Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats:
Food can be dangerous. For the moment, forget nutrition, your diet, gluttony, or your budget. Food can be seductive in the hands of the wrong person. A person may use food to take advantage of you by breaking down your inhibitions and reservations. So it is wise to know a host’s motives, if a questionable person invites you to a meal (Pr 23:6-8).
The context helps. Solomon first warned about the lifestyle of the rich (Pr 23:1-3). If a ruler invites a man to a meal who loves good food, he had better put a knife to his throat, because the enticement of luxurious dining will be great. He then warned about the vanity of riches, for the temptation of an extravagant lifestyle can be destructive (Pr 23:4-5).
In this section (Pr 23:6-8), Solomon shifted his warning away from the fine food or wealth itself to the motives and intentions of the person offering the meal. Both luxurious lifestyles and deceitful hospitality are to be avoided, and the present proverb deals with the latter danger. You should reject invitations for dinner by an evil person, who has wicked ambitions other than your pleasure and prosperity motivating his offer.
What is an evil eye? Most commentators make it a stingy person by comparing a few verses (Pr 22:9; 28:22; Is 32:5; Matt 20:15). They suppose the danger is an insincere meal due to the host’s miserliness. This is a weak lesson indeed. By comparing a few more verses, the evil eye becomes wicked thoughts, expanding the lesson to the use of food by seducers to get a victim to act against their conscience (Deut 15:9; 28:54,56; Matt 6:23).
Sexual seduction often includes food. Solomon’s description of an adulteress enticing a young man included an offer of fine dining on choice cuts from her peace offerings (Pr 7:14; Lev 7:11-16). Whoremongers speak of “wining and dining” women. Many girls and women have been led down the primrose path to a sinful bed through a restaurant. (Some mothers even tell daughters that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!)
The danger is two-fold. First, the warm ambiance coupled with wine and food is very relaxing and sensual, causing mild euphoria and a compromise of inhibitions. Physical contact initiated at this point can hardly be resisted. Second, victims feel obligated to allow the pursuers’ advances after the money, time, and effort spent on the evening. By these two factors, it is very difficult for most people to withstand the host’s solicitations.
Lobbyists, politicians, lawyers, and salesmen can be as manipulative with food as any whore or whoremonger. They also know how to “wine and dine” a client, legislator, or customer into acquiescence. Many deals have been closed without full disclosure or agreement through the corrupting effect of fine food and flattering conversation.
Wise men identify a man’s motives and determine if a meal can be justified or not. If there is much at stake and the inviting party has evil or questionable ethics or ambitions, the invitation should be declined. Such hospitality could be dangerous. You should ignore the venue, the participants, the menu, or any other attractive feature of the event. Evil communications corrupt good manners, and a fine meal can accelerate the corruption.
There are friends and fare you can enjoy with total peace and pleasure. A meal with a brother in Christ is precious, no matter what is served (Pr 15:17; 17:1; Ps 133:1). Lady Wisdom has spread a table, if you will humble yourself from your foolishness (Pr 9:1-5). The gospel of Jesus Christ calls you to a daily feast that is free (Is 55:1-5). And soon the Marriage Supper of the Lamb will bring perpetual pleasure and profit (Rev 19:9).