Domestication of bees was an established industry in the world of Solomon’s day. In fact, a well-developed apiary – domesticated bee hives – has even been excavated at a major Israelite city from his time.
Honey was used for a variety of purposes. It was used as a salve for sores, in preparation of medicines and in religious rituals and well as for food.
This verse notes its primary use – as food. Probably the sweetener par excellence in the ancient world, this wise saying is actually a warning about honey.
“If you find honey” suggested wild honey. The average Israelite probably did not have access to domesticated honey. It would have been a special treat to find some and was presumably only eaten occasionally.
“Eat just enough – too much of it, and you will vomit.” While honey tastes great and even has numerous health benefits, it isn’t good to eat too much at one time.
That’s a truth about so many things in the world I like! I struggle with moderation.
If something tastes good, I want more! If something is good for me, I tend to overdo that, too.
In so many areas of my life I try to do too much too fast or too often and actually wind up counteracting any positive effect it should have in my life.
Honey was considered a wonderful blessing in antiquity and greatly appreciated. But, as the modern wise saying goes – “too much of a good thing is not a good thing!”
And just in case we didn’t the message, Solomon will remind us again later in this chapter (:27)!