Proverbs
1-3 Dining with a Ruler 4-5 Wealth Has Wings 6-8 Hypocritical Hospitality 9 Don’t Waste Wise Words on a Fool 10-11 Honoring the Property of the Powerless 12 A Renewed Call to Listen 13-14 Discipline Is Necessary 15-16 Wisdom Causes Gladness 17-18 The Fear of the LORD Gives Hope 19 Again the Call to Listen 20-21 Bad Company 22-25 Honor and Rejoice Your Father and Mother 26-28 Two Ways 29-35 The Disastrous Consequences of Drunkenness
Dining with a Ruler

1When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
2And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of [great] appetite.
3Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.

Solomon warns his son to consider when he is invited by a ruler to dine with him (verse 11When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
). He may be flattered to be invited by the ruler. He may also be deceived by the richly filled table with the delicious food that makes one’s mouth water at the sight of it. But he should not look at ‘what’ is set before him, but at “who” is before him, the ruler.

With that in mind, he should ‘put a knife to his throat’ (verse 22And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of [great] appetite.
). That especially applies when he is “a man of great appetite”. Eating delicious food is not wrong, but the lust for it is. The food that is before him looks very attractive. Added to this, is that he is hungry and would immediately want to start eating. The father knows the risk of one losing his control and starting to eat greedily. In that case one is a double prisoner. He is a prisoner of his greed and a prisoner of the ruler. He didn’t control himself in the presence of the ruler.

Therefore the admonition to the son is that he ‘should put a knife to his throat’, which means as much as ‘control your appetite’ or ‘control yourself’. It implies that you threaten your gluttony with death. The admonition is that you’d better put a knife to your throat than into the meat on the table. It comes down to what the Bible calls self-judgment. The Lord Jesus calls on us to do that when He speaks about tearing out the eye and cutting off the hand, as soon as we are tempted to do something bad or to look at something bad (Mt 5:29-3029If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.30If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.; 18:8-98“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.9If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.; 1Cor 9:24-2724Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but [only] one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then [do it] to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;27but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.).

The reason for the warning and admonition of verses 1-21When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
Consider carefully what is before you,
2And put a knife to your throat
If you are a man of [great] appetite.
is given in verse 33Do not desire his delicacies,
For it is deceptive food.
. The “delicacies” are a bait to make him do something for him or to get some information from him or to ensure himself of his help. Therefore, he should not have desire for them, “for it is deceptive food”. He is not invited for the meal because he is such an important person, but it is to get him in a good mood so that he can make him do something for him. So there are selfish motives behind the invitation.

Therefore he, as it is said, should not consider what (tasty food) is before him, but who is before him. Because Eve did not consider who was before her and only considered what was before her, sin came into the world (Gen 3:1-61Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”2The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;3but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”4The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!5For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make [one] wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.). Because we are not better and it is also for us a great temptation to accept such an invitation and start to consume such a meal with great appetite, it is necessary that we pray for protection, like David did (Psa 141:44Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,
To practice deeds of wickedness
With men who do iniquity;
And do not let me eat of their delicacies.
).

We can also apply ‘deceptive food’ to false teachings on God’s Word. False teachers can present their false teachings about God in a ‘tasty’ way. It sounds for instance very attractive that God is love and that He would not be so merciless to send someone to hell so that he will be in eternal torment. This false teaching is very ‘tasty’ to many people who in that way take into their heart the false teaching of the ‘universalism’ through which they are getting poisoned in their mind.


Wealth Has Wings

4Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration [of it].
5When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.

For [wealth] certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies [toward] the heavens.
Wealth has the same attraction as the food on the table of a ruler in the previous verses. Wealth is as deceptive as the food on the table of the ruler. Therefore wealth is also to be dealt with very carefully. The warning is that one should not weary himself to gain wealth (verse 44Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,
Cease from your consideration [of it].
). He who wearies himself for it, will be ensnared by it and be controlled by it. So it is about desiring to gain wealth. He who desires to gain wealth, runs great risks (1Tim 6:9-109But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.10For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.).

