Too Much is Too Much
16 Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it. 17 Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour’s house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
1. These two verses comprise one single and simple proverbial thought: Too much is too much.
2. It is a warning against overdoing anything. Even too much of a good thing is too much.
The Illustration: Honey (vs.16)
1. Solomon uses an illustration from everyday life that everyone in his kingdom (and everyone reading this proverb) could relate to.
2. In Solomon’s day, the sweetest treat was honey, or something made from honey. And everybody loves sweets.
3. In the illustration, Solomon mentions four steps relating to honey.
a. Finding it
b. Eating it
c. Being filled with it
d. Vomiting it
4. Finding it
a. Honey was not usually purchased in a store in a jar.
b. We have a few occurrences of men “finding” honey in the woods by chance.
c. Saul’s son Jonathan found honey and ate it.
d. Sampson found honey in the carcass of a lion.
e. These men found it by chance. They happened to stumble upon it as they were traveling in the woods.
f. This was considered a fabulous find too! Honey was greatly valued and desired. This was good fortune! You didn’t find honey every day.
g. Sweets are so accessible to us, that we probably can’t relate to “finding honey” in our travels. But it was a real find in Solomon’s day.
5. Eating it
a. Obviously, the next step after finding honey is to eat it!
b. But the warning here is to eat only so much as is “sufficient.” They were warned to eat just enough and no more.
c. Honey tastes great. It is enjoyable and pleasurable.
d. There is a tendency with things that we love to go overboard.
e. When it comes to sweets, the tendency is to eat too much.
f. Thus, Solomon warns, don’t eat too much honey. Eat only that which is sufficient to satisfy and no more.
g. You may FEEL like eating more, but don’t.
6. Being filled with it
a. Filled: Can mean satisfied, and it can also mean excess, having too much, more than enough, etc.
b. It clearly means being overly full in this passage. It speaks of excess… eating too much honey.
c. Solomon is speaking of going beyond satisfaction to excess.
d. Sweets are good, but there is a reasonable and sensible limit.
7. Vomiting it
a. The fourth step Solomon describes is vomiting… which needs no further description.
b. The warning is that if we eat more honey than is sufficient, we will become excessively full, and that can make you sick.
c. Something that you love can, if overindulged in, make you very sick.
d. It can make you sick enough to vomit—and thus your body rejects the honey… the honey that you used to love.
e. If the experience is bad enough, in some cases, it causes the person to hate honey. The taste, smell, or even the thought of honey might make you sick.
f. Thus, the warning, “don’t overdo it!”
The Application: Your Neighbor (vs. 17)
1. In verse 16, Solomon gave a warning concerning honey that consisted of four steps.
a. Finding it
b. Eating it
c. Being filled with it
d. Vomiting it
2. In verse 17, he gives a similar warning concerning dropping into your neighbor’s house which consists of three steps.
a. Withdraw your foot from your neighbor’s house.
b. Lest he be weary of thee.
c. And so hate thee.
3. Finding a friend and visiting him/her.
a. This is parallel to Solomon’s illustration of finding honey and eating it.
• The Dictionary of Biblical Languages defines the “neighbor” as “friend; companion; associate; i.e., a person which one associates with and for whom there is affection and personal regard.”
b. The term can also be used of the person who lives next door or of a fellow countryman.
c. It seems likely that Solomon had something a little more specific than a stranger next door or just any other person who lives in the same country.
d. Solomon seems to be speaking about a friend or a companion.
e. Like finding honey on a lark in the woods, when you find a friend, it is a great find.
f. You don’t find honey or friends every day, so when you do come across a friend, it is valuable and the relationship is to be prized.
g. Finding a friend is like finding honey by chance. And visiting your friend and spending time together is like eating the honey.
h. Of course when you first find honey, the tendency is to gobble it all up because you love it so much. It is so pleasing to the taste.
i. The tendency with friends is the same. When you first come across a friend, the tendency is to visit and call them all the time.
j. When a person finds honeycomb in the woods, the tendency is to eat the whole thing… to gobble it all up at one.
k. When a person finds a friend whose company is enjoyed, the tendency is to monopolize his/her time. The tendency is to pop over their house without notice, call frequently, and be “clingy.”
l. The warning Solomon gave concerning honey, was intended also to be applied to one’s friends.
