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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Proverbs 23

 

 

Verse 1

Proverbs 23:1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what [is] before thee:

Ver. 1. When thou sittest to eat.] See my Common Place of Abstinence.

Consider diligently what is before thee.] And "feed with fear," [ 1:12] lest thou lose by thy luxury that praise and preferment that thou hadst gotten by thine industry. [Proverbs 22:9]

‘Non minor est virtus quam quaerere parta tueri.’


Verse 2

Proverbs 23:2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou [be] a man given to appetite.

Ver. 2. And put a knife to thy throat.] Put into thy throat, as Aben Ezra reads it, rather than offend by inordinate appetite. Some read it thus: For thou puttest a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Thou shortenest thy life, and diggest, as it were, thine own grave with thine own teeth. Meat kills as many as the musket; the board as the sword. Tenuis mensa sanitatis mater: (a) but much meat, much malady.


Verse 3

Proverbs 23:3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they [are] deceitful meat.

Ver. 3. Be not desirous of his dainties.] It is a shame for a saint to be a slave to his palate. Isaac loved venison too, too well; the disciples are cautioned by Christ, [Luke 21:34] who well enough knew where they were weakest.

For they are deceitful meat.] There is a hook under that bait; it may prove as dangerous as Jonathan’s honey, of which he had no sooner tasted but his head was forfeited. There is a deceitfulness in sin, [Hebrews 3:13] a lie in vanity, [Jonah 2:8] transit voluptas, manet dolor - dolor est etiam ipsa voluptas.


Verse 4

Proverbs 23:4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

Ver. 4. Labour not to be rich.] The courtier is still at his lesson. Many have gotten into princes’ palaces, into places of profit, fat offices, mind nothing more than the feathering of their own nests, raising of their own houses, filling of their own coffers. Such were Shebna, Haman, Sejanus, of whom Tacitus makes this report: Palam compositus pudor, intus summa adipiscendi libido, that he made show of modesty, but was extremely covetous; insomuch, saith Seneca, (a) that he thought all to be lost that he got not for himself. How much better Joseph, Nehemiah, Daniel, &c., who, being wholly for the public, as they had nothing to lose, so they had as little to get, but were above all price or sale.

Cease from thine own wisdom.] Cast away that carnal policy that would prompt thee to get rem, rem, quocunque modo rem, wealth of any fashion. This wisdom is by St James fitly styled "earthly, sensual, devilish." "Earthly," managing the lusts of the eye to the ends of gain; "sensual," managing the lusts of the eye to the ends of pleasure; and "devilish," managing the pride of life unto ends of power (James 3:15, 1 John 2:14-15}


Verse 5

Proverbs 23:5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for [riches] certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Ver. 5. Wilt thou set thine eyes, &c.] Heb., Wilt thou cause thine eyes to flee after? &c. Wilt thou flee a fool’s pitch, and go hawking after that which cannot be had? or, if had, will not pay for the pains - countervail the cost? Wilt thou cast a leering look after such vanities?

Upon that which is not.] That hath no solid subsistence, though the foolish world call it substance. "The fashion of this world passeth away." [1 Corinthians 7:31] The Greek word there used, οχημα, intimateth that there is nothing of any firmness or solid consistence in the creature. Heaven only hath a foundation. [Hebrews 11:10] Earth hath none, but is "hanged upon nothing," as Job speaketh. "Ye rejoice in a thing of nought," saith the prophet to them that "drank wine in bowls," &c. [Amos 6:6; Amos 6:13]

For riches certainly make themselves wings.] As the heathens feigned of their god Pluto. Under these wings let the master hide himself, as Isaiah 28:15; yet with those wings will they fly away, without once taking leave, leaving nothing but the print of talons in his heart to torment him. Riches, saith one, were never true to those that trusted them. To fly from us they make themselves great eagles’ wings; to fly to us, or after us, Ne passerinas quidem, (a) not so much as old sparrows’ wings. Temporals, saith another, (b) are as transitory as a hasty headlong torrent - a shadow, a ship, a bird, an arrow, a post that passeth by; or if you can name anything of swifter wing or sooner gone.