We can imagine that the son is young and ambitious. He has many capacities and sees a lot of challenges. But the father tells him that he should not use his “consideration” to summarize all kinds of profits that make wealth worthy of making efforts. Let him cease to search for good reasons to do something that is bad.

The reality is that just as quick as his “eyes are set on” the wealth, it also “flies” away (verse 55When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.). Solomon uses a play of words with the word fly. The eyes fly and wealth flies. Just as quick as the eyes fly, wealth quickly flies away. Wealth flies with the speed of “an eagle that flies to heaven”. You are the loser, without any possibility to take back the wealth. A wrong speculation, a bank that goes bankrupt, a thief that robs, and you lose your whole fortune at once.

The warning that Solomon gives his son and makes us hear, is not a warning against diligence and zeal, but against the love for money, against materialism with its dangers, the greed for more prosperity. It is better to use our power to collect treasures in heaven (Mt 6:19-2019“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;). We could also better, in following Paul, give all our powers to the work for the Lord. By setting our priorities, we show what we use our ‘considerations’ for.


Hypocritical Hospitality

6Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
7For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you,
“Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
8You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.

It is a mistake to accept the hospitality of a greedy man (verse 66Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
). You can watch him being angry at every bite that you take. The literal translation of “a selfish man” is ‘an evil eye’ – see the contrast with “he who is generous” (Pro 22:99He who is generous will be blessed,
For he gives some of his food to the poor.
), which is someone with a ‘bountiful eye’; see the comment on Proverbs 22:9. This miser is uncivilized and inhospitable. You shouldn’t desire to eat with him from “his delicacies”, however much it makes your mouth water when you see the menu. There is really nothing delicious about eating with such a person.

The man you’re eating with is not what he pretends to be (verse 77For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you,
“Eat and drink!”
But his heart is not with you.
). While you’re eating, he is calculating what the expenses are for what you’re eating. It burns a hole in his riches. He may invite you to “eat and drink”, but not with great joy; he doesn’t really mean it; he is stingy. He is doing it reluctantly. Inwardly, he is not connected with you, while a meal should actually express fellowship, shouldn’t it? He pays more attention to how much you eat – and in that way he is calculating how much it costs him – rather than whether you enjoy it.

As the meal goes on, the face of the host is clouding over, which causes your appetite to become less (verse 88You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.
). His lack of sincerity will finally destroy your appetite in such a way that you spit everything out that you have already eaten. And oh, how much will you regret your pleasant words. You have expressed your appreciation about the invitation and praised your host for his good taste. But it has all been a waste, for the man seems to be a miser who has only been watching you with a grudge while you were eating.


Don’t Waste Wise Words on a Fool

9Do not speak in the hearing of a fool,
For he will despise the wisdom of your words.

It is absolutely no use speaking wise words to an incorrigible fool. It is not because he would not understand what you are saying, nor is it because he would listen badly or that he would not even listen. It is much worse. It is not a matter of ignorance or misconduct, but of despising such words. A fool despises wisdom and therefore it is a waste of time trying to say anything prudent to him.

Words of wisdom will be considered by him as a correction and therefore an attack on his engagements. In that way he refuses to be confronted in any way. He will reveal himself as an enemy to it and turn himself against you.

What Solomon says here to his son, is in accordance with what the Lord Jesus says to His disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces” (Mt 7:66“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.).


Honoring the Property of the Powerless

10Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
11For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.

Again the wisdom teacher points out to respect the rights of others concerning their property (verse 1010Do not move the ancient boundary
Or go into the fields of the fatherless,
; Pro 22:2828Do not move the ancient boundary
Which your fathers have set.
). This time he warns against the moving of the “ancient boundary” that has set the boundaries clear of the area of the fatherless. He who moves them, commits a breach on their property. “Do not go into the fields of the fatherless” means that nobody is allowed to go into the fields with hostile intentions, that is with the intention to move the boundary and in that way to rob a part of their fields.

