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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 23

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


Sobriety in eating and drinking, especially at the tables of

the great. Have no fellowship with the covetous. Remove not the

ancient landmark. Children should receive due correction. Avoid

the company of wine-bibbers. Obedience to parents. Avoid lewd

connections. The effect of an unfeeling conscience.


Verse Proverbs 23:1. When thou sittest to eat with a ruler — When invited to the table of thy betters, eat moderately. Do not appear as if half starved at home. Eat not of delicacies to which thou art not accustomed; they are deceitful meat; they please, but they do not profit. They are pleasant to the sight, the taste, and the smell; but they are injurious to health. These are prudential cautions; and should be carefully observed by all who would avoid the conduct of a clown, and desire to pass for a well-bred man.

Verse 2

Verse Proverbs 23:2. Put a knife to thy throat — Repress thy appetite, and do not be incontinent of speech. Eat, drink, and converse, under a check.

Verse 4

Verse Proverbs 23:4. Labour not to be rich — Let not this be thy object. Labour to provide things honest in the sight of God and all men; and if thou get wealth, do not forget the poor, else God's curse will be a canker even in thy gold.

Cease from thine own wisdom. — בינתך binathecha, thy own understanding or prudence. The world says, "Get rich if thou canst, and how thou canst." Rem, si possis, recte; si non, quocunque modo rem; "Get a fortune honestly if thou canst; but if not, get one at all events." This is the devil's counsel, and well it is followed; but Solomon says, and God says, "Cease from thine own counsel." Thou hast an immortal soul, and shalt shortly appear before God. Lay up treasure for heaven, and be rich towards God.

Verse 6

Verse Proverbs 23:6. Of him that hath an evil eye — Never eat with a covetous or stingy man; if he entertains you at his own expense, he grudges every morsel you put in your mouth. This is well marked by the wise man in the next verse: "Eat and drink, saith he: but his heart is not with thee."

Verse 8

Verse Proverbs 23:8. The morsel which thou hast eaten — On reflection thou wilt even blame thyself for having accepted his invitation.

Verse 10

Verse Proverbs 23:10. Remove not the old landmark — See the preceding chapter, Proverbs 22:28.

Enter not into the fields of the fatherless — Take nothing that belongs to an orphan. The heaviest curse of God will fall upon them that do so.

Verse 11

Verse Proverbs 23:11. For their redeemer is mighty — גאלם goalam, their kinsman. The word means the person who has a right, being next in blood, to redeem a field or estate, alienated from the family, to avenge the blood of a murdered relative, by slaying the murderer; and to take to wife a brother's widow, who had died childless, in order to preserve the family. The strength here mentioned refers to the justness of his claim, the extent of his influence, and the powerful abettors of such a cause. But in reference to the orphans here mentioned, they having no kinsman, God takes up, vindicates, and avenges their cause.

Verse 14

Verse Proverbs 23:14. Thou shalt beat him with the rod — A proper correction of children was a favourite point of discipline with Solomon. We have already seen how forcibly he speaks on this subject. See the notes on the places referred to in the margin.

Verse 18

Verse Proverbs 23:18. Surely there is an end — יש אחרית yesh acharith, there is another life; "and thy expectation" of the enjoyment of a blessed immortality "shall not be cut off." The Old MS. Bible reads thus: For thou schalt hav hop in the last: and thin abiiding schal not ben taken awei. "For the ende is not yet come; and thy pacient abydinge shal not be in vayne." - COVERDALE.

Verse 20

Verse Proverbs 23:20. Be not among winebibbers — There is much of this chapter spent in giving directions concerning eating, drinking, and entertainments in general.

First, the pupil is directed relative to the manner in which he is to conduct himself in his visits to the tables of the rich and great.

