Proverbs 30:22

ESV a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is filled with food;
NIV a servant who becomes king, a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
NASB Under a slave when he becomes king, And a fool when he is satisfied with food,
CSB a servant when he becomes king, a fool when he is stuffed with food,
NLT a slave who becomes a king, an overbearing fool who prospers,
KJV For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat;

What does Proverbs 30:22 mean?

These are the first two of four examples which bring instability and disruption (Proverbs 30:21). All four involve persons suddenly placed in situations for which they are not qualified. Agur (Proverbs 30:1) does not mean all persons should accept their state and never seek improvement. Rather, he means that suddenly thrusting a person into an unsuitable situation leads to disaster.

The first is a slave who becomes king; in Agur's context, this suggests a sudden or immediate rise to power. Rapidly gaining authority can mean being unprepared for associated challenges. If a person literally went from slave to king, in a moment's time, he would obviously lack necessary experience, knowledge, and context. No matter how moral, or wise, that person would be prone to exercise poor judgment. Those bad decisions would weigh heavily on those whom he governs, putting the nation in severe jeopardy.

Agur also insists that a fool who is entirely satisfied puts others at risk. The word "fool" identifies a person without spiritual perception or sensitivity (Proverbs 1:7, 22). When someone lacking good sense is provided with their every need, they become even less sensitive to God's will. That includes apathy for the needs of other people. In western fiction, this is often represented in a "spoiled rich child" figure. Jesus warned that material comfort tempts us to spiritual apathy (Mark 10:25). As with the other three examples in Agur's lesson, this leads to poor decisions, strife, and instability.
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