“When you sit down to eat with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you; And put a knife to your throat if you are one given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, for they are deceptive food.” -Ancient Proverb
What do you want to bet that this rich nugget is referring to more than just dinner manners? To be honest, even though the immediate application is good advice, it is more likely this reference has to do with something much deeper. Remember when dealing with the Proverbs, the writer is usually hiding a more profound nugget of truth within the illustration being used. The readers of the day would relate to what was being said and then could go from there to something that gets more to the heart of the matter. And what might that be? First, you need to put the down the knife before you hurt yourself. Could it be that this Proverb is referring to our very own real human appetites? The word for appetite is actually the same word for life. It is the seat of one’s emotions and passions. Wisdom would tell us to carefully discern what is set on our table. What appetites rule your life? What are your weaknesses? Where are you most vulnerable? To what do you give your passions? That word give is also used of foreign gods. This Proverb is asking a very weighty question. To what “foreign gods” are you willing to give your life? What appetite would you be willing to satisfy for the price of your soul? That’s pretty heavy, but then again what do you expect when you find pure gold? Be warned: This kind of scenario plays out most every day at work, in board rooms, at negotiating tables, in the privacy of your office, and in every day relationships. When you sit down at the table with one who attempts to exercise dominion over you, whether that be yourself, a boss, a friend, or even an unassuming salesman, if your foreign gods have anything to say about it, you will allow your appetite to make the decision unless you correctly discern what is being set before you and have your appetites in check. Remember many a life was lost because of a touch of gold fever and the lure of wealth untold.