Verse 6

Proverbs 23:6 Eat thou not the bread of [him that hath] an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:

Ver. 6. Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye.] That is, of a miserly muckworm, that wisheth thee choked for so doing, even then when he maketh greatest show of hospitality and humanity.


Verse 7

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so [is] he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart [is] not with thee.

Ver. 7. For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.] Mens cuiusque is est quisque: - The man is as his mind is; or as he thinketh in his heart, so he speaketh. He cannot so dissemble, but that soon he blurts out some word, or shows some sign of his sordid disposition. Some read it thus: For as he grudgeth his own soul, so he will say unto thee, Eat, drink, &c. As he starves his own genius, and cannot afford himself a good meal’s meat, so be grudgeth at his guests whom yet he bids welcome. Christ doth not so. [Song of Solomon 5:1]


Verse 8

Proverbs 23:8 The morsel [which] thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.

Ver. 8. The morsel which thou hast eaten.] That is, that which thou hast eaten, shall be so ill-sauced that thou shalt wish it up again, and thou shalt repent thee of thy compliments, or of whatsoever good speech thou hast used at table; which was the salt wherewith our Saviour used to sprinkle the dishes wherever he dined.


Verse 9

Proverbs 23:9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

Ver. 9. Speak not in the ears of a fool.] That is, of a wilful fool, that seldom asketh council, but never followeth any, as it is said of James, King of Scotland. (a) {See Trapp on "Proverbs 9:7"} {See Trapp on "Proverbs 9:8"} {See Trapp on "Matthew 7:6"}


Verse 10

Proverbs 23:10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless:

Ver. 10. Remove not the ancient landmark.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 22:28"}


Verse 11

Proverbs 23:11 For their redeemer [is] mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.

Ver. 11. For their Redeemer is mighty.] "The thunder of his power who can understand?" [Job 26:14] And "who knoweth the power of his wrath?" [Psalms 90:11] Oh, "contend not with him that is mightier than thou." [Ecclesiastes 6:10] God Almighty is. in a special manner the guardian of his orphans, and the great Master of the wards.


Verse 12

Proverbs 23:12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge.

Ver. 12. Apply thy heart unto instruction.] Make thine heart to come to it - though never so averse. Call in thy scattered thoughts, and busy them about the best things. Anima dispersa fit minor. This is the wise man’s counsel to the younger sort. But because sardis plerunque fabulam, few youths will be better advised; therefore he bespeaks their parents and tutors in the next words.


Verse 13

Proverbs 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.

Ver. 13. Withhold not correction from the child.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 13:24"}

He shall not die.] Or if he do, yet not by thy default. Thou hast delivered thine own soul howsoever. If a blackmore enter into the bath, though he become not white by it, yet the bath master hath his pay, saith Keyserspergius. The physician hath his fee whether the patient recover or die.


Verse 14

Proverbs 23:14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.

Ver. 14. And shall deliver his soul frown hell.] Fond and foolish parents are peremptores potius quam parentes, (a) rather parricides than parents; since Qui non, cum potest, servat, occidit, by not saving their children they slay them; by cockering then, in their sin they pitch them headlong into hell.


Verse 15

Proverbs 23:15 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.

Ver. 15. My son, if thine heart be wise.] Si vexatio det intellectum, if either by instruction or correction I may make thee wise or well spoken, Bonum virum, dicendi peritum - as Quintilian’s orator - totus laetitia dissiliam, I shall be a joyful man indeed. St John had no greater joy than to hear that his children walked in the truth. [3 John 1:4] And St Paul could never be thankful enough for such a mercy. [1 Thessalonians 3:9]

Even mine.] Or, Even as I - viz., was a comfort to my parents.


