Beware of Rulers’ Delicacies

Reading the Word

Proverbs 23:1–3 (NRSV)
1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you,
2 and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite.
3 Do not desire the ruler’s delicacies, for they are deceptive food.

Understanding and Applying the Word

To receive an invitation to a dinner with a ruler would be quite an honor. Imagine the atmosphere and the wealth and power on display. Imagine also the food. There would be much of it and likely things you and I have never had or only on rare and special occasions. Of course, it would be prepared just right and would be delicious. Wouldn’t it be tempting to dig in?

This proverb tells us to be on guard with our appetites in such a setting. We should “put a knife to your throat” we are told. This means we should curb our appetite. Why is this? It seems like such a great time to feast!

The third verse tells us the risk of such a setting. The ruler’s delicacies are “deceptive food.” There is likely an agenda behind such an invitation. The ruler likely wants something in return. Be careful lest you put yourself into his debt.

This proverb reminds me of so many sales scams today. While they do not involve a ruler, we are often promised free things, but when we read the fine print, we find that there are strings attached. We must always be on our toes about these kinds of things and seek to indebt ourselves to no one.

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