Proverbs 23:1

When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee:

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Ignore your appetite at fancy dinners with important people having an agenda. Wining and dining is a powerful means of persuasion. Lobbyists, politicians, whoremongers, and salesmen use it as a tool to break down the inhibitions and resistance of their targets.

Could you resist, if a president’s motorcade picked you up to eat at the most expensive restaurant in the city? Solomon warned his son about the dangerous and seductive power of luxurious eating and drinking with a man out to corrupt or harm you (Pr 23:1-8).

Consider the influences working together to reduce your resolve and obtain your approval or agreement. The warm and friendly atmosphere, the flattering words, the luscious wine, the sumptuous meats, and the delicate pastries are an ambiance and menu for lies!

They distract your mind from discerning your host’s intents. They reduce your vigilance by relaxing your soul. They obligate you to return the costly favor by granting his request. They addict your senses to a pampered lifestyle by exposing you to such finery. They pressure your convictions by popular approval of such pleasure. Could you resist?

The book of Proverbs is a book teaching wisdom – the power of right judgment, knowing what to do in any situation. It teaches discernment – the ability to perceive a situation in spite of deceit and distraction. It teaches discretion – knowing when to say, No!

The warning here is clear enough: do not let the extraordinary delight of a situation or the luxury offered by a host cloud your judgment or blind your soul from recognizing the temptation and danger at hand. If a ruler is doing such for you, he has an ulterior motive.

No matter how delicious the meal appears, smells, and tastes, it is deceitful (Pr 23:1-3). It is vain meat, for prosperity is very illusionary (Pr 23:4-5). It is distracting meat, for his heart is not with you, no matter how you feel by his fare and words (Pr 23:6-7).

It is poisonous meat, for it will come back up as vomit when you realize how it was used to snare your soul and harm your life (Pr 23:8). Ignore the flattering toasts. Despise the fabulous taste. Diligently consider the hidden agenda of the meal and its provider.

The lesson is broader than appears, as is much of scripture (Ps 119:96). The specific danger of fine wine, food, and a powerful or wealthy host is the primary object. But the warning includes any seduction hiding a giver’s motives or goals. Evil communications corrupt good manners, no matter how attractively they are disguised (I Cor 15:33).

Diligently consider the food, or fancy trappings of any kind, to perceive the risk at hand. Only fools dive in and enjoy offered amenities or services without considering poison in the cup. Wisdom leads to prosperity and success by being skeptical in such situations.

Dinah violated this lesson, when she foolishly went to visit the pagan girls of Canaan; she was no match for Prince Shechem (Gen 34:1-3). Countless young and innocent girls have lost their purity or virginity by the manipulative draw of a young man (Pr 30:19).

The warning is clear. Prudently look past flattery and favors to the intent and goal of the host. It is the father’s duty to protect daughters from such situations and temptations, for it is far too easy for a young man to seduce most any young woman (Pr 30:19).

Since Proverbs addresses young men, particularly Solomon’s son, the warnings are also about the strange woman – a whore or adulteress out to get a man. In his graphic parable of seduction, Solomon described the enticing trappings a conniving seductress used to tempt her vulnerable victim to fornication, adultery, and his death (Pr 7:6-23).

What is the secret to resisting such women? Do not look at them or think about them (Pr 6:25; Job 31:1; Matt 5:28). You apply the proverb by considering beyond the beauty, the flattery, and your wild lusts to the hidden death and hell (Pr 2:18; 5:5; 7:27; 9:18).

Bless God for true heroes! Daniel was not impressed at all by the king’s wine and meats, when he was put on the fast track in Babylon (Dan 1:1-16). He had purposed in his heart he would not defile himself with the seductive diet. He diligently considered what was before him and saw the danger of disobeying his God, and his God highly rewarded him.

Joseph defied the advances of Potiphar’s wife, when young and alone in Egypt, with great authority and liberty from his master (Gen 39:1-18). He looked beyond the eager woman and his youthful lusts to consider the offence against God, and though he took a short detour through prison for his integrity, he spent the rest of his life on a throne.

The lesson is not over. False churches also set a table. They wine and dine foolish souls with stained glass, or professional organists, or beautiful buildings, or elaborate rituals, or entertaining sermons, or suave and cool ministers, or youth programs, or rock music, or children’s activities. Can you consider diligently what is before you in this crucial issue?

Heresy tastes best with good words and fair speeches (Rom 16:17-18; II Cor 11:3-4,13-15; II Pet 2:18; Jude 1:16). But hid in the meal is poison of false doctrine and practice. Consider diligently what is before you. Prove it safe first (Acts 17:11; I Thess 5:21). Why even try a meal if you know already it has faulty and dangerous ingredients? Choose a few basic requirements of true religion from the Bible and demand their presence first.