Verse 17

Proverbs 23:17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but [be thou] in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

Ver. 17. Let not thine heart envy sinners.] Who, have they never so much here, they have but a pension, an annuity; a state of life granted them in the utmost and most remote part of our inheritance.

But be thou in the fear of the Lord all day long.] An excellent means to cure one of the fret. Probatum est. Only it must be used constantly. Men must wake with God, walk with him, and lie down with him, be in continual communion with him and conformity unto him. This is to be in heaven beforehand.


Verse 18

Proverbs 23:18 For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.

Ver. 18. For surely there is an end,] viz., Of their pomp and prosperity. Dum faenea quadam felicitate temporaliter floreant, as Augustine (a) hath it: while as grass they flourish, and then deflourish.

And thine expectation shall not be cut off.] As the wicked shall. [Psalms 37:38] Cheer up, therefore, and do not despond: Flebile principium melior fortuna sequetur, as Queen Elizabeth was wont to say, while she was yet a prisoner, Then she envied the milkmaid that sang so merrily. But if she had known what a glorious reign she should have for four-and-forty years, she would not have envied her.


Verse 19

Proverbs 23:19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Ver. 19. Hear thou, my son, and be wise.] Hearing is one of the learned senses, as Aristotle calls it. Wisdom entereth into the soul by this door, as folly did at first, when the woman listened to the old serpent’s illusions. This sense is first up in the morning; and this preface the wise man purposely premiseth to his following discourse; as well knowing how hardly young men are drawn off from drinking matches and good fellow meetings,

And guide thine heart in the way.] That is to say, Let knowledge and affection be as twins, and run parallel; let them mutually transfuse life and vigour, the one into the other. Practise God’s will as fast as thou understandest it. The Tigurine translation reads it, Ut beatura sit in via cor tuum: That thine heart may be blessed in the way.


Verse 20

Proverbs 23:20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:

Ver. 20. Be not among wine-bibbers.] Follow not the custom nor company of such; thou knowest not what thou mayest be drawn to do, though of thyself averse to such evil courses. Noah got no good by the luxurious old world [Matthew 24:38] with whom he lived; nor Lot by the intemperate Sodomites. [Ezekiel 16:49] Uriah, a good man, was at length persuaded to drink to excess. [2 Samuel 11:13] "Let him that standeth take heed lest he fall." That evil servant that presumes to "eat and drink with the drunken," shall be cut off in the middle (a) [Matthew 24:49]

Among riotous eaters of flesh.] Among fleshmongers, qui crapulae indulgent, that pamper their paunches, In cute curanda plus aequo operati. See my Common Place of Abstinence. These are all for themselves, as Nabal was. Helluantur sibi carnem - so the Hebrew runs; They ravin up flesh for themselves.


Verse 21

Proverbs 23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe [a man] with rags.

Ver. 21. For the drunkard shall come to poverty.] Nay, to eternal misery in hell; [1 Corinthians 6:10] but few men fear that; beggary they hold worse than any hell. Per mare pauperiem fugiunt, per saxa, per ignes. (a) But poverty to such is but a prelude to a worse matter.


Verse 22

Proverbs 23:22 Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old.

Ver. 22. Hearken to thy father, &c.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 1:8"}

And despise not thy mother when she is old,] Dr Taylor, martyr, said to his son, among other things, when he was to suffer: When thy mother is waxed old, forsake her not, but provide for her to thy power, and see that she lack nothing; for so will God bless thee, and give thee long life upon earth, and prosperity. (a)


