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Bible: What Does Proverbs 23-24 Teach Us About Workaholism and Alcoholism?

Updated on September 15, 2016

The Wisdom of Solomon

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The Unrighteous Wealthy

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Proverbs 23-24: Warnings Against Workaholism and Alcoholism; "Heart" Matters; Wisdom and Folly

Solomon issues a series of negative commands and analyses aimed at preventing certain practices.

According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs (BDB)—a Hebrew lexicon—the king's delicacies are disappointing food; that is, they do not taste as good as they look, or as you thought they would taste.

Therefore, curb your appetite (vv. 1-3).

The same advice pertains to dining with a miser, who resents your eating his food (vv. 6-8).

The king also warns against “workaholism” with a view toward becoming rich.

This attitude of loving money has a way of running (and ruining) your life.

Besides, he says, riches are fleeting; that is, they do not last very long (vv. 4-5; cf. 1 Tim. 6:9-10).

[In 1 Timothy 6, the Apostle Paul writes that false disciples desire great wealth because they love money.

This inordinate craving causes them to succumb to temptation and become caught in snares which lead them to indulge in “many foolish and harmful lusts.”

These uncontrolled desires eventually bring about their personal destruction and ruin (v. 9).

Paul omits specifying what lusts these are, probably because any lust will qualify.

Greed characterizes this idolatrous attraction to money; it always leads people astray from true moral teachings into “all kinds of evil,” and precipitates much discontentment (v. 10).]

Humanly speaking, the fatherless were among the most defenseless in Israel.

Solomon informs the one who had any thought of stealing from them to think again, for God, the orphan's Redeemer, would surely win His case against him (vv. 10-11; cf. Prov. 22:28).

Heart Matters

After exhorting obedience to his words (v. 12), the speaker continues his message to his son. He espouses corporal punishment of children (vv. 13-14; cf. 22:6, 15)—

[Why does he not consider the possible deleterious effects beating his son may have upon him?]

and then considers a variety of "heart" matters. Solomon shares what would bring him great joy: a son wise of heart and speech (vv. 15-16).

In light of eternity's reward, the king encourages Rehoboam (?) to fear God always, and not envy sinners, who often prosper in this life (vv. 17-18; cf. Ps. 73).

"Avoid companying with drunkards and gluttons" is the king's sage guidance to his son's heart (vv. 19-21).

Verses 26-28 contain a heart-to-heart warning about prostitutes.

[To which son is Solomon talking?]

Verses 22 and 24-25 concern themselves with family matters.

As a father, Solomon desires that his son obey him and not despise his elderly mother; by so doing, he will bring both of them great joy.

Through some telling imagery, the final section (vv. 29-35) provides a detailed account of alcohol's effects on judgment, conduct, consciousness, etc.

[Solomon learned most of these life lessons the hard way, so he is extremely anxious that his “favorite” son (and other sons) heed his counsel.

The king desires that his son might avoid the same kinds of pain that he endured].

The Fool

Wisdom: Sweet to the Taste

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Proverbs 24

Solomon continues to discuss wisdom and folly in a variety of life's circumstances.

First, he wisely warns his son against envying or associating with violent troublemakers, perhaps because he knew that such a rebellious, thrill-seeking attitude tempts "good" children to go astray (vv. 1-2).

Second, whether you are furnishing a home or waging a war, you require wisdom and its associates—understanding and knowledge—for success (vv. 3-6).

The foolish despise wisdom, and spend their abominable lives scheming and scoffing (vv. 7-9).

Since a wise man is strong (cf. v. 5), it is the fool who is too weak to endure trials (v. 10).

Honey and wisdom compare favorably to each other as to their sweetness; one appeals to the taste, the other to the spirit (vv. 13-14).

Verses 11-12 may or may not belong together.

Considered together, they picture a situation in which one individual can save another from impending disaster.

Professing ignorance of that possibility, the first person does not attempt a rescue; thus, the second party (supposedly) dies.

Solomon assures him that God knows the whole truth, and will judge everyone justly.

Addressing the wicked, the righteous, and his son respectively, Solomon exhorts each not to behave in a certain way.

Since the righteous one is resilient, he commands the wicked to stop planning the former’s downfall (vv. 15-16).

Joy is not the right attitude to manifest when your enemy (and God's) falls, for it may cause the LORD to show him mercy instead of judgment (vv. 17-18).

Also, believers have no reason to envy the wicked, since they die without hope (vv. 19-20).

Finally, he tells his son to respect both human and divine authority and, on the other hand, do not associate with those who want change through the rejection of those authorities (vv. 21-22).

Wisdom Sayings

Five wise sayings complete the chapter:

(1) Judge the wicked properly; seek judges who will not set them free, but will punish them (vv. 23-25).

(2) Answer a question correctly; it will bring favor (v. 26).

(3) Preparation and planning before building a house are wise actions (v. 27).

(4) Do not seek revenge (vv. 28-29).

(5) Solomon observes the condition of a sluggard's property, and tells why it is in such poor repair (vv. 30-34).

© 2013 glynch1

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