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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 23

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

Verse 1


(1) Consider diligently what is before thee,—Rather, Who is before thee; that thy host is not an equal, but one who, if offended, might do thee deadly harm.

Verse 2

(2) And put a knife to thy throat.—Use the strongest methods to keep thine appetite in check, if thou art likely to give way to it, and then, overcome by meat and drink, to say or do anything to offend thy host.

Verse 3

(3) Deceitful meat.—Not offered out of friendship and love to thee; for an unguarded word spoken in the insecurity of the festive hour might bring ruin to thee.

Verse 4

(4) Cease from thine own wisdom.—Cleverness shewn in piling up wealth.

Verse 5

(5) They fly away.—Rather, As an eagle that flieth toward heaven, far beyond thy reach.

Verse 6

(6) Him that hath an evil eye.—A sordid, grudging temper.

Verse 7

(7) For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.—He is not really friendly and hospitable, as his words would imply, but he grudges every morsel thou takest, calculating its cost.

Verse 8

(8) Shalt thou vomit up.—Shalt be disgusted at having partaken of hospitality which was not freely offered to thee.

And lose thy sweet words.—All thy civil speeches and thanks for the cold welcome thou hast had.

Verse 9

(9) Speak not in the ears of a fool.—Do not waste thy time in explaining matters to him.

A fool.—A dull, stupid person. (Comp. Proverbs 1:22.)

Verse 10

(10) Remove not the old landmark.—See above, on Proverbs 22:28.

Verse 11

(11) Their redeemer is mighty.—They may have no near kinsman (Leviticus 25:25) to redeem their land, yet they have a mighty Deliverer (Exodus 6:6), who will redress their wrongs.

Verse 13

(13) He shall not diei.e., a moderate correction, such as that advised in Proverbs 19:18 (see note), will not injure him—quite the reverse.

Verse 14

(14) And shalt deliver his soul from hell—i.e., Hades, the abode of the dead (Isaiah 14:9), death being the punishment of sin, and long life the reward of well-doing (Proverbs 3:2).

Verse 16

(16) My reins shall rejoice.—These being represented in Hebrew poetry as the seat of the deepest affections, answering to “heart” in Proverbs 23:15. (Comp. Psalms 7:9; Jeremiah 12:2; Revelation 2:23.)

Verse 18

(18) An end, which shall be peace (Psalms 37:37), corresponding to the “manifestation of the sons of God “(Romans 8:19), when we shall be “like” God (1 John 3:2).

Verse 19

(19) Hear thou, my son, whatever others may do. (Comp. above, on Proverbs 22:19.)

Guide thine heart in the way.—That is, of God. (Comp. Isaiah 40:3, and note on Acts 9:2.)

Verse 21

(21) Drowsiness, that follows after such debauches.

Verse 23

(23) Buy the truth, and sell it not.—The “truth” is here described under the three heads of wisdom, self-discipline, and understanding. (See above, on Proverbs 1:2.) All these are to be obtained from God (James 1:5), who gives to every man “liberally,” “without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). (Comp. Revelation 3:18, and the “treasure” and “pearl of great price” of Matthew 13:44-46.)

Verse 26

(26) My son, give me thine heart.—For that is the one gift alone worthy of acceptance which man can offer to God, and the only one which God will accept; an offering which man endeavours to keep for himself, substituting for it alms, unreal prayers, outward observances of religion, and obedience in matters of little moment. (Comp. Matthew 22:37.)

Verse 27

(27) Strange woman (nokhriyyah).—See above, on Proverbs 2:16.

Verse 28

(28) Increaseth the transgressors (faithless) among men.—This vice being the fruitful source of faithlessness both towards man and God.

Verse 29

(29) Wounds without cause?—Which might have been avoided, and which serve no good end.

Redness of eyes?—Rather, dimness.

Verse 30

(30) They that go to seek mixed wine.—Or, To test; to see whether it is to their taste. The wines of the ancients were not generally drunk pure, but diluted with water or flavoured with spices. (See above on Proverbs 9:2.)

Verse 31

(31) When it giveth its colour.—Or sparkles.

When it moveth itself aright.—Or, when it glides easily down the throat.

Verse 33

(33) Thine eyes shall behold strange women.—i.e., look out for them, impurity being the constant attendant of drunkenness. Or, the word may be translated “strange things,” referring to the strange fancies of a drunkard, the horrible and fantastic visions present to his disordered brain.

Perverse things.—His notions of right and wrong being completely distorted.

Verse 34

(34) As he that lieth down in the midst of the sea.—And so would inevitably be drowned if he trusted to its smooth, glassy appearance.

As he that lieth upon the top of a mast.—Whom every roll of the ship might hurl into the waves. The absolute insensibility of the drunkard to danger is here described. Or it may mean that everything round the drunkard and the ground on which he lies, seem to rock like the waves of the sea, or the masthead of a ship.

Verse 35

(35) They have stricken me, and I was not sick.—The drunken man feels no blows or ill usage.

When shall I awake?—He longs to rouse himself from his slumber that he may return to his debauch.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Proverbs 23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/proverbs-23.html. 1905.
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