Verse 1111For their Redeemer is strong;
He will plead their case against you.
makes clear why it is wise not to commit land robbery and certainly not of the powerless orphans. Whoever does that, will have to deal with Someone Who defends those who have no earthly father whom they can rely on and who defends them. They have a “Redeemer” Who is “strong” (Jer 50:3434“Their Redeemer is strong, the LORD of hosts is His name;
He will vigorously plead their case
So that He may bring rest to the earth,
But turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon.
).

He will plead their case and plead against their offenders by bringing them to trial and judging them. He is Goel, the Savior, the Helper (Psa 10:1414You have seen [it], for You have beheld mischief and vexation to take it into Your hand.
The unfortunate commits [himself] to You;
You have been the helper of the orphan.
), for those who cannot rely on anyone for help (Job 19:2525“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
). Widows and orphans stand as the powerless ones under the direct care of God (Psa 68:55A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
Is God in His holy habitation.
; 82:33Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
; 146:99The LORD protects the strangers;
He supports the fatherless and the widow,
But He thwarts the way of the wicked.
; Hos 14:44I will heal their apostasy,
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from them.
).


A Renewed Call to Listen

12Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.

This proverb or admonition addressed to the son is again an introductive admonition and reminds him of the way in which many sections in the first main section, Proverbs 1-9, begin (Pro 1:88Hear, my son, your father’s instruction
And do not forsake your mother’s teaching;
; 2:11My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
; 3:11My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
; 4:11Hear, [O] sons, the instruction of a father,
And give attention that you may gain understanding,
; 5:11My son, give attention to my wisdom,
Incline your ear to my understanding;
; 6:2020My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the teaching of your mother;
; 7:11My son, keep my words
And treasure my commandments within you.
; 8:1-61Does not wisdom call,
And understanding lift up her voice?
2On top of the heights beside the way
Where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
3Beside the gates, at the opening to the city,
At the entrance of the doors, she cries out:
4“To you, O men, I call,
And my voice is to the sons of men.
5“O naive ones, understand prudence;
And, O fools, understand wisdom.6“Listen, for I will speak noble things;
And the opening of my lips [will reveal] right things.
). Also the section of the words of the wise begins with it (Pro 22:1717Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge;
). The son must open his heart for admonition and listen well to the knowledge that is given by his father and mother. It is an activity that is expected from the son.

“Apply” is a deed, an activity which is asked. One should apply it himself. Thereby it is not about a physical movement, but his heart and ear should apply. Thus it is not patiently waiting to see whether something happens, a certain feeling or such. The heart and the ear should turn away from everything with which they are occupied in order to devote themselves to the teaching of wisdom.


Discipline Is Necessary

13Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
14You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.

After the word has been addressed to the son in verse 1212Apply your heart to discipline
And your ears to words of knowledge.
, the word is addressed now to the parents in verses 13-1413Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
14You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.
. Up to now there have been two admonitions about the use of a rod for correction (Pro 13:2424He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.
; 22:1515Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
) and one reference for not using it with a possible consequence of death (Pro 19:1818Discipline your son while there is hope,
And do not desire his death.
). Now both kinds of admonitions are brought together.

When a son, a young man, commits a kind of disobedience, he should be admonished (verse 1313Do not hold back discipline from the child,
Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
). That can happen orally, but sometimes it is necessary that he not only hears, but also feels that he has been disobedient. Then he has to be struck with the rod. It has been noticed earlier (see comment at Pro 22:1515Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
), that one should not just simply beat. It is the intention that he is to be confronted with his sin in a painful way. Sin always causes pain. He will not die from it, but on the contrary remain to live, which means in the life as God has intended and which gives the greatest satisfaction.

The application of physical discipline must be done by the parent himself (verse 1414You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.
). He should not leave it to someone else. By disciplining him, the parent indicates that he is personally involved with the well-being of his son. He does not discipline him because he is better. He himself also needed that discipline and it had benefited him.

