In my Bible class yesterday, we covered this passage in Proverbs 23:29-35. Listen to this:
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
32 In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your heart utter perverse things.
34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.[a]
35 “They struck me,” you will say,[b] “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I must have another drink.”
This is one of those passages in Proverbs that is almost visual. I mean, as you read these words, you form a picture in your mind – in this case, of a man who is singing “woe is me.” He is injured, staggering, sick, redness of eyes. And, the cause of his condition if given. He has been drinking. He is intoxicated.
Now, wisdom would be – if you have all these awful symptoms, and you know what the cause is – you stop making those choices. In this case, you stop getting drunk.
But the person described here isn’t operating on wisdom. He or she isn’t processing their condition in such a way to chose sobriety. What happens in verse 35?
The drunk gets up and asks for another drink!
In this same context, in the earlier verses, gluttony is condemned.
Now I’ve often said – when fools are described in Proverbs, the purpose is to send us away from that behavior toward wisdom. So in this passage where intoxication is dramatically described – what is being recommended is sobriety, self-control.
Prov. 20:1 says that “wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
I would ask my listeners to consider this about alcohol. I’m quoting from an article written by Sewell Hall in 1989, Christianity Magazine.
“…the very first effect of alcohol is to make one feel a little freer to do things he would not otherwise do … and a little less able to say “No” to things he would normally refuse; to make it a little harder to stand for what is right or even to know what is right.”
While gluttony is to be avoided by self-control. Alcohol is a substance that has impact in our minds as soon as we partake.
“Whoever is deceived by it is not wise.”