For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.
You need to know the hearts of men. It is not that difficult. If you do not, you could be their next victim. The proverb here warns about deceitful hosts seeking your harm.
Here is Solomon’s whole warning, “Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words” (Pr 23:6-8). Be careful, even at dinner!
The context has warned about the deceitful dangers of luxurious living, which is the usual lifestyle of rulers and the rich (Pr 23:1-3). Men that love these things are at risk in such settings, for fine dining may corrupt their morals or priorities. Solomon then went further to warn about the vanity of riches, for they are not the real substance of life (Pr 23:4-5).
He then shifted to the danger of dining when the host has evil motives (Pr 23:6-8). The fine food and drink, and the flattering praise and questions, which you enjoyed much during the meal, will be quite distasteful once you realize how you have been used or abused. Whoremongers, conspirators, and salesmen often use fine dining this way.
Wise men examine motives as to whether a meal can be allowed. If there is much at stake and/or you doubt the host’s intentions, then decline the invitation. Such hospitality is dangerous. Ignore the venue, company, menu, or any other attractive aspect of the event. Evil communications corrupt good manners, and a fine meal can accelerate the process.
You must measure men’s hearts. It can be done and should be done to protect yourself. David knew how to do it, and he chose his employees and friends accordingly (Ps 101:1-8). In a descending order of importance, here are the criteria to know a man’s heart:
1. By faith and fear of God (Pr 1:7; 14:2,16; 28:28; 31:30; Ps 15:4; 119:63; II Cor 6:14; II Thes 3:1-2).
2. By actions (Pr 4:23; 20:11; 21:8; 24:21; 27:6; Matt 7:16; 12:33; II Pet 2:10-12; Jas 2:15-16; I Jn 3:18).
3. By speech (Pr 4:24; 10:11,20; 20:19; 22:11; 27:14; Eccl 10:12-14; Matt 12:34-37; Luke 6:45).
4. By wisdom (Pr 9:6-10; 10:14,23; 12:8; 13:10,16; 14:7; 15:7,14; 17:16; Ecclesiastes 8:1).
5. By friends (Prov 1:10-19; 13:20; 19:27; 28:7; 29:12; Psalms 1:1-3; 50:18; Isaiah 1:23).
6. By family (Ezek 16:44-45; II Tim 1:5; I Kings 5:1; II Chron 18:1; II Kings 8:18; Exodus 34:7).
7. By culture or nation (Titus 1:12; Genesis 24:1-4; 26:34-35; 34:1-2; Deut 28:50; Acts 2:40; 17:21).
You must learn to ignore flattery, gifts, confessions, testimonies, looks, embraces, praise, or compliments. All these things have been used countless times to entice or seduce men to sin. They mean nothing by themselves. They are truly meaningful only when they come from those with godly character as measured by the indicators above.
What if you have to do business in the world, where few or less truly fear God or have faith? Then ignore the first criterion above and emphasize the others even higher, with great consideration given to the matter at hand and what could potentially be at stake, carefully balancing the need for you to participate and the risk of a worst case scenario.
There are friends and fare with total peace and pleasure – a meal with a brother in Christ, no matter what is served (Pr 15:17; 17:1; Ps 133:1). Lady Wisdom has spread a table, if you will accept it (Pr 9:1-5). The gospel of Christ is a daily feast that is free (Is 55:1-5). The Marriage Supper of the Lamb will bring perpetual pleasure and profit (Rev 19:9).
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