It is not cruel to strike the young man with the rod; on the contrary it is cruel not to. A child that has never been disciplined becomes in most cases unmanageable in his contact with others. He who has never felt the pain of the rod of correction, is often cruel, without any compassion towards others. He will end in death, in Sheol and in eternal pain. He will die prematurely as a result of a lack of education. The use of the rod of correction could have saved his life from it and he could have lived a valuable and blissful life.


Wisdom Causes Gladness

15My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
16And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.

The verses 15-1615My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
16And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.
continue with the subject of the two previous verses. The choice that a child makes is just as important as the discipline of the parents. The discipline saves his life, but he has to do something with his life. The greatest care of the father is that he teaches him wisdom. The admonition with the use of the rod is a part of it.

The father tells his son that his heart will rejoice when the heart of his son is wise (verse 1515My son, if your heart is wise,
My own heart also will be glad;
). He has done his best to teach him wisdom and thereby used the rod in case it was necessary. It is now the son’s turn to speak. What a joy will it be for the heart of the father when his son demonstrates to have a wise heart by making good choices. The wise heart of the son causes his father to have a glad heart. There is a unity of heart. A son only has a wise heart when he lives in fellowship with God. The father emphasizes the gladness of his father’s heart by adding “my own heart”.

Beside the wise choices that the son makes, it also seems that his heart is wise because he speaks with his lips “what is right” (verse 1616And my inmost being will rejoice
When your lips speak what is right.
). He will speak in a right way about subjects that are important and in that way deliver an essential contribution to the realization of a plan or the solution of a problem. His words also demonstrate wisdom and understanding in the complexity of life. That wisdom and that understanding do not come from below, but from above (Jam 3:13,1713Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.17But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.). It is wisdom which “is vindicated by all her children” (Lk 7:3535Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”), which means that wisdom becomes apparent in the life of these children, from what they show and hear.

The father cannot control his joy when he hears his son speaking like that. He expresses his deep joy about it by talking about “the rejoicing” of his “inmost”. The inmost, symbolically represents, together with the heart, the deepest, the most inward emotions (cf. Job 19:2727Whom I myself shall behold,
And whom my eyes will see and not another.
My heart faints within me!
; Psa 7:99O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.
; 16:77I will bless the LORD who has counseled me;
Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.
; 26:22Examine me, O LORD, and try me;
Test my mind and my heart.
; Jer 11:2020But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously,
Who tries the feelings and the heart,
Let me see Your vengeance on them,
For to You have I committed my cause.
). This equals what the old apostle John says, that he “was very glad”, that it is his deepest joy, when he hears that his (spiritual) children “walk in the truth” (2Jn 1:44I was very glad to find [some] of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment [to do] from the Father.; cf. 1Thes 2:19-2019For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?20For you are our glory and joy.).

What makes us glad as parents? Is it when we can show them off because of their nice diplomas, their good position in society or even in the church? When they are healthy and talented? Those things are not wrong, but if that is our joy, we are a level too low. The only thing that should be important is that they have a living relationship with the Lord and that they live out of that relationship. That gives a joy that never disappears.


The Fear of the LORD Gives Hope

17Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But [live] in the fear of the LORD always.
18Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

The verses 17-1817Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But [live] in the fear of the LORD always.
18Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
tell about a risk that threatens the youngster which can make him to forsake wisdom, but they also tell him in which way he can keep it and what it delivers to him. When he lets his heart envy sinners (verse 1717Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But [live] in the fear of the LORD always.
), wisdom will be driven out. Wisdom remains in the heart, only if in it “[lives] … the fear of the LORD always”.

In the second line of the verse no verb is used – the word ‘live’ is between brackets – which means that the thought of the first line of the verse continues. The thought is that the first line of the verse warns the son about not to being jealous of the sinners and the second line of the verse exhorts him to be jealous about the fear of the LORD. The contrast is between a wrong and a good jealousy. The wrong jealousy is sin, the good jealousy is a spiritual exercise.

