“When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive.”Proverbs 23: 1-3 (NIV)
Our culture does not boast in its self-control. And yet, that is exactly what this Proverb is promoting–the fruit of the Spirit of self-control. What do we do when we are around wealth and power and things that we do not have? Do we crave those things? Do we let them have influence over us? Or are we content in the face of what we lack, and therefore become people of greater influence?
Proverb 23:1-3 says it is better to put a knife to your throat than to crave the delicacies of a king. That is a very strong statement! Why do you think Solomon states this so dramatically?
I believe that God will bring us to places of influence. But if we lose focus on his mission for us in the presence of rulers and kings (not literal kings in our lives, but our bosses and people of authority over us) and start focusing on what they have that we want to have, our motives become muddy, and we can begin to do things or say things just to get approval from these people in power to have our wants met. If we fall into that trap, we are defeated, because our will to say and do the difficult things God wants us to say or do will be undermined by our desire to please the powerful people around us.
A great Biblical example for us–of those who did not eat from the king’s table (both literally and figuratively) are Daniel and his friends, who were taken to the palace of the king of Babylon as exiles to be tested and to see if they were worthy of entering the king’s service. Daniel 1:5 tells us, “The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table.” One might think that that luxury of food from the king’s table would be a comfort to Daniel and his friends who had been exiled nobility from their own country. But for whatever reason which we can only conjecture, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah refused to be “defiled” (Dan. 1: 8 ) with the royal food and wine, and begged to eat only vegetables and water.
I would suggest that Daniel knew the value of Proverbs 23. The question at hand was, Who are you going to let influence you more, God, or the deceit of wealth and influence? I believe their stand on the food was what brought about the blessings they were given by God.
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds,”Daniel 1:17 (NIV)
“In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in the whole kingdom.”Daniel 1:20 (NIV)
These gifts of wisdom, knowledge and dream-interpretation are only mentioned after their time of fasting from the riches of the food of the king’s table. God had found them trustworthy before Him. They would not choose self-interest and self-promotion before the will and purpose of the Lord.
If you are familiar with the book of Daniel, you will find the rest of it full of the stories of how these men followed in the same way they began–they chose to let God be their influence rather than to try to earn favor with the earthly king whom they served. We find that this willingness to follow God led them into awesome circumstances, where they got to see how He would rescue them from a fiery furnace, from a whole den of lions, and from a mad king who had a bad dream. This was not only for their benefit, but to show the glory of God to those around them who did not know their God. And because they did not choose the lesser means of influencing people–by trying to please the king and be like him; they influenced the entire Babylonian nation by the higher means of influence–living a life of self-control, love for your enemies, and honor to God’s will above all else. Their refusal to try to earn the favor of kings kept earning them honor from the kings they served. In doing so, the King of Heaven honored their lives.
So, likewise, let us be people of influence, by choosing to honor the Lord instead of seeking to gain earthly comforts, so we can see how amazing our God really is!
Father, I pray that you would give us the wisdom to discern our motives and choose to honor you above honoring the people of influence over our lives so that we can be outstanding and glorify you with our lives. Amen!
Copyright 2011 Maureen Silveyra
First posted July 23, 2011 on Alpenglow Devos http://alpenglowdevos.wordpress.com/