“When you sit down to eat with a ruler, observe carefully what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite. Do not desire his delicacies for they are deceptive food.” (Proverbs 23.1-3) I always picture being at the right side of the table, white linen tablecloth, candles, the king wearing some feathery hat and in the middle of a conversation with me, and the knife being a butter knife clutched and pressed to my right thigh. Peculiar enough, though, I never imagine any food (only a desert). Also, peculiar to me is that I can always sense this longing or great desire- as if I am starving.
The point of the verse is to pay attention to who you are, how you present yourself, and whose company you are in. This advice is not only practical, but spiritual as well (Proverbs 3.4).
What about the delicacies!? Think of Uriah. In 2 Samuel 11 David finds Bathsheba to be a delicacy of sorts. Having sired a child he calls for Bathsheba’s husband in hopes that Uriah will spend time with his wife and think the child is his own. Yet, Uriah refuses, sleeping “at the door of the king’s house”. Uriah has fulfilled the metaphor of putting a knife to his throat in a show of self-denial.
This life is filled with distractions and blessings. Yes, I list them together because our blessings can become distractions. Remember what Jesus said about the difficulties the rich will have making it to Heaven (Matthew 19.16ff)? We are children of the One true King. A king who promises to bless us graciously. We cannot let the blessings of this life become a distraction; remembering always that we are ever before Him. And how He perceives us (our heart) is more important than the sweetness any delicacy of this world.
The parable continues, in verse 6, to interchange the King with a man who is stingy. The Hebrew in verse 7 reveals he is calculating; revealing not a Holy King, but the prince of this world. Our adversary would love for us to feast on the pleasures of this life; forgetting ourselves and engorging on temporal delights. But, we are called to always remember in whose presence we stand. Self-denial for the duration of our battle. Let the King see- His words are most important to our lives.