Being jealous of the sinners is the result of a comparison between what they have and what he can perform or afford (Psa 73:3-53For I was envious of the arrogant
[As] I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
4For there are no pains in their death,
And their body is fat.
5They are not in trouble [as other] men,
Nor are they plagued like mankind.
). That jealousy stands opposite to confidence and always comes forth from distrusting God. It is a lack of confidence in God, that He does not give what you need. It implies a doubt about God and His love. Therefore it is important to be jealous about the fear of the LORD always. If you do that, if you focus yourself on possessing it, you are able to accept your fate with joy as something that He gives to you. You can then count on His blessing and trust in His promises, always and all days.

The word “surely” with which verse 1818Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
begins, refers to what has been said previously. For the sinners there is no future. It is therefore foolish to envy them. There is actually a future for him who always fears the LORD. He who lives in relationship with Him, does not need to be jealous of anyone. Therefore, the way one looks forward to the future, depends on the fear of the LORD. He is the One Who gives hope.

The Hebrew word for hope is tiqvah which literally means ‘robe’. This word is used for the robe that Rahab had to tie in the window (Jos 2:17-1817The men said to her, “We [shall be] free from this oath to you which you have made us swear,18unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household.). This robe was the symbol of the hope that she had of being spared when Jericho would be taken in. Hope is what connects us with the eternity of God. Therefore it cannot ever be cut off, while the hope of sinners is actually being cut off, for that hope is based on something outside of God and is therefore by definition without any basis.


Again the Call to Listen

19Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.

The father again addresses his son emphatically with the words “my son”. It is about you, my son, whom I loved to see going a way which is to the honor of God. There is no end to becoming wise on earth. He who is wise, surely wants to become wiser and wiser. One of the characteristics of one who is wise, is the awareness of the necessity to grow continuously in wisdom. He who says that he is perfect in wisdom, lies and is limitlessly proud.

Listening is the basis to become wise. He who listens can become wise. Listening indicates the attitude of the pupil. The son is a pupil. The direction of the heart inseparably goes together with it. The heart should not be directed in one’s own way, but “in the way” of the LORD or of wisdom. All wisdom that we learn, is intended for us to go the right way, the way of wisdom, which is no other than the way of the LORD. It is the way of life in which everything happens under His authority and to His honor.


Bad Company

20Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
[Or] with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe [one] with rags.

The father warns his son urgently not to get into the company of heavy drinkers and gluttonous eaters (verse 2020Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
[Or] with gluttonous eaters of meat;
). These people have no limits. They represent a group of people who are characterized by a dramatic lack of self-control. They are powerless and characterless addicts. It is a company which the son must avoid. When he maintains a friendly contact with them, it will have a negative influence on his view of drunkenness and gluttony.

Excessive drinking and eating are as a matter of fact often symptoms of deeper problems. It is known of alcohol that it is especially a ‘solvent’. It is used to diminish or forget sorrow and tensions temporarily (cf. Pro 31:6-76Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
And wine to him whose life is bitter.
7Let him drink and forget his poverty
And remember his trouble no more.
). It applies also to eating. The problems do not drive someone to God, but to drink and food. Heavy drinkers and gluttonous eaters are keeping God out of their lives.

Verse 2121For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe [one] with rags.
begins with the word “for”, which means that now the reason for the warning of the previous verse follows. The heavy drinker and the gluttonous eater waste their money to their addiction. Their drink and food bring them to financial bankruptcy. They are often deeply in debt. They also drag their families into ruin. The drowsiness in which they continuously live, can be seen on their faces. They clothe themselves “with rags”, for every penny goes to drink and food and is not spent on the repair of their clothes.

We can also apply the ‘rags’ spiritually. Heavy drinkers and gluttonous eaters live a ‘ragged’ life. First it is a ragged life in the sense of a double life. As long as they can hide their addiction, they live two lives, a life with two faces. But their whole life is torn into countless pieces when they cannot hide their addiction anymore. That happens when they cannot do their work properly anymore and are fired or when creditors knock at their door because they do not meet their financial obligations anymore.


