And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.
Strong temptations require severe responses. Here a ruler plies a man with a fancy meal (Pr 23:1,3). The fine food can lead him to indulge in drunkenness or gluttony, loose his lips or inhibitions before the ruler, or compromise convictions to the ruler’s requests. If fine dining is tempting, protect yourself and rule your lusts by the most severe measures.
If in a situation of much good food, you remember your weakness for such things, you must cut off your appetite. Here is a figure of speech emphasizing the need for a severe response to temptation. You should go cautiously through the meal, as if a knife were at your throat. You should restrain your eating, as if under a self-imposed penalty of death. It is Paul’s language of mortifying – or putting to death – the flesh and its lusts (Col 3:5).
When considering food temptations, remember Daniel. He was a captive in a foreign land and placed in a fast track program to be a counselor to King Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1:1-7). But Daniel considered the menu carefully and chose to reject it to honor his God (Dan 1:8-16). And you know the results. Daniel was promoted over his peers (Dan 1:17-21).
Are such tempting situations with food only found in the Bible? Or do businessmen ply customers today with fine meals? Do politicians ply constituents? Do lobbyists ply politicians? Do lawyers explore witnesses? Do salesmen entice buyers? Do church members soften pastors? Are women ever seduced after a wonderful dinner out? What is meant by the popular expression, “wine and dine”? The danger still exists. Beware!
The Lord Jesus taught a similar lesson of self-denial about a man’s temptation at seeing an attractive woman. If a man is tempted to lust after a woman, or women in general in a given situation, he should get away from that temptation. How severe should his efforts be? He should pluck out his right eye or cut off his right hand (Matt 5:27-30; 18:7-9). Of course, as with this proverb, it is a figure of speech for a severe response to temptation. It does not mean you should literally pluck out eyes, cut off hands, or slice your throat.
Godliness teaches you to avoid any thing that leads to temptation (Rom 13:14). Paul was committed to keeping his body’s appetites under his rule (I Cor 9:27). David would not allow any evil thing before his eyes (Ps 101:3), and he sought to avoid the dainties of the wicked (Ps 141:4). A good man will not even have foolish friends (Pr 9:6; 14:7; 22:24-25; I Cor 15:33). This is temperance – the godly life of self-denial (Ga 5:23; Tit 2:11-14).
Do you know your appetites? Do you know the sins that easily beset you? Your duty is clear. You must put a knife to those appetites and deny them by cutting off any occasions for them, even if the loss of those things is as costly or painful as losing an eye or hand. Jesus called it taking up a cross daily, and it was necessary to be His disciple (Luke 9:23).
There is a feast coming, when God’s elect will sit with the Ruler of all. It is called the marriage supper of the Lamb. They will not have to put a knife to their throats at this incredible feast. Their lustful flesh will be gone forever, and the Host of the meal will be purity and truth personified (Rev 19:7-9). There will be no temptations to ever sin again.