What should one do when invited to dinner by a person of influence and power? This is what the writer of Proverbs addresses in the first three verses of chapter 23. For many this would be the time to indulge themselves - live it up - you're eating with the ruler! But the counsel of Solomon is to consider what is before you. Let's look at reasons why we should be careful when we eat with a ruler or person of great authority.
First, we should never go into any situation without our wits intact. It is very unwise to go anywhere without the wisdom of God. In the moment that you think it is perfectly safe and you do not need to be wise and judicious, you will find that this is the place the devil has set up for a major attack. Always consider what is before you - where you are - what is proper - and what is wise.
Why is this the case when being invited by a ruler to dinner? First we need to consider just "who" is before us. That is the gist of what the writer of Proverbs is saying to us. A ruler is not in the habit of just inviting anyone to eat with him. There may be an ulterior motive in this meeting - a test that is set before you in addition to the food itself. Second, there is the realization that when you eat with a ruler you will probably have the finest of everything. There are those who after such a meal would immediately go out into the world and decide they are going to eat the same way. There are foods and drinks that are ridiculously priced simply because the rich and powerful want to be different from the rest of the world. I've seen restaurants that serve tiny little portions of food and yet charge outrageous prices - simply because poeple who are rich and who frequent that restaurant will pay the prices to do so. What a sad commentary on the pride of man this is - yet it happens. One thing you should consider is that you are NOT a ruler - and that though it will be cool to eat that way that evening - life will return to normal tomorrow. Though you eat with a ruler - and he thinks his food is best, truth does not rest with the ruler - but with God who created all things to enjoy. Finally, consider that often the fare of kings is usually indulgent. This is not the best food for you anyway. There are a multitude of stories where the king or ruler only ate delicacies -but in the end - his super-indulgent food unfortunately was his demise as diseases that come with such eating habits cut his life short.
This is why verse 2 says that we should "put a knife to your throat if you are a man of great appetite." In layman's terms - don't make a pig of yourself. Don't let your appetite take over at this moment. Keep your wits about you as you sit and dine with him. It is unwise to let our appetites run loose in any situation. Remember, we are fallen and sinful. Our entire nature has been affected by sin. Thus to trust your own intense desires is to get yourself into a world of hurt in the long run. Thus . . . put a knife to your throat. Wow, what a strong statement. He doesn't say, "eat in moderation." He says, "Put a knife at your own throat." Remember dear one, that the farmer puts quite the buffet out for his pigs and cattle. They can eat to their heart's content thinking all is innocent. Yet the truth is that they are being fattened for the slaughter. Oh, how we need to consider such things when wanting to give ourselves to our own appetites.
The third verse of this proverb tells us not to desire the delicacies of the king - because it is deceptive food. Here is the line where the rubber hits the road. This food is deceptive. It is not reality! The ruler and the one in authority eats much different than we do. If you don't think this is the case - look at the daily table that Solomon had put before him. That portion was tremendous. That is the reminder to keep before us at feasts. Enjoy them with wisdom guiding your mind and behavior, but do not think this is the norm - nor should you give yourself over to a pursuit of such a lifestyle. It is interesting to note that the following verses after these warn against the pursuit of wealth.
A time of feasting is wonderful when it happens, and if you get the opportunity to dine with a ruler that is even more a blessing. But be careful and allow wisdom to guide your mind and heart as you do. There are dangers here as there are in anything you do. You may be sitting at a table where your actions are being judged. You also may be tempted to give yourself to an appetite that will mislead you. Finally, you may be led by your selfish desires to want a lifesytle exactly like the ruler with whom you dine. To do so would be foolish and would plunge you into a pursuit that is outside the will of God for your life. I know it sounds severe - but put that knife to your own throat as you do so. It will help you enjoy what is before you - and when you leave - you will still have your heart and your wits about you as you return to much more standard fare of those who are everyday people.