God’s Word for You
Proverbs 23:6-8 the devil is never your friend
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, December 29, 2018
6 Do not eat any food belonging to a stingy man,
do not long for his delicacies.
7 For what he is really thinking about
“Eat and drink,” he says,
but his heart is not with you.
8 You will vomit whatever you have eaten
and your compliments will have been wasted.
This passage is about a stingy man, although the simple understanding of ra-ayin is “an evil eye.” In the only other occurrence of this pairing (Proverbs 28:22) we once again meet someone who “is eager to get rich.” On the other hand, in Proverbs 22:9 we meet a man with a tov-ayin, “good eye,” who “shares his food with the poor.” So the translations are right to say “stingy” or “good” in these contexts. This is a man who is a hypocrite. He doesn’t give from a generous heart, but only thinking of what he will lose if he gives.
The first line of verse 7 is not easy to understand. The words are something like, “For when he reckons in his heart, thus is he.” NIV proposes three possible interpretations. The main text (NIV-1978) is:
For he is the kind of man / who is always thinking about the cost.
The first footnote (NIV-1978):
For as he thinks within himself / so he is.
The second footnote (1978):
For as he puts on a feast, / so he is.
I have tried to translate as close to the Hebrew text as possible, which, I believe, is more in line with NIV’s first footnote.
Verse 8 shows the nausea and emptiness anyone is left with after such an encounter. Better to have found berries in the forest than to have sat at that stingy man’s banquet.
This passage is a reminder that the devil is also one who never has anyone’s interests at heart but his own. He invites men and women to his banquet of temptations, and he makes it seem with his actions that everyone is welcome, but “what he is really thinking about is himself.” His heart is not with you. As I tell my Catechism classes, the devil is always a jerk; he is never your friend. He wants to hurt God by stealing away his children, but you are God’s child through faith in Christ. Better to have found manna in the desert than to have sat at the devil’s banquet. Praise God for the gifts he gives, and do not ask for more than you require.
Pastor Timothy Smith
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