Verse 23

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

Ver. 23. Buy the truth and sell it not.] Every parcel of truth is precious, as the filings of gold, as the bezar stone, when beaten, are carefully looked to and preserved. "Hold fast the faithful word," as with both hands. [Titus 1:9] "Strive together for the faith of the gospel." [Philippians 1:27] Be zealous for it; [ 1:3] η ταν η επι ταν, Either live with it, or die for it. As we have received it as a legacy from our forefathers (who sealed it with their blood, and paid dear for it), so we must transmit it to our posterity pure and entire, whatever it stands us in. They were so religious that they would not exchange a letter or syllable of the faith wherewith Christ had be trusted them. (a) So zealous in buying the truth, that they would give five marks and more for a good book - and that was more money than ten pound is now. Some gave a load of hay for a few chapters of St James or of St Paul in English, sitting up all night in reading and hearing, &c. (b) What a deal of charge was the Queen of Sheba at for Solomon’s wisdom! The wise merchant for the pearl of price! Jerome and Reuchlin for their Hebrew learning! Pro singulis horis singulos aureos numerabant. Reuchlin gave a crown an hour to the Jew that read to him. Jerome ventured his life to visit by night to a Jewish doctor. See Matthew 13:44.


Verse 24

Proverbs 23:24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise [child] shall have joy of him.

Ver. 24. The father of the righteous, &c.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 10:1"}


Verse 26

Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.

Ver. 26. My son, give me thy heart.] There is a strange strife, not of earthly, but of spiritual powers, after the possession of man’s heart; and through man’s transgression Satan hath gotten strong hold thereon. [Acts 5:3 Luke 22:3] Once he strove about a dead man’s body; [ 1:9] but doubtless his purpose was therein to have set up an idol for himself in the hearts of the living. If Satan can get the heart, he is safe; and so is Satan’s vicar. It was a watchword in Pope Gregory XIII’s time, in Queen Elizabeth’s days, My son, give me thy heart; be in heart a Papist, and then go to church, dissemble, do what ye will. Among the heathens, when the beast was cut up for sacrifice, the first thing the priest looked upon was the heart; and if the heart were naught, the sacrifice was rejected. As among the Jews Philo observeth, that the heart, and the horns, or brains were never offered with the sacrifices; for they are the fountains and secret cells wherein lurks, and out of which flows, all impiety. But whatever was in the type, this is in the truth. As the heart is by nature, the Lord will have none of it; yet till the heart be renewed and given to the Lord, he will accept nothing that can come from man. [Isaiah 29:13; Isaiah 66:3 Jeremiah 42:20] Of the heart God seems to say to us, as Joseph did to his brethren concerning Benjamin, "Ye shall not see my face without it." [Genesis 43:3] The heart is Christ’s bed of spices, [Song of Solomon 6:2] wherein he delights, [Psalms 51:17] and for which he wisheth, "O that there were such an heart," &c. [Deuteronomy 5:29]

And let thine eyes observe my ways.] Look well to thy pattern, so fairly pencilled out unto thee; take true stitches out of this perfect sampler; take right strokes after this incomparable copy. The Hebrew here hath it, Let thine eyes run through my ways. Get a full prospect of them, and diligently peruse them. Fix and feed thine eyes upon the best objects, and restrain them from gazing upon forbidden beauties, lest they prove to be windows of wickedness, and loopholes of lust.


Verse 27

Proverbs 23:27 For a whore [is] a deep ditch; and a strange woman [is] a narrow pit.

Ver. 27. For an whore is a deep ditch.] Fitly so called, quod nullus neque modus neque finis sit in amore meritricio, because lust is boundless, bottomless. He is a perfect slave that serves a whore. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 22:14"}


Verse 28

Proverbs 23:28 She also lieth in wait as [for] a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.

Ver. 28. She also lieth in wait.] Terence calls harlots Cruces crumenimulgas, sordida poscinummia, &c., base beg pennies, pick purses, &c. See the notes upon Proverbs 7:1-27. {See Trapp on "Proverbs 7:1"} &c

And increaseth the transgressors among men.] Nothing hath ever so enriched hell as the whorish woman. See above.


Verse 29

Proverbs 23:29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?

