The Wisdom of Solomon for Shopping, Eating and Dining
When thou sittest to eat with a ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat.
Proverbs 23:1-3 KJV
One thing is clear about our modern 21st century world is that we are ruled by big corporations. Some of them, particularly those in the food industry are global, household brands. They should be mistrusted and all that they offer must be carefully considered before making a decision to part with your money and consume their products. I am particularly thinking of anything that is physically swallowed such as foods, herbal remedies, and pharmaceuticals. It is really worth considering the Wisdom of Solomon particularly enlightening in the Amplified Version.
When you sit down to dine with a ruler, Consider carefully what is [set] before you; For you will put a knife to your throat If you are a man of great appetite. Do not desire his delicacies, For it is deceptive food [offered to you with questionable motives].
Proverbs 23:1-3 (AMP)
What I like about this Proverb, and I have looked at three translations, is that we are encouraged to think very carefully about what has been placed before us. He says that we are to resist these wonderfully presented products as they are offered with deceitful motives. What can this mean? Well, the love of money is a root of all evil, not money itself but the love of money. It is almost safe to assume that any global, profit-making corporation will love profit and money. This will also be an intrinsic value of the ruling CEOs and management and perhaps many share-holders who are creating personal wealth. I am not saying that of ‘all’ because there is nothing wrong with building financial security for yourself and loved ones if you are able to avoid the ‘love of money’. Incidentally, the following verse in Proverbs says, ‘will you set your eyes upon wealth, when suddenly it is gone? For riches certainly make themselves wings, like an eagle that flies towards the heavens. Solomon is saying that we are not be lured into consuming these dainties or products or things that immediately speak to our sensual natures – our five senses. He is also saying, ‘put a knife to your throat if you are someone given to appetite. I am not quite sure what this means but could it mean that you must effectively cut off the very channel to consume these things by denying them even if it is uncomfortable. Alternatively, could it mean that if you are a person given to appetite for these things, that you risk dying from consuming them? Really, there is so much that can be gleaned from this Proverb.
Sometimes Solomon proverbs can seem very strange but when you see how they can relate to a situation then they give up their sparkling wisdom. For all we know, this Proverb means something entirely different but equally wise to a different generation or a different world economy. Since Solomon is apparently the richest man that ever lived, I expect he knew a thing or two about wealth.
When I worked in a supermarket for a few years, in fact since one was taken over by another serving two very different demographics, I saw first-hand how questionable their motives were. Both had, as part of their brand, an awareness of animal welfare, fairness to the third world, staff welfare and care of the environment. However, they both had one simple agenda – to get as much food down the necks of as many people as possible. If they could force-feed their customers like foie gras geese they would have done so. Both supermarkets were apparently profit-sharing either with the partnership of the staff or as profit dividends to customers. This all sounds good and to a certain extent it is far better than other supermarkets. Yet both exploited staff by paying minimum wage, only offering part-time work to new staff and thus avoid pension contribution and designed the shifts so that part-time workers never had breaks. It made me wonder if they were dishonest about other aspects of their so-called ethical brand. They were both determined to out-compete competitors and to make maximum profit for their high-salaried management. At Christmas, customers were offered a staggering array of tempting goodies and delicacies and over-inflated prices. It was the same at Easter and any other occasion. After Christmas they would offer a staggering array of slimming products to apparently help customers slim down after the Christmas surplus – how kind of them?
Every day serving thousands of customers I was constantly amazed at the size of people’s shopping trolleys and the large sums of money people paid. Often they were tired or sad having worked long hours earning money to pay for these delicacies offered by rulers with questionable motives. Usually they were back within a few days and I was left wondering if they had consumed their food earlier in the week and whether they had wasted much or had particularly hungry families. One woman told me her sons ‘ate like horses’ so I jokingly suggested she tossed them some bails of hay to munch on.
Food was always displayed to be as tempting as possible and much research goes into product placement such as putting everyday essentials such as milk and bread as far away from the exit as possible so that customers have to walk past all their goodies. Who wants to be manipulated like this? We could all just shop from fewer aisles of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish etc. If you go wondering into the aisles of baked goods, and processed foods and highly processed high sugar, ‘non foods’, you are most certainly venturing into the territory of the ruler with deceitful dainties. These factory-produced items are the ones that have a high mark-up price and make the most profit due to cheap ingredients.
These things are making people very ill as they suffer obesity, diabetes and all their complications. We can all fall prey to this and nobody should feel bad if they have been lured and hypnotised by clever marketing, particularly if they have used food to self-medicate when feeling bad about themselves or life in general. These crafty rulers know how to catch us. The combination of fats and sugars affect our biochemistry in such a way that we can eat almost an unlimited supply. If we were to eat just pure fat or pure sugar alone we would soon feel sick. Combine these two things together and you can able to consume huge quantities and still crave more. I suspect that these hidden sugars are deliberately placed in food items not needing sweetening, just to create an addictive response. I remember eating a jar of convenience sauce as an easy meal and developing an inexplicable hunger and craving to eat more. It stimulated my appetite.
Let us view the things that are offered to us with caution and discernment. The wisdom of old is timeless. We in the Western world live in a society of high consumerism, unlike other societies who just take what they need yet nurture and tend to their environment. This hypnotic madness is doing us no favours and impoverishing our minds, health and family-life and finances.
However, we can find grace for every situation in Christ even when we shop, dine-out and eat-in. We are free in Him by boldly coming to the throne of grace in times of trouble even if that means being tempted to over-spend or over-eat.
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