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Proverbs chapter 23

New International Version

1 When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. 3 Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. 4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. 5 Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle. 6 Do not eat the food of a begrudging host, do not crave his delicacies; 7 for he is the kind of person who is always thinking about the cost. 'Eat and drink,' he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments. 9 Do not speak to fools, for they will scorn your prudent words. 10 Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you. 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge. 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish them with the rod, they will not die. 14 Punish them with the rod and save them from death. 15 My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad indeed; 16 my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. 17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the LORD. 18 There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off. 19 Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: 20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, 21 for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. 22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth and do not sell it-- wisdom, instruction and insight as well. 24 The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. 25 May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful! 26 My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, 27 for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. 28 Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men. 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. 31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! 32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. 34 You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. 35 They hit me,' you will say, 'but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?'
English Standard Version

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 are given to appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food. 4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. 5 When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven. 6 Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies, 7 for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the morsels that you have eaten, and waste your pleasant words. 9 Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, for he will despise the good sense of your words. 10 Do not move an ancient landmark or enter the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Redeemer is strong; he will plead their cause against you. 12 Apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge. 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. 14 If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol. 15 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. 16 My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. 17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the LORD all the day. 18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off. 19 Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. 20 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, 21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. 22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. 25 Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice. 26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 27 For a prostitute is a deep pit; an adulteress is a narrow well. 28 She lies in wait like a robber and increases the traitors among mankind. 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
King James Version

1 When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: 2 And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. 3 Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. 5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
6 Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, neither desire thou his dainty meats: 7 For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. 8 The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up, and lose thy sweet words.
9 Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.
10 Remove not the old landmark; and enter not into the fields of the fatherless: 11 For their redeemer is mighty; he shall plead their cause with thee.
12 Apply thine heart unto instruction, and thine ears to the words of knowledge. 13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14 Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell. 15 My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine. 16 Yea, my reins shall rejoice, when thy lips speak right things.
17 Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long. 18 For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.
19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. 20 Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: 21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags. 22 Hearken unto thy father that begat thee, and despise not thy mother when she is old. 23 Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: and he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him. 25 Thy father and thy mother shall be glad, and she that bare thee shall rejoice. 26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways. 27 For a whore is a deep ditch; and a strange woman is a narrow pit. 28 She also lieth in wait as for a prey, and increaseth the transgressors among men.
29 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? 30 They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. 31 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. 32 At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. 33 Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. 34 Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. 35 They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
New American Standard Bible

1 When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you, 2 And put a knife to your throat If you are a person of great appetite. 3 Do not desire his delicacies, For it is deceptive food. 4 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth; Stop dwelling on it. 5 When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. 6 Do not eat the bread of a selfish person; Or desire his delicacies; 7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, 'Eat and drink!' But his heart is not with you. 8 You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten And waste your compliments. 9 Do not speak to be heard by a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words. 10 Do not move the ancient boundary Or go into the fields of the fatherless, 11 For their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you. 12 Apply your heart to discipline, And your ears to words of knowledge. 13 Do not withhold discipline from a child; Though you strike him with the rod, he will not die. 14 You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol. 15 My son, if your heart is wise, My own heart also will be glad, 16 And my innermost being will rejoice When your lips speak what is right. 17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always. 18 Certainly there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off. 19 Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way. 20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags. 22 Listen to your father, who fathered you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get wisdom, instruction, and understanding. 24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. 25 Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you. 26 Give me your heart, my son, And let your eyes delight in my ways. 27 For a prostitute is a deep pit, And a strange woman is a narrow well. 28 Certainly she lurks as a robber, And increases the treacherous among mankind. 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has red eyes? 30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; 32 In the end it bites like a snake And stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will say perverse things. 34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. 35 'They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When will I awake? I will seek another drink.'
New Living Translation

1 While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you. 2 If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; 3 don't desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you.
4 Don't wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit. 5 In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle.
6 Don't eat with people who are stingy; don't desire their delicacies. 7 They are always thinking about how much it costs. 'Eat and drink,' they say, but they don't mean it. 8 You will throw up what little you've eaten, and your compliments will be wasted.
9 Don't waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice.
10 Don't cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers; don't take the land of defenseless orphans. 11 For their Redeemer is strong; he himself will bring their charges against you.
12 Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge.
13 Don't fail to discipline your children. They won't die if you spank them. 14 Physical discipline may well save them from death.
15 My child, if your heart is wise, my own heart will rejoice! 16 Everything in me will celebrate when you speak what is right.
17 Don't envy sinners, but always continue to fear the LORD. 18 You will be rewarded for this; your hope will not be disappointed.
19 My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course. 20 Do not carouse with drunkards or feast with gluttons, 21 for they are on their way to poverty, and too much sleep clothes them in rags.
22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don't despise your mother when she is old. 23 Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment. 24 The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure to have children who are wise. 25 So give your father and mother joy! May she who gave you birth be happy.
26 O my son, give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways. 27 A prostitute is a dangerous trap; a promiscuous woman is as dangerous as falling into a narrow well. 28 She hides and waits like a robber, eager to make more men unfaithful.
29 Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? 30 It is the one who spends long hours in the taverns, trying out new drinks. 31 Don't gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. 32 For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper. 33 You will see hallucinations, and you will say crazy things. 34 You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. 35 And you will say, 'They hit me, but I didn't feel it. I didn't even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?'
Christian Standard Bible