Honor and Rejoice Your Father and Mother

22Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
23Buy truth, and do not sell [it],
[Get] wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
25Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.

Soon after verse 1919Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
, the appeal to the son to listen is to be heard again in verse 2222Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
. Now it is added that he should listen to his father because the father begot him. The son should listen to his father because he owes his natural life to him. In that way the biological relationship is not emphasized that much, but the emphasis is on a deep human relationship. A father should be aware of the great privilege that he had been allowed to beget a son and at the same time the great responsibility (which is also a privilege) to teach his son about the fear of the LORD as the beginning of wisdom.

It is one of the great dramas of this time that more and more children have just a biological father. They have entirely no human relationship with him, let alone a deep human relationship, and not to mention anything at all about the task of teaching the fear of God. It is simply shocking to hear that a father is trying to get into contact with his son via face book whom he’d never taken care of, because he went off with another woman. After ten years the son suddenly receives a request via face book from his father whether he would want to be ‘his friend’. I leave the imagination about the response of the son to the reader.

Solomon also has a word about the mother to his son. The son is not to despise her “when she is old”. Not to despise means to have deep respect. Nowadays children know a lot more than their parents. They also often have more capabilities. The intellectual knowledge of the parents remains far behind that of the children and also their physical strength will be decreasing. Age-related diseases can enter into their lives by which the mother has to be taken care of.

The danger is great that the counsel of an old mother can be despised by a child. It takes time to visit her; and with the little time that he’s got left, he may want to spend it for his own benefit. And when on top of that she wants to give him some advice about what he should do, it will certainly not make him happy. Such a child shows great ingratitude and insensitiveness for the many years that his mother has spent on him. She has been there for him all the time.

The admonition not to despise the mother must still be heard strongly today. If the son is a wise son, he will continue to have deep respect for her, because of her efforts for him for example. Because of her care it could be that he has achieved what he is now. It is a reason to remain listening to his mother. Not that she must go on telling him what to do and what not to do in a way that she did in earlier days. The point is that children should continue to listen to the experiences of life through which she has been with God. Children still have to go through those experiences. It would be wise for them to honor her by listening to her. She speaks through her words and through her life.

The first expression of honoring the parents is by following them in holding on to the truth. Therefore the exhortation to buy truth and not to sell it follows in verse 2323Buy truth, and do not sell [it],
[Get] wisdom and instruction and understanding.
. He who wants to have something, buys it and pays the price asked. He who sells something, prefers to have the money above what he is selling. He who buys the truth and does not sell it, is willing to pay the purchase price, no matter how high the price is and he will not sell it again by any means, no matter how much is offered to him to buy it. It is not about a desire to buy the truth, but to actually buy it for the price worth paying.

The truth is not a certain doctrine, but it consists of “wisdom, instruction and understanding”. These things are more valuable in life than any material prosperity and are necessary to make life worth living on earth. Its value is eternal and is related to the knowledge of God in Christ. The ‘purchase price’ is the time that we invest and the means that we purchase in order to learn to know more about the truth. Buying also means that we come to Christ and ask him to grant us wisdom, instruction and understanding through His Spirit (cf. Rev. 3:18).

The valuation for the truth which appears from the purchase, makes the parents happy. Verses 24-2524The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
25Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
describe the great joy of parents whose son reveals himself as a righteous and wise man. The father will “greatly rejoice” (verse 2424The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
). It indicates again that he has “begotten” him (verse 2222Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
), which emphasizes the close relationship. It is the son who has descended from him. He had begotten him to make him a wise son.

In verse 2525Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
it is said to the son that he has to make sure that both his father and mother will rejoice. That will be the case when they see that he desires to go his way with the LORD. The father has begotten him, the mother has given birth to him. They have raised him together. When they see that their education has the effect that they fervently desired, they will have great joy (cf. 2Jn 1:44I was very glad to find [some] of your children walking in truth, just as we have received commandment [to do] from the Father.; 3Jn 1:44I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.). Children have to be made aware that they will be a joy to their parents by living a Godly life.


