When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you
This proverb teaches conduct around a superior. How are you to act when you are in the presence of a leader above yourself?
It clearly follows, as advice, the verse that ends chapter 22. If you are gifted and skilled enough to be noticed by great men or rulers, then be prepared to be ushered into the presence of luxuries and delicacies that will be extremely tempting. This is almost like a warning: no matter what you see and no matter how bad you want it, hold yourself back; show restraint, moderation, and control over your desires or you won’t be in the presence of great people long.
The caution is that you should not act naturally or casually but instead should realize who you are with a person who makes decisions about you and your future. A little forethought and self-control in these instances goes a long way.
sit down to dine: This is a key phrase and needs to be explored. To dine with someone in the ancient world of the Bible suggests a level of interest, intimacy, or examination. It’s as if you have been invited to have lunch with your boss or have been asked to eat with a person who could make or break your career.
ruler: This is a boss or king or someone who is clearly in authority over you and eating a meal with you. This is past a business context and offers an opportunity to relax and/or get beneath the surface. Solomon’s practical advice is that you do not seem too eager to consume or have what they may offer.
The ability to control your desires is crucial to moving up in responsibility. Many people cannot understand why they do not get promoted or why they are not brought into the confidence of some very important person. It is often because they do not exercise enough self-control.
I fully expect that this will one day be read by my great-grandchildren whom I will never meet and whom I will not have the privilege of training on what to look out for and how to conduct themselves when they are invited to eat with a girlfriend’s parents, when they are invited out by the bosses at the company, or when an agent offers to take them out to a meal. So I want them to realize that God has left this inspired, permanent record of what to do in all kinds of situations. God had Solomon – one of the richest and wisest kings in all of human history – record insights into how to live. Pay attention to what God is saying through Solomon. In this case Solomon says: Don’t relax; remember who you are with, eat less than you would, and don’t give into temptations.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.