Proverbs 23-24

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

September 22, 2004


Last week we started a section of Proverbs (Proverbs 22:17 – 24:22) that consists of thirty proverbs. These were not necessarily Solomon’s proverbs, but they proverbs that Solomon had collected along the way.

(Prov 22:20 NIV) Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge,

Proverbs 23

:1-3 …Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

This is the 6th proverb

It’s possible for a king to get you hooked on his style of living and use that to manipulate you and cause you to do certain things to maintain that style of living.

:4-5 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

This is the 7th proverb

(Pr 23:4-5 NLT) Don’t weary yourself trying to get rich. Why waste your time? {5} For riches can disappear as though they had the wings of a bird!

:6-8 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye

This is the 8th proverb

evil eye – this is literally what the Hebrew says.  But what does it mean?  NAS – “selfish man”, NIV – “stingy man”, NKJV – “a miser”, The Message – “a tightwad”

It’s very similar to the one in Pro. 23:1-3, but here it’s the “stingy” man you need to be careful of.

:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he

This verse has been used to say that you need to be careful what you think about, because you become what you think about.

The idea has been that you need to think positively about yourself so you become a better person.

But the verse has a context. It’s talking about the man who is stingy.

He may say nice things to you and tell you to eat all of his expensive food, but inside he’s wishing you’d go away and leave him to his food.

:8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up

You’d wish you hadn’t eaten a thing.

The last three proverbs all have to do with warnings about what you wish for.


Be careful what you live for

The Mermaid
Three guys are out having a relaxing day fishing. Out of the blue, they catch a mermaid who begs to be set free in return for granting each of them a wish. Now one of the guys just doesn’t believe it, and says, “Okay, if you can really grant wishes, then double my IQ.” The mermaid says, “Done.” Suddenly the guy starts reciting Shakespeare flawlessly and analyzing it with extreme insight. The second guy is so amazed, he says to the mermaid, “Triple my IQ.” The mermaid says, “Done.” The guy starts to spout out all the mathematical solutions to problems that have been stumping all the scientists in various fields-physics, chemistry, etc. The last guy is so enthralled with the changes that his friends that he says to the mermaid, “Quintuple my IQ.” The mermaid looks at him and says, “You know, I don’t usually try to change people’s minds when they make a wish, but I really wish that you would reconsider.” The guy says, “No, I want you to make my IQ five times higher, and if you don’t do it, I won’t set you free.” “Please,” says the mermaid, “You don’t understand what you’re asking, it will change your entire view on the universe. Won’t you ask for something else...a million dollars, anything?” But no matter what the mermaid said, the guy insisted on having his IQ increased by five times its usual power. So the mermaid sighed and said, “Done.” … And he became a woman.

…I don’t get it …

When Daniel was carried off to Babylon to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, he was careful about what he ate:
(Dan 1:8 KJV) But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

We think that his concern might have had something to do with foods that had been sacrificed to idols, or perhaps they were foods not on the list of “clean” foods.

We could apply these verses to the things that the world wants to put in front of us, things that Satan would want us to get hooked on, things that Satan might use to trap us:
Jesus said,

(Luke 21:34-36 NLT) "Watch out! Don't let me find you living in careless ease and drunkenness, and filled with the worries of this life. Don't let that day catch you unaware, {35} as in a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. {36} Keep a constant watch. And pray that, if possible, you may escape these horrors and stand before the Son of Man."

Jesus met a fellow who had had tasted some of those kingly “dainties” …
(Mat 19:16-26 NLT)  Someone came to Jesus with this question: "Teacher, what good things must I do to have eternal life?" {17} "Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "Only God is good. But to answer your question, you can receive eternal life if you keep the commandments." {18} "Which ones?" the man asked. And Jesus replied: "'Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not testify falsely. {19} Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.'" {20} "I've obeyed all these commandments," the young man replied. "What else must I do?" {21} Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." {22} But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions. {23} Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to get into the Kingdom of Heaven. {24} I say it again--it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!" {25} The disciples were astounded. "Then who in the world can be saved?" they asked. {26} Jesus looked at them intently and said, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible."
When you set your heart on the wrong things, your relationship with God is the thing that suffers.

:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

This is the 9th proverb

Some people just won’t listen to reason.

:10-11 Remove not the old landmark

This is the 10th proverb

Removing the landmark means changing the geography of a place, changing the title deed to a piece of land.  It would be a way of cheating your neighbor out of some of their land.

