the capacity for control (Prov 4:17); it destroys a person’s efficiency (Prov 21:17). To make wine an end in itself, a means of self-indulgence or as an escape from life is to misuse it and invite the consequences of the drunkard.
Good stuff today, as always I am blown away by the Bible’s accuracy into life, living and the human heart. See you tomorrow!
Life Application Bible Notes
New American Commentary