Proverbs 23 Commentary

Social-climbers and others (23:1-35)

Those who seek status like to mix with the upper classes and try to copy their habits. But because of their ignorance of how to eat fine foods, they make fools of themselves and so spoil their chances of progressing up the social ladder. The food they desire becomes the means of their downfall (23:1-3). The desire for wealth can lead to disappointment (4-5), and the efforts to win the favour of others may win only their disfavour. This may particularly be the case when the wealthy are miserly; for they may be thinking all the time of how much it is costing them to entertain those who seek their favour (6-8).

Trying to teach wisdom to fools is a waste of time (9). Exploitation of the poor is dangerous, for God is their protector (10-11). If people are keen to learn wisdom, and just as keen to train their children likewise, they will have deep satisfaction (12-16).

When the wicked prosper, the righteous should not envy them, but realize that God in his time will punish evil and reward good (17-18). Those who cannot control their eating and drinking habits only create trouble for themselves (19-21). Children should respect their parents. If from an early age they are taught the value of goodness and wisdom, they will bring joy to their parents in later life (22-25).

Prostitution leads not only to personal ruin but also to social decay (26-28).

Among the fruits of drunkenness are sorrow, trouble, physical injury and bad health (29-30).

Drinking may be enjoyable, but when drunkenness results, the person’s stomach, eyesight, mind, speech and ability to walk are all badly affected (31-34). Yet the drunkard declares that he suffers no ill effects from drink, and boasts that he is looking forward to more (35).

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