(Prov 23:10-11 ICB)  Don't move an old stone that shows where somebody's land is. And don't take fields that belong to orphans. {11} God, their defender, is strong. He will take their side against you.

:13-14 …Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

hell[email protected]’owl – sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit; it could refer to hell or simply death.

This is the 11th proverb

A child isn’t going to die from being spanked.  Even if they claim they’re going to die.

The goal is discipline.  The goal is to keep them from going down the wrong paths in life, paths that lead to hell or simply a stupid death.

:15-16 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

This is the 12th proverb

:17-18 Let not thine heart envy sinners

This is the 13th proverb

(Prov 23:17-18 NIV)  Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. {18} There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

It’s a dangerous road to start being envious of things that aren’t healthy for you.  Don’t let your heart go there.

:19-21 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

This is the 14th proverb

(Pr 23:19-21 The Message) {19} Oh listen, dear child—become wise; point your life in the right direction. {20} Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. {21} Drunks and gluttons will end up on skid row, in a stupor and dressed in rags.

:22-23 Hearken unto thy father that begat thee…

This is the 15th proverb

Make wisdom a priority in life.

:24-25 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice

This is the 16th proverb

Doing good things makes a parent proud.

:26-28 She also lieth in wait as for a prey

This is the 17th proverb

(Prov 23:26-28 ICB)  My son, pay attention to me. And watch closely what I do. {27} A prostitute is as dangerous as a deep pit. And an unfaithful wife is like a narrow well. {28} They ambush you like robbers. And they cause many men to be unfaithful to their wives.

I think that most men like to be tempted.  If sin weren’t so much fun, we wouldn’t want to do it.  But you need to see down the road where it’s leading you.

:29-35 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? …

This is the 18th proverb

contentionsmadown – strife, contention; NLT – “who is always fighting”

:30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

(Prov 23:30 NLT)  It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks.

:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red

I think of how wine connoisseurs will look at a glass of wine, swirl it, sniff it, and sip it.

:33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women

(Prov 23:33 NLT)  You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things.

:34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea

(Prov 23:34 NLT)  You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast.

:35 …they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.


One Drunken Night

A fellow decides to take off early from work and go drinking. He stays until the bar closes at 2am at which time he is extremely drunk. When he enters his house, he doesn’t want to wake anyone up so he takes off his shoes and starts to tip toe up the stairs. Halfway up the stairs, he falls over backwards and lands flat on his rear end. That wouldn’t have been so bad except that he had a couple of empty pint bottle in his back pockets that broke and the broken glass carved up his rear end terribly. But, he was so drunk that he didn’t know he was hurt. A few minutes later as he was undressing, he noticed blood, so he checked himself out in the mirror and sure enough, his behind was cut up something terrible. He repaired the damage as best he could under the circumstances and went to bed. The next morning, his head was hurting, his rear was hurting and he was hunkering under the covers, trying to think of a good story, when his wife came into the bedroom. “Well, you really tied one on last night”, she said, “Where did you go?” “I worked late,” he said, “and I stopped off for a couple of beers.” “A couple of beers? That’s a laugh. You were plastered last night, so where did you go?” she inquired. “What makes you so sure that I got drunk last night anyway?” “Well, she replied, “My first big clue was when I got up this morning and found a bunch of band aids stuck to the mirror!”

It sounds kind of cute and kind of funny until that guy is you.  Or the person you’re married to and you are the one that has to clean up the mess.  And it happens over and over again.

Then it’s no longer cute.  It’s tragic.

Stay away from the alcohol.  Get some help.

Proverbs 24

:1-2 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.

This is the 19th proverb

Be careful who your heroes are.

:3-4 Through wisdom is an house builded

This is the 20th proverb

I don’t think the proverb is talking merely about the structure you live in.

(Prov 24:3-4 ICB)  It takes wisdom to have a good family. It takes understanding to make it strong. {4} It takes knowledge to fill a home with rare and beautiful treasures.

:5-6 A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.

This is the 21st proverb

A wise man is strong because he makes the right choices.

A man becomes wise when he listens to good counsel.  He doesn’t have to have all the answers, but he knows how to pay attention to his counsellors.

:7 Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.

This is the 22nd proverb

The gate was the place for leaders, elders, judges, kings.  It was where decisions were made, judgments were made.

:8-9 He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.

This is the 23rd proverb

:10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

This is the 24th proverb

(Prov 24:10 NLT)  If you fail under pressure, your strength is not very great.

