Proverbs 23 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Proverbs 23)

Verse 1

[1] When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

Ruler — With a great man.

Verse 2

[2] And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.

Put a knife — Restrain thine appetite, as if a man stood with a knife at thy throat.

Verse 3

[3] Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.

Deceitful — They do not yield thee that satisfaction which thou didst expect from them.

Verse 4

[4] Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Thine own wisdom — From worldly wisdom, which persuades men to use all possible means to get riches.

Verse 5

[5] Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Set thine eyes — Look upon it with earnestness and desire.

Is not — Which has no solid and settled being.

Eagle — Swiftly, strongly, and irrecoverably.

Verse 6

[6] Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:

Evil eye — Of the envious or covetous man.

Verse 7

[7] For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

So is he — You are not to judge of him by his words, but by the constant temper of his mind.

Verse 8

[8] The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

Vomit up — When thou perceivest his churlish disposition, his meat will be loathsome to thee.

Sweet words — Thy pleasant discourse wherewith thou didst design to delight and profit him.

Verse 9

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

Of a fool — Cast not away good counsels upon incorrigible sinners.

Verse 10

[10] Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Enter not — To possess their lands.

Verse 11

[11] For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

Redeemer — Heb. their near kinsman, to whom it belongs to avenge their wrongs, and to recover and maintain their rights.

Verse 13

[13] Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Shall not die — It is a likely way to prevent his destruction.

Verse 16

[16] Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.

My reins — I shall rejoice with all my soul.

Verse 18

[18] For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

An end — An expected and happy end for such as fear God.

Verse 19

[19] Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Guide — Order the whole course of thine affections and actions.

In the way — In God's way.

Verse 23

[23] Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding.

Buy — Purchase it upon any terms, spare no pains or cost.

Truth — The true and saving knowledge of God's will.

Sell it not — Do not forsake it for any worldly advantage.

Verse 26

[26] My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Give me — Solomon here speaks in God's name.

Verse 30

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

Mixt wine — Either mixed with water, or with other ingredients to make it strong and delicious.

Verse 31

[31] Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

Red — Which was the colour of the best wines in that country.

Aright — When it sparkles, and seems to smile upon a man.

Verse 34

[34] Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.

Lieth down — To sleep.

Sea — In a ship in the midst of the sea.

Verse 35

[35] They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

Sick — I was not sensible of it.

Again — At present my condition requires sleep to settle myself, and when I am composed, I purpose to return to my former course.