• Eat sufficient honey to be enjoyable, but not too much. Don’t overdo it.
• The same advice goes with your friends too. Spend sufficient time with them, but don’t overdo it. Don’t go overboard.
• “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor’s house.”
1. The word withdraw means “make rare” or seldom.
2. The admonition is, don’t visit too often.
• Even though you both may enjoy one another’s company, too much time together is too much.
• That person may genuinely want to be your friend, but he/she may also want to be friends with others too.
• The warning is, don’t be clingy, don’t force yourself on someone, don’t monopolize their time. Don’t expect that they should spend every spare minute they have with you!
4. Lest he be weary of thee.
a. Being weary of you is parallel to being “full” of honey.
b. It is good to have a taste of honey now and then. But you can have too much of a good thing.
c. It is possible to overdo anything, including spending time with your friend.
d. By visiting too frequently, by monopolizing their time, by calling on the phone habitually, you can make your friend WEARY of the relationship.
e. It doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t like you. It just means that enough is enough.
f. The man who got full on honey likes the honey. But he needed to exert self control and not go overboard… or he would be full… too full… honey in excess.
g. Weary: The word translated “weary” in verse 17 is the very same Hebrew word translated “full” in verse 16.
h. In other words, by overstaying your visit, by calling too frequently, by popping in your neighbor’s house too many times, your friend can become FULL of you… just like a man who eats too much honey is FULL of honey.
5. And so hate thee.
a. This is strong language. In the illustration, this is parallel with vomiting.
b. Eating too much honey makes a man sick and causes his body to reject what he has ingested.
c. Popping into your neighbor’s house or calling on the phone too often can also make your friend “sick and tired of you!”
d. Eating too much honey causes the body to reject and vomit out the honey it just ate.
e. Spending too much time with your friend can cause your friend to want to reject being with you too.
f. Too much, even of a good thing, is too much.
g. Solomon’s point has also been recorded in some non Biblical proverbs:
• “After the third day fish and company become distasteful.”
• “Familiarity breeds contempt.”
h. It’s kind of difficult to think of, but if I visit my friend too often and become a nuisance, and he gets sick of me, I am like the vomit in the illustration! That is disturbing enough to make me stop and think about my actions.
i. If the experience of vomiting up honey is bad enough, in some cases, it causes the person to hate honey. The taste, smell, or even the thought of honey might make you sick.
j. This can happen in a friendship too.
k. The one that used to be such a good friend, the one whose company and fellowship was so sweet, can develop a hatred for you!
l. Hate: Means hate; hostility; dislike; shun.
m. He/she might hate to see you walking up the driveway; they may hate to see your number pop up on the phone; they may hate to see your face!
n. Too much of a good thing is too much.
6. This is a good warning for all of us.
a. Learn the lesson of the honeycomb. Everybody loves honey; and it’s great to eat a little, but don’t overdo it.
b. You may end up hating honey. It might end up making you sick.
c. Friends, like honey, are pleasant in moderation, but quite disagreeable when overdone.
d. And learn the lesson of overworking a friendship.
• Visit your friends, but not excessively.
• Don’t force yourself on people.
• Let friendship develop naturally.
• Don’t be clingy.
• Don’t monopolize your friends’ time.
e. Forcing ourselves on someone or monopolizing a friend’s time is really quite selfish. It is all about satisfying MY desire without considering others. You might love it, but it could make them sick.
f. If you really love your friends, be considerate. It is a matter of good manners.
7. Hebrews 4:16 – Of course, there is one Friend to whom we can come daily… hourly… moment by moment and never wear out our welcome – the throne of grace! What a Friend we have in Jesus!