Click this link to hear an audio version of the below text narrated by SOTH member Jerry Rhinehart:
Proverbs 23:1-18 (ESV)
23 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.
Much of today’s reading gives advice on how we should act in the presence of others, especially our superiors, those wealthier than us, and in the presence of fools. The main message is, “don’t allow the impressiveness, wealth, or foolishness of the people you are with to change your behavior. Stick with God’s ways of wisdom!” Think about the ways you may speak or act differently, depending on whom you are with. Then ask, “Am I compromising my integrity? Am I really honoring God?” This is summed up in 23:17 to not envy sinners but continue in the fear of the Lord. This simply means letting your love for God be the most important thing in your heart at all times. When we are constantly aware of the blessing and love of God, and desire to please God more than anything else, then our hearts are protected from the envy of sinners, even when they seem to have more short-term blessings.