1 When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, 2 and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite;
3 don't desire his choice food, for that food is deceptive. 4 Don't wear yourself out to get rich; because you know better, stop!
5 As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky. 6 Don't eat a stingy person's bread, and don't desire his choice food, 7 for it's like someone calculating inwardly. "Eat and drink," he says to you, but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit the little you've eaten and waste your pleasant words.
9 Don't speak to a fool, for he will despise the insight of your words. 10 Don't move an ancient boundary marker, and don't encroach on the fields of the fatherless,
11 for their Redeemer is strong, and he will champion their cause against you.
12 Apply yourself to discipline and listen to words of knowledge. 13 Don't withhold discipline from a youth; if you punish him with a rod, he will not die.
14 Punish him with a rod, and you will rescue his life from Sheol. 15 My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will indeed rejoice.
16 My innermost being will celebrate when your lips say what is right. 17 Don't let your heart envy sinners; instead, always fear the Lord.
18 For then you will have a future, and your hope will not be dashed. 19 Listen, my son, and be wise; keep your mind on the right course. 20 Don't associate with those who drink too much wine or with those who gorge themselves on meat.
21 For the drunkard and the glutton will become poor, and grogginess will clothe them in rags. 22 Listen to your father who gave you life, and don't despise your mother when she is old. 23 Buy--and do not sell--truth, wisdom, instruction, and understanding. 24 The father of a righteous son will rejoice greatly, and one who fathers a wise son will delight in him.
25 Let your father and mother have joy, and let her who gave birth to you rejoice. 26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways. 27 For a prostitute is a deep pit, and a wayward woman is a narrow well;
28 indeed, she sets an ambush like a robber and increases the number of unfaithful people. 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has conflicts? Who has complaints? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has red eyes? 30 Those who linger over wine; those who go looking for mixed wine. 31 Don't gaze at wine because it is red, because it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a snake and stings like a viper. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and you will say absurd things. 34 You'll be like someone sleeping out at sea or lying down on the top of a ship's mast. 35 "They struck me, but I feel no pain! They beat me, but I didn't know it! When will I wake up? I'll look for another drink."

What does Proverbs chapter 23 mean?

In the previous chapter, Solomon introduced a series of thirty wise sayings (Proverbs 22:17–21) which he endorses yet did not necessarily write himself. The first five were found in chapter 22; the sixth through eighteenth are in this passage.

Greed and gluttony are dangerous, even when enjoying the hospitality of a host. It's important not to appear to take undue advantage of the host's generosity. At the same time, one should be careful not to allow generosity to sway good judgment. A cynical, manipulative host should be avoided since their charity is just a pretext for a bribe. Wealth, itself, is tempting, but part of godly wisdom is knowing when to stop chasing profit. This segment repeats warnings about fraud, in the form of moving boundary markers, and the pointless exercise of trying to educate a hard-headed fool (Proverbs 23:1–11).

Next are reminders about the value of proper child discipline. In this context, the intent is to help children learn to make good choices, in tune with God's will (Proverbs 1:7). Those who grow into adults, and who follow such teachings, bring their parents joy. As part of that perspective, Solomon encourages the reader not to be jealous of those who engage in sin—their hope is limited, while those who honor God can look forward to eternity. The passage warns about being associated with people who lack self-control. Not only will their immorality influence others, but they can also cause collateral damage with their poor choices (Proverbs 23:12–25).

In the same way, sexual sins should be taken seriously and avoided. The danger of lust is compared to a trap, or to an ambush from a robber. This advice is followed by the Bible's most extensive, detailed warning about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Over-consumption leads to personal woes, side effects, and a host of other dangers. While Scripture does not forbid all use of alcohol, it clearly labels drunkenness as a sin (Ephesians 5:18). The Bible also explains in direct terms what can happen when someone consumes alcohol carelessly (Proverbs 23:26–35).