Proverbs 25:16

ESV If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it.
NIV If you find honey, eat just enough-- too much of it, and you will vomit.
NASB Have you found honey? Eat only what you need, So that you do not have it in excess and vomit it.
CSB If you find honey, eat only what you need; otherwise, you'll get sick from it and vomit.
NLT Do you like honey? Don’t eat too much, or it will make you sick!
KJV Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.

What does Proverbs 25:16 mean?

In the most literal sense, this verse warns about the danger of over-eating, which is an upset stomach. The meaning of this proverb is broader than just food, however. The general idea is like modern English expressions which warn about "too much of a good thing." In reasonable doses, many things can be enjoyed (1 Timothy 4:4), including many types of food, drink, and pleasure (Psalm 16:11; Deuteronomy 26:9; 1 Corinthians 10:30–33; Colossians 2:18). But even good things become harmful when they're overused, idolized, or turn into addictions (1 Corinthians 6:12; 1 John 2:15). Moderation is the key to appropriate enjoyment of those things God provides for our legitimate enjoyment.

In Old Testament times honey was valued as a deliciously sweet food. Like most sugar-rich substances, too much honey can cause nausea and vomiting. What applied to honey in the ancient world applies today to modern eating habits. Sweet foods are enjoyable for most people, but too much can lead to stomach distress. Wine was a common beverage in Bible times but overindulging in wine could lead to drunkenness. Therefore, Proverbs 20:1 warns: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." The apostle Paul advised Timothy to drink just a little wine for his stomach's sake and for his frequent ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). There, again, moderation is the key to properly enjoying God's creation.

This proverb stands on its own as a call for moderation. Yet it also helps set up the next lesson, which warns against abusing another person's hospitality (Proverbs 25:17).
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