Two Ways

26Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
27For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.
28Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.

Solomon is asking his son to give him his heart. By that he means that the son must pay full attention to the teachings that he is giving to him. Thereby the father also points to his own ways, to his conduct, by which he is an example to be followed (cf. 1Cor 4:1616Therefore I exhort you, be imitators of me.; 11:11Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.; Phil 3:1717Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.; 1Thes 1:66You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,). He does not appeal now to his ears to listen, but to his eyes to see. Let him pay attention to the ways of his father. He is not supposed to just look, but to let his eyes “delight” in his ways like something attractive.

In verse 2626Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
the father urgently addressed and exhorted his son to pay attention to his ways, follow him in his ways and to delight in his ways. In verse 2727For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.
the reason follows, which is indicated by the word “for”. His urgent appeal is connected with the sexual dangers that are threatening the son. When he gives his heart to his father and pays attention to the ways of his father, his heart will not be attracted to “a harlot” or “an adulterous woman” and his eyes will not be focused on her.

The father warns him about two kinds of women. The “harlot” is the prostitute, the woman who offers herself to enter into sexual filthiness with her – of course for payment. The “adulterous woman” is the married woman who just wants something different. Today both kinds of women also offer their services via internet and commercials.

The father calls the harlot “a deep pit” and the adulterous woman “a narrow well”. If the son will make contact with the one, he will sink to a very low level, and if he makes contact with the other, he will get into deep trouble. He will never be able to get himself out of the pit or the well. The pit and the well are a gate of hell. Only by Divine intervention in mercy and power it is possible to get liberated from the pit and the well.

Verse 2828Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.
underlines that the son is dealing with a danger which is not only lurking, but that it is actually active. As it is said, the woman is offering her services. Therefore “she lurks like a robber”. The word “surely” which he uses prior to that, must add emphasis to his remark. Surely, that’s how it is, and nothing else. In Proverbs 7 the father described the way of the harlot extensively and also her depravity. (It’s a good thing to read that chapter again). Here he repeats it briefly.

Every man that she persuades to commit fornication with her “increases the faithless among men”. It means that her victims show ‘faithlessness’ to God’s institution of marriage and are also faithless to their own marital relationship. She also causes people to commit all kinds of other forms of faithlessness such as lying, stealing, killing somebody, committing suicide.


The Disastrous Consequences of Drunkenness

29Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
32At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
33Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35“They struck me, [but] I did not become ill;
They beat me, [but] I did not know [it].
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”

Directly connected to the warning against fornication in verses 26-2826Give me your heart, my son,
And let your eyes delight in my ways.
27For a harlot is a deep pit
And an adulterous woman is a narrow well.
28Surely she lurks as a robber,
And increases the faithless among men.
, a warning follows against drunkenness. This subject has already been dealt with briefly in verses 20-2120Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
[Or] with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe [one] with rags.
by the wise man. Drunkenness is closely related to fornication (Rev 17:22with whom the kings of the earth committed [acts of] immorality, and those who dwell on the earth were made drunk with the wine of her immorality.”) and also very easily leads to fornication (verse 3333Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
). The wise man pictures the picture of a drunken man vividly and sparks one’s imagination.

He begins with six questions (verse 2929Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
), to which questions he lets the answers follow in verse 3030Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
. In verse 3131Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
he has an advice, while in verse 3232At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
he shows the consequences in case his advice is not followed. In verses 33-3433Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
he addresses his son directly. He concludes his description in verse 3535“They struck me, [but] I did not become ill;
They beat me, [but] I did not know [it].
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”
with words that come out of the mouth of the drunk himself.

The drunk is someone who cries out “woe” and “sorrow” because he feels terrible (verse 2929Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
). The woe and sorrow may also refer to what he causes to others by his drunkenness, like his family. The drink makes him a person who causes quarrels, a hoodlum. When he comes out of his drunkenness, he “complains”, because he feels miserable. The wounds he has, happened during his drunkenness, whether by a fight or by hurting himself at stumbling again and again while he was waddling or bumped against something. Those are “wounds without cause”, for he would not have had those wounds had he not been drunk. Because of his drunkenness he cannot see clearly anymore, for he has bloodshot eyes, which makes him to have a blurred and double eyesight.

