Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 30:22
"Under a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when he is satisfied with food"
This verse is the continuation of four conditions which cause a meltdown of normal social conditions.
The first: When a slave becomes king refers to the troubling reality of one who has never known authority in any small measure and all of a sudden is very powerful. He may be very good at rebellion or destruction but not good at ruling and understanding the macro issues that control a whole business or region or country.
I have watched this happen in a few instances. When a man or woman who has never experienced any promotions or larger authority but has always remained on or near the bottom of the chain of authority is elevated to a leadership role in a church or civic organization, it often spells disaster. They do not know how to moderate their position. They can often only be critical. They also often don't know anything but overly negative authority and punishment, and that is what they mete out to those in the organization.
There are also situations around the world in which a person who has never had authority rallies students or other easily influenced people to their cause and leads a coup and becomes – even as the text says – the king of a country. This is usually a disaster because this person has not had the requisite experience in governing. This person will usually – in an attempt to rectify one injustice – create five other injustices. They do not understand the interconnectedness of things.
Another way that this subtly takes place is when a professor or teacher plants an unproven idea in the mind of a student. The student does not know that this is just the theoretical speculation of a professor who has never led anything. The student believes that the professor is right and the idea will work. So the student internalizes the idea or cause and then pushes on to leadership always trying to push the idea or cause that he embraced in the classroom by the slave professor who has never had real world experience. The student does not know that the idea will not work, and so he uses it until it destroys what he is trying to lead.
a fool when he is satisfied with food
This proverb is interesting in that it says when people are selfish, they only think of themselves and one of their most dominant needs is to eat. If they somehow have this need met so that they do not have to think about collecting, cooking, and eating food, then their selfish mind is freed up to think of what other selfish impulses could they fulfill. These usually move in the money, sex, power, drugs, alcohol, or thrills department.
The writer of this proverb is saying that unleashing a selfish person from the burden of having to worry about where the next meal is coming from does not improve the situation; it unleashes their selfishness on other people and causes the earth not to be able to hold up.
Our culture is now not making an important distinction in terms of those who have less food than they need to live on. In the past, society made a distinction between those who were going without because they were truly victims of others or an act of God and those whose selfishness were the reason for their lack. Those who were truly victims were given what they needed and more to get back on their feet. Those who became poor or indigent because they would not work or because of alcoholism or drug abuse or some selfish pursuit would not be given food unless they entered into a program that monitored and controlled their time and showed them how to work and control their impulses. Unfortunately our society is involved in giving out bad compassion which only exacerbates the selfishness of these folks. And the earth cannot hold up.
On a practical matter – if you want to give money or donations to help those who are down and out, do it through a charity that makes these kinds of distinctions – usually a rescue mission or other charity who has seen it all and understands how to really help people put their lives back together after the ravages of selfishness have destroyed everything.
When you are trying to really help people, you cannot just be nice and give out supplies to anyone who wants them or you may be guilty of satisfying a fool with food. Instead we need to give food and clothing and goods through a system that will make the important distinction of why is this person without? And are they willing to work and rebuild their lives?
This is why almost every good rescue mission has a program that folks have to join or they cannot receive the maximum benefit.