This is one of the most misquoted Bible verses, and is also usually taken out of context. In this blog post, we take a look at what this verse actually says, and what it means in its context.
Here's the misquote verse in its context:
Do not eat the bread of a miser,
Nor desire his delicacies;
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
But his heart is not with you.
(Proverbs 23:6-7 NKJV)
First, notice that it doesn’t say, “As a man thinks in his heart… ”, it says, “As he thinks in his heart…”
So, who is “he”? As the context makes clear, “he” is a “miser” (i.e. a stingy person) who happens to be your host. Though “he” tells you to “eat and drink”, he doesn’t really mean it, because in his heart he is concerned about how much it cost him! His internal thoughts reflect who he realise is i.e. “a miser”. This is all “as he thinks in his heart, so is he” means. The NIV does a great job in translating this proverb contextually:
Do not eat the food of a begrudging host,
do not crave his delicacies;
for he is the kind of person
who is always thinking about the cost.
“Eat and drink,” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
(Proverbs 23:6-7 NIV)
So, here is the simple lesson this proverb is teaching: if you know someone is a stingy person, don’t be deceived by their generous words and don’t take them up on their offer. In their heart, they are still stingy!
Verses marked NIV are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Verses marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers. Verses marked NKJV are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Verses marked NLT are from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Quotations marked NEB are from The New English Bible: The New Testament © ‘The
Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1961, 1970.