The answer in verse 3030Those who linger long over wine,
Those who go to taste mixed wine.
to the six questions in verse 2929Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has contentions? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
is short and also telling. The drunks are described here as people “who linger long over wine” and “who go to taste mixed wine”. They do not drink just a glass at their meal, but the wine fills their life. They go on drinking until the early hours of the morning. Of course the taste of mixed wine is a part of it. That increases the pleasure of drinking.

Drunks have no idea of time and responsibility. They are spineless people. They don’t care about the fact that they have to be on time for work the next morning. They don’t care about home. They are drunk and therefore not able to think about responsibilities.

The father advises the son not to look on the wine “when it sparkles in the cup” (verse 3131Do not look on the wine when it is red,
When it sparkles in the cup,
When it goes down smoothly;
), which means when the wine has a special attraction to him. That can be when you’re in a miserable situation, or when you’re facing a great disappointment. Then a special temptation can emanate from wine to drink it. Therefore the urgent advice is not to look at it. If you do, you will see how attractive it is. Your resistance against it will melt away like snow in the sun. When you touch the glass with your lips, you will experience how easily it flows inside the mouth.

But he should thereby consider that the short pleasure will end with the bite of a serpent and the poison of a viper (verse 3232At the last it bites like a serpent
And stings like a viper.
). He will “at last” be destroyed by it. Nobody gives himself over to wine when he thinks for a moment what the end shall be. His co-drinkers will not tell him. They offer the first glass to him. When he does not accept it, they will laugh at him. Therefore he accepts the glass and empties it. It indeed goes down easily and it tastes excellent. It turns out that his whole human dignity is being torn down.

In verses 33-3433Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
34And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
the father addresses his son directly. He has to watch out that drunkenness can cause his boundaries to fade away and may easily lead him to fornicate and utter perverse things (verse 3333Your eyes will see strange things
And your mind will utter perverse things.
). His drunken mind does not realize anymore that he is married. His eyes are filled with adultery, and because he has no sense of values anymore, he comes to the disgusting deed of adultery. The language that he speaks is of the very same filthy caliber. The most disgusting things are coming out unrestrained from his heart.

The drunken son will then be totally insensitive to what is happening to him (verse 3434And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea,
Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
). A drunk has no idea about what he‘s doing, where he is nor where he’s going to. He may find himself in the middle of the sea, in a heavy storm, but totally does not take notice of the fact that he can just simply drown. He is like a sleeping man that doesn’t realize anything. Or he can find himself on the top of a mast on which he is bouncing back and forth, which causes him to make a fatal fall without him being aware of this danger. Here also he is like a sleeping man who has no idea of anything. He is strolling around the street and turning around in his own vomit without being aware of it (Isa 28:7-87And these also reel with wine and stagger from strong drink:
The priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,
They are confused by wine, they stagger from strong drink;
They reel while having visions,
They totter [when rendering] judgment.
8For all the tables are full of filthy vomit, without a [single clean] place.
; cf. Psa 107:26-2726They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in [their] misery.
27They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits’ end.
).

The drunk knows that he has been struck, but does not know by whom he was struck (verse 3535“They struck me, [but] I did not become ill;
They beat me, [but] I did not know [it].
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”
). It didn’t make him to get ill and he is therefore not bed ridden. He has even been beaten with very hard blows, but he did not feel anything. How sweet it is to be drunk! Anything can happen to you, but it doesn’t bother you at all. He wants to go on with this life. He is incorrigible; he wants to remain drunk and therefore numb to the misery. Therefore when he is awake, he will grab at his big comforter again, the bottle, (Isa 56:1212“Come,” [they say], “let us get wine, and let us drink heavily of strong drink;
And tomorrow will be like today, only more so.”
; 5:1111Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink,
Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!
). What a tragedy!


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