Proverbs 23–24: Appearance & Reality

Read the Bible in 2011Week 37: Thursday

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

Proverbs 23:6–8

Thursday’s Bible reading is Proverbs 23–24. These two chapters finish the fourth section of the book, Proverbs 22:17–24:22: “Words of Wise Men,” and contain the complete fifth section, Proverbs 24:23–34: “Further Words of Wise Men.” (See The Book of Proverbs).1

Deception is a common thread in these chapters. While the word is not always used, there is a contrast between deceptive appearance and reality: the deception of a ruler (23:1-3), wealth (23:4-5), a selfish man (23:6–8), envy of sinners (23:17-18; 24:1-2, 19-20), heavy drinking and gluttony (23:20-21, 29-35) and revenge (24: 17-18, 28-29).

There are exhortations and encouragements to gain wisdom as its beneficial effects are mentioned in several verses.

“My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 24:13–14

By their example these chapters—in fact, the entire book of Proverbs— instruct us on parenting by their continual teaching of discernment. This has been very important to me as a mother—to help my children connect the dots on cause and effect of deeds and appearance versus reality. Teaching discernment doesn’t take place in one conversation that becomes a mind-numbing lecture, but is most effective in numerous discussions over many years at the appropriate time with appropriate words. Remember what Derek Kidner wrote about “Words at their best”—“They will be apt.”2

There is also encouragement for our work of instruction:

“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and your mother be glad,
And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.”
Proverbs 23:24–25


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Isaiah 42 Photograph: ChristianPhotos.net – Free High Resolution Photos for Christian Publications
Med u saću, cropped (Honey and Honeycomb), akarlovic:  GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported.
1, 2Derek Kidner, Proverbs, pp. 147, 48.

Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter

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