As part of the Wisdom literature, the Book of Proverbs is literally full of wisdom. Chapter 23 is certainly no exception. Having already given warning about hanging around with drunkards in verses 21-22, the author turns his attention back to the subject of alcohol for the last several verses of the chapter. No other subject has captured the attention of the author for such an extended contiguous writing so far in these proverbs.
The Bible has plenty of examples of the folly and lasting consequences that man can bring on himself (and others) when he voluntarily surrenders his wisdom to drunkenness. For example, one need only read about the depravity of Lot with his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38), or the death of King Elah of Israel (1 Kings 16:8-10) for very costly examples. But this chapter’s attention to the subject does a pretty good job with advice on drunkenness. Part of the passage is included below, including a couple of better known verses on the subject.
We see clear examples today all of the time in broken marriages, unwanted pregnancies, domestic violence, and many other social ills. Alcohol abuse has destroyed the earthly happiness of so many lives for thousands of years; and still man is drawn to the “sparkle” that lies to him.
Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?
Those who tarry long over wine;
those who go to try mixed wine.
Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.
In the end it bites like a serpent
and stings like an adder.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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