Proverbs 23

Chapter 23

When You Sit Down To Dine with a Ruler . . .[a]

1 When you sit down to dine with a ruler,
take careful note of what is before you.
2 Control yourself[b]
if you are given to overindulgence.
3 Do not yearn for the ruler’s delicacies,
for they are deceptive food.

Wealth Passes Away[c]

4 Do not wear yourself out in the pursuit of wealth,
and cease even to think about it.
5 When you fix your gaze upon it,
it is gone before you realize it.
For it suddenly sprouts wings
and flies up to the sky like an eagle.

Do Not Dine with a Stingy Man[d]

6 Do not dine with a stingy man
or hanker for his delicacies.
7 For, like a hair,
they will stick in your throat.
“Eat and drink,” he will say to you,
but he does not mean it in his heart.
8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten
and find that your compliments have been wasted.
9 Do not waste your words on a fool
who will only despise the wisdom of your comments.[e]

God Vindicates the Defenseless[f]

10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone
or encroach on the lands of orphans.
11 For their redeemer is powerful,
and he will take up their cause against you.

Direct Your Heart along the Right Path[g]

12 Apply your heart to instruction
and your ears to words of knowledge.
13 Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you beat him with a rod, he will not die.
14 Rather, if you beat him with a rod,
you will save him from the netherworld.[h]
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
then my heart will be glad.
16 Also my innermost being will rejoice
when your lips utter what is right.
17 Do not allow your heart to envy sinners,
but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord;[i]
18 there truly is a future for you,
and your hope will not be cut short.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise
as you direct your heart along the right path.
20 Do not consort with drunkards[j]
or be one of those who gorge themselves with meat.
21 For the drunkard and the glutton will become impoverished,
and stupor will clothe them in rags.
22 Listen to your father who begot you,
and do not despise your mother[k] when she is old.
23 Buy truth and do not sell it;
this is wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
24 The father of a good man will rejoice;
he who begets a wise son will delight in him.
25 May your father and mother be glad;
may the one who bore you exult.

The Prostitute Is a Deep Well[l]

26 My son, pay attention to me
and let your eyes delight in my ways.
27 For a prostitute is a deep well,
and an adulteress is a narrow pit.
28 Such a woman lies in wait like a robber,
and many are the men she deludes.

The Joys and Dangers of Wine[m]

29 Who endures misery? Who endures remorse?
Who has strife? Who has anxiety?
Who becomes bruised without knowing the reason?
Who has blackened eyes?
30 Those who linger over their wine too long,
those who sample blended wines.
31 Do not note how red the wine is,
how it sparkles in the cup,
and how smoothly it goes down.
32 For in the end its bite is like that of a serpent
or that of a poisonous viper.
33 Then your eyes will behold strange sights,
and your heart will utter distorted words.
34 You will become like one sleeping at sea
or clinging to the top of the mast.
35 You will say, “They struck me, but I was not hurt.
They beat me, but I did not feel it.
When will I awaken,
so that I can seek another drink?”


  1. Proverbs 23:1 When people are in society, they must know how to conduct themselves. Proverbs claims to impart an art of how to live.
  2. Proverbs 23:2 Control yourself: literally, “put a knife to your throat”—a proverbial metaphor for restraining one’s appetites.
  3. Proverbs 23:4 This is an excellent warning: power exposes one to the temptation to amass a fortune with ill-gotten goods: “The love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10; see Prov 15:27; 28:20; Heb 13:5). We must place our trust in God not money (see Jer 17:11; Lk 12:21; 1 Tim 6:17).
  4. Proverbs 23:6 What good is accepting an invitation that is given out of envy rather than friendship!
  5. Proverbs 23:9 Despise the wisdom of your comments: fools despise wisdom (Prov 1:7), hate knowledge and correction (Prov 1:22; 12:11), and hurl abuse on those who correct them (Prov 9:7).
  6. Proverbs 23:10 God comes to the aid of those who do not have anyone to defend them, especially orphans and widows, for he is “the Father of orphans and the defender of widows” (Ps 68:6; see also Jer 50:34). Will take up their cause: see Pss 12:6; 140:13; Isa 3:14-16; Mal 3:5.
  7. Proverbs 23:12 A father here speaks to his son in order to counsel him, for wisdom is tradition, an apprenticeship in how to behave, the acceptance of an ideal that has shown its value. The conceptions of education set forth undoubtedly deserve to be reviewed and adapted in accordance with the evolution of cultures. But doesn’t the joy of parents consist in knowing that they are understood when they bear witness from the best of themselves!
  8. Proverbs 23:14 The ancients thought that in order to give instruction one has to be severe (see Prov 19:18). In this ancient conception, a good education was the guarantee of good behavior. Hence, it was a buffer against the punishment of God reserved for the wicked and against the punishment of the netherworld, i.e., death.
  9. Proverbs 23:17 Fear of the Lord: see note on Prov 1:7. Future . . . hope: see Prov 24:14; Pss 9:19; 37:37; 73:24; Jer 29:11.
  10. Proverbs 23:20 Do not consort with drunkards: see notes on verses 29-35; 20:1. Drunkenness is also condemned in Deut 21:20; Mt 24:49; Lk 21:34; Rom 13:13; 1 Cor 6:10; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; 1 Tim 3:3; 1 Pet 4:3.
  11. Proverbs 23:22 Do not despise your mother: see Prov 15:20; 30:17.
  12. Proverbs 23:26 The danger of letting oneself be led astray by a woman who prostitutes herself is described more at length in Prov 5:2; see also note on Prov 2:16.
  13. Proverbs 23:29 This portrait of a drunkard is lacking in no detail. The last verse indicates the most damaging effect of drunkenness on the drunkard: the desire to drink again and total unconcern for bodily or spiritual harm.

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