Ver. 29. Who hath woe? who hath sorrow?] Whoredom is usually ushered in by drunkenness. Est Venus in vinis. It is Venus in the wines. Hence, [Revelation 17:4] the whore cometh forth with a "cup," as with an instrument fit for the fulfilling of her lust; even as of old every one did openly bear in his hand at Rome the badge of that art that he professed. Solomon therefore having warned his young nobleman of whoredom, fitly shows him next the mischief of drunkenness; and this he doth by way of admiration or interrogation, that the drunkard may (will he, nill he) see, as in a glass, and so abhor his own absurdities, miseries, and mischiefs. The best that can come of drunkenness is repentance - that fairest daughter of so foul a mother - and that is not without its woe, and, alas! its sorrow and redness of eyes with weeping for sin. But few drunkards are taken in that fault.

Who hath babbling?] A great deal of small talk, telling all that’s within.

‘Condita cum verax aperit praecordia liber.’ - Horat.

When the wine is in, the wit is out.

Who hath redness of eyes?] Oculorum suffusio, the Vulgate reads suffossio. Drunkards have usually red and rich faces. Nasos instar coctilis cancri, (a) Noses like a boiled lobster; plenty of pustulaes or quots, as they call them. Briefly, drunkenness, like another Africa, is never without some new monster of mischief.


Verse 30

Proverbs 23:30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

Ver. 30. They that tarry long at the wine.] These men do not want time, but waste it. Pliny, if he were alive, would surely say to such, as once he did to his nephew, Poteras has horas non perdidisse, Thou mightest have spent thy time much better. How may those winebibbers more justly lament their loss than good Bernard did, and say each man for himself, Totum vitae meae tempus perdidi, quia perdite vixi!


Verse 31

Proverbs 23:31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, [when] it moveth itself aright.

Ver. 31. Look not thou upon the wine.] Many men die of the wound in the eye. It is not unlawful to look; but because of looking comes lusting, therefore laws are to be laid upon our looks; Vitiis nobis in animum per oculos est via, saith Quintilian. If we do not let in sin at the window of the eye, or by the door of the ear, it cannot enter into our hearts.

When it moveth itself aright.] When it sparkles, and is vinum cos (as they call the best wine at Paris, and Louvain) that is, Vinum coloris, odoris, saporis, optimi, Wine of the best colour, smell, and savour. (a)


Verse 32

Proverbs 23:32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

Ver. 32. At the last it biteth like a serpent.] Lo, such is the guilt of sin, such the end and effect of drunkenness - torments here, and tortures in hell.


Verse 33

Proverbs 23:33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.

Ver. 33. Thine eyes shall behold strange women.] {See Trapp on "Proverbs 23:29"} Venter aestuans mero, spumat in libidinem, saith Jerome. A belly filled with wine, foameth out filthiness. Wine is the milk of Venus, (a) saith another. Drunkenness is the gallery that lechery walketh through, saith a third. (b)

Thine heart shall utter perverse things.] Preposterous, distorted, dislocated matters: soliciting thy neighbour’s wife to wickedness; or otherwise vomiting out that which God hateth, and godly men abhor.


Verse 34

Proverbs 23:34 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.

Ver. 34. Yea, thou shalt be as he, &c.] Thy brains shall crow, and thou shalt be of Copernicus his opinion, that the earth turns round. Thou shalt also be fearless of the greatest danger, and not refuse to sleep upon a mast pole, dance upon a weather cock, &c.


Verse 35

Proverbs 23:35 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.

Ver. 35. They have stricken me.] A drunken man, we say, takes no hurt, feels no smart, is turned into a very stock. Dionysius the Heracleot felt not needles thrust into his fat belly. Pliny mentioneth certain bears, that being sound asleep, cannot be wakened with the sharpest prickles. Mathiolus (a) reports of the asses of Etruria, that, feeding upon henbane, (b) they fall into such a dead sleep, that being taken for dead, they are half hideled, (c) ere they can be aroused. Lo, such is the drunkard’s lethargy; neither is he more insensible than sensual and irrecoverable.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Proverbs 23:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/proverbs-23.html. 1865-1868.

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Monday, September 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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