2. Relative to the covetous, and his intercourse with them. And

3. To public entertainments, where there were generally riot and debauch. The reasons, says Calmet, which induced the wise man to give these directions were,

1. The useless expense.

2. The loss of time.

3. The danger from bad company. And

4. The danger of contracting irregular habits, and of being induced to lead a voluptuous and effeminate life.

Verse 22

Verse Proverbs 23:22. Despise not thy mother when she is old. — A very necessary caution, as very old women are generally helpless, useless, and burdensome: yet these circumstances do not at all lessen the child's duty. And this duty is strengthened by the Divine command here given.

Verse 23

Verse Proverbs 23:23. Buy the truth — Acquire the knowledge of God at all events; and in order to do this, too much pains, industry, and labour cannot be expended.

And sell it not — When once acquired, let no consideration deprive thee of it. Cleave to and guard it, even at the risk of thy life. Coverdale translates: "Labour for to get the treuth; sell not awaye wissdome."

Verse 26

Verse Proverbs 23:26. My son, give me thine heart — This is the speech of God to every human soul; give thy affections to God, so as to love him with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.

And let thine eyes observe my ways. — Be obedient to me in all things. My son, thou believest that I AM, and that I AM the Fountain of all good. Give me thy heart; it is I alone who can make thee happy. Observe my ways-follow me; do what is right in my sight. This exhortation contains three words: BELIEVE LOVE, OBEY! This is the sum of God's counsels to every child of man.

Verse 27

Verse Proverbs 23:27. For a whore is a deep ditch — See on Proverbs 22:14.

Verse 28

Verse Proverbs 23:28. Increaseth the transgressors among men. — More iniquity springs from this one source of evil, than from any other cause in the whole system of sin. Women and strong drink cause many millions to transgress.

Verse 29

Verse Proverbs 23:29. Who hath wo? — I believe Solomon refers here to the natural effects of drunkenness. And perhaps אוי oi, which we translate wo, and אבוי aboi, which we translate sorrow, are mere natural sounds or vociferations that take place among drunken men, either from illness, or the nauseating effects of too much liquor. As to contentions among such; babblings on a variety of subjects, which they neither understand nor are fit to discuss; wounds, got by falling out about nothing; and red eyes, bloodshotten with excess of drink, or black and blue eyes with fighting; - these are such common and general effects of these compotations, as naturally to follow from them. So that they who tarry long at wine, and use mixed wine to make it more inebriating, (see Proverbs 9:2,) are the very persons who are most distinguished by the circumstances enumerated above. I need scarcely add, that by wine and mixed wine all inebriating liquors are to be understood.

Verse 31

Verse Proverbs 23:31. Look not thou upon the wine — Let neither the colour, the odour, the sparkling, &c., of the wine, when poured out, induce thee to drink of it. However good and pure it may be, it will to thee be a snare, because thou art addicted to it, and hast no self-command.

Verse 33

Verse Proverbs 23:33. Thine eyes shall behold strange women — Evil concupiscence is inseparable from drunkenness. Mr. Herbert shows these effects well: -

He that is drunken may his mother kill,

Big with his sister: he hath lost the reins;

Is outlawed by himself. All kinds of ill

Did, with his liquor, slide into his veins.

The drunkard forfeits man; and doth divest

All worldly right, save what he hath by beast.

HERBERT'S Poems. - The Church Porch.

Verse 34

Verse Proverbs 23:34. Lieth down in the midst of the sea — He is utterly regardless of life; which is expressed very forcibly by one in a state of intoxication ascending the shrouds, clasping the mast-head, and there falling asleep; whence, in a few moments, he must either fall down upon the deck and be dashed to pieces, or fall into the sea and be drowned. Reader, if thou be a man given to this appetite, put a knife to thy throat.

Verse 35

Verse Proverbs 23:35. They have stricken me — Though beat and abused, full of pain, and exhibiting a frightful figure; yet so drunk was he, as to be insensible who had struck him: still, after all this abuse and disgrace, he purposes to embrace the next opportunity of repeating his excesses! SIN makes a man contemptible in life, miserable in death, and wretched to all eternity. Is it not strange, then, that men should LOVE it?

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Proverbs 23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/proverbs-23.html. 1832.
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