(Prov 24:10 ICB)  If you give up when trouble comes, it shows that you have very little strength.

(Pr 24:10 The Message) If you fall to pieces in a crisis, there wasn’t much to you in the first place.

Adversity can make you bitter or it can make you better.

Adversity can make you quit or it can make you strong.

It all depends on whether or not you quit.

(Jer 12:5 KJV)  If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan?

(Jer 12:5 ICB)  "If you get tired racing against men, how can you race against horses? You stumble in a country that is safe. What will you do in the thick thornbushes along the Jordan River?

God wants us to learn to stand in the day of adversity.  God wants us to train to race against horses.  God wants us to learn not to quit.


Some time ago a fascinating article appeared in the Reader’s Digest telling about a most unusual tree called the “Bristlecone Pine.”  Growing in the western mountain regions, sometimes as high as two or more miles above sea level, these evergreens may live for thousands of years.  The older specimens often have only one thin layer of bark on their trunks.  Considering the habitat of these trees, such as rocky areas where the soil is poor and precipitation is slight, it seems almost incredible that they should live so long or even survive at all.  The environmental “adversities,” however, actually contribute to their longevity. Cells that are produced as a result of these perverse conditions are densely arranged, and many resin canals are formed within the plant.  Wood that is so structured continues to live for an extremely long period of time.  The author Darwin Lambert says in his article, “Bristlecone Pines in richer conditions grow faster, but die earlier and soon decay.”  The harshness of their surroundings, then, is a vital factor in making them strong and sturdy.  How similar this is to the experience of the Christian who graciously accepts the hardships God allows to come into his life.  In Hebrews 12:11 we read that such chastening produces “the peaceable fruit of righteousness.”

:11-12 If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death

This is the 25th proverb

(Pr 24:11-12 The Message) Rescue the perishing; don’t hesitate to step in and help. {12} If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,” will that get you off the hook? Someone is watching you closely, you know— Someone not impressed with weak excuses.

Who are “the perishing”?  How do we rescue them?  Does God care about our excuses?

What a great proverbs to motivate us to share Christ with the world.

:13-14 My son, eat thou honey …

This is the 26th proverb

It’s good to know the pleasure of sweet things.  Remember that wisdom is also sweet.

:15-16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again

This is the 27th proverb

(Prov 24:15-16 NLT)  Do not lie in wait like an outlaw at the home of the godly. And don't raid the house where the godly live. {16} They may trip seven times, but each time they will rise again. But one calamity is enough to lay the wicked low.

If you are the person who has fallen, get up again.

:17-18 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth

This is the 28th proverb

God wants us to be a compassionate people.

(Mat 5:43-48 KJV)  Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. {44} But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; {45} That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? {47} And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? {48} Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

God is compassionate and merciful to people who hate Him.  We should be too.

:19-20 …neither be thou envious at the wicked;

This is the 29th proverb

Don’t wish to be like them.  They’ll get theirs.

:21-22 …meddle not with them that are given to change:

This is the 30th proverb

given to changeshanah – to repeat, do again, change, alter

Some of the paraphrases give this the idea of “change of government”, or, “rebels”.

(Prov 24:21-22 NLT)  My child, fear the LORD and the king, and don't associate with rebels. {22} For you will go down with them to sudden disaster. Who knows where the punishment from the LORD and the king will end?

I wonder about the idea of people who simply are always trying to change everything.  They’re never happy with anything.

:23-25 …It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Here’s where a new section of Proverbs starts.

Respect of persons – being partial to some folks, especially if they are wicked people.

:26 Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.

As long as it’s my wife kissing my lips …

(Prov 24:26 ICB)  An honest answer is as pleasing as a kiss on the lips.

:27 Prepare thy work without…and afterwards build thine house.

(Prov 24:27 ICB)  First, you should work outside and prepare your fields. After that, you can start having your family.

Some people don’t take time to do a good job at work and then their family suffers.

Others spend all their time at work and never build their family.

:28-29 Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause

Don’t get even like this.

:30-34 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth

(Prov 24:34 ICB)  Soon you will be poor, as if you had been robbed. You will have as little as if you had been held up.

Be diligent at work.  Do your work.

I heard of one of the Olympic athletes that decided if he just got up 15 minutes earlier each day, he would gain over 90 hours a year, in ten years he would have gained over a month’s time.  What could you accomplish with that much extra time?