Archive for the ‘Proverbs 23’ Category

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 23:35 “They hit me,” you will say, “but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t fell it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?

The drunkard is insane! He drinks until he is senseless and cannot feel the pain he causes himself and others. Then he must sleep for hours or days to get rid of his miserable hangover. But as soon as he is awake, he goes straight for the bottle again. This proverb describes the shameful attitude and action of the drunkard, rather than his literal words.

The Preacher has already taught you, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise” (Pr 20:1). The proverb before you illustrates the mocking and raging consequences of drunkenness – the man is violently hurt by strong drink and foolishly mocked by wine, but he intends to drink even more, soon.

Solomon also listed the troubles of the drunkard, “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?” (Pr 23:29). In spite of such constant and miserable consequences, the drunkard returns again to much wine (Pr 23:30). Give me another one, he shouts obnoxiously!

The dog eats his own vomit, for his nature demands it (Pr 26:11). Pigs return to wallowing in the mud, for their nature demands it (II Pet 2:22). But the drunkard has no such natural instinct for self-destruction other than the deceitfulness of sin and the addicting properties of alcohol. “Whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise!” Stay away!

This proverb describes the bodily troubles often experienced by drunkards. They engage in brawls for no reason at all; they provoke fights they would otherwise avoid. They fall down steps and off chairs; they have auto accidents. But they feel little, for they are senseless to physical, mental, or spiritual perception. They are lost in their drunkenness!

And though the consequences of drunkenness are horrible, the drunkard continues to drink himself drunk. He can no longer deliver himself, though he has a lie in his right hand. He builds a horrible habit, gives place to the devil, and becomes a slave to alcohol. What could have been an asset is now a noose slowly choking him to death (Pr: 31:6-7).

Is the drunkard more stupid than other sinners? Hardly! All sins have short pleasure, great and long-lasting pain, and eternal judgment. Why do men love and continue in any sin? Is there hope for the drunkard? Certainly! All sinners may have great hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wrote, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 7:24-25).

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 23:31 Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!

Wine is very good (Gen 1:31). God created it to cheer the heart of man (Pr 31:6; Ps 104:14-15); Moses commended it for family worship (Deut 14:26); Jesus drank it and supplied it for a wedding (Luke 7:33-35; John 2:1-11); Paul endorsed it for communion (I Cor 11:20-22); faithful ministers defend its moderate use (I Tim 3:8; 5:23; Tit 2:3).

But unguarded or excessive affection for wine is condemned. Any thoughts toward drunkenness are sin (Pr 24:9; Eph 5:18), and only fools drink without sober regard for the danger and results of drunkenness (Pr 20:1; 23:29-30). Wine can be dangerous, if it is not kept in its proper place and used for its designed purpose, just like other creations.

After his warning about wine, there are two other lessons – how Pharisees pervert God’s word, and how to rightly divide it. Solomon wrote, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red.” Pharisees are literalists – they cannot see a figure of speech, even if it were in blazing neon! They condemn even looking at red wine from a Bible verse like this!

Assume their perversion of the verse is correct. If so, you may freely guzzle red wine as long as you do not look at it! Bring out the blindfolds and pass me a bottle! You may both look at and guzzle white wine! Bring out the white zinfandel! The chardonnay! The sauvignon blanc! The Riesling! Their perversion of scripture is obvious to thinking men.

If you literally apply this clause to looking at red wine, you condemn God, Moses, Jesus, Paul, and faithful ministers. The literalists are wrong.  Solomon did not condemn looking at red wine. He condemned unguarded or excessive affection for any wine, but he used the color of the basic wine of Israel, which was very red, like blood (Deut 32:14; Is 63:2). There is a figure of speech here, whether you see an ellipsis or a metonym of the adjunct.

Job said about marriage, “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1). Did Job never think about his maids? Could he think about a maid when hiring her? Could he bless her on her birthday? Could he think about giving her a raise? Of course! The condemnation of thinking there is to be understood sexually. Job’s covenant of marriage did not allow sexual thoughts or fantasies about a maid.

Jesus said about mental adultery, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman – hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matt 5:28). He did not condemn simply looking at another woman, for that is approved and necessary in ordinary society. But He did condemn looking at another woman “to lust after her.” And it is this sense that is the proper and true sense of the proverb here. Let God be true!

Wine in Solomon’s day had several attractive features – red color; depth, reflection, and shades of color in a good cup, and bubbles moving to the surface. These same features make wine visually attractive today, especially in a beautiful wine glass with appropriate sunshine, room lighting, or candlelight to enhance it. He admitted a strange woman may be beautiful (Pr 6:25); he admitted wine has an appeal you must soberly guard against.

This proverb is in the middle of a passage where Solomon condemned drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35). He did not condemn moderate drinking, which God and the Bible approve and commend: he condemned those who “tarry long at the wine” (Pr 23:30) and those who have the symptoms of severe drunkenness (Pr 23:29,34-35). If a man’s religion is based on the Bible, he knows God commends moderate drinking, but condemns drunkenness.

The Bible does not recognize alcoholism – is there such a thing? Alcoholics are properly called drunkards in Scripture. Drunkenness is drinking past reason until your senses no longer rightly recognize good and evil. Your imagination and speech are degraded to folly and sin (Pr 23:33) – the opposite goal of this book of wisdom. Because drunkenness is deceiving, it is often only others who can perceive your drunkenness.

Reader, take heed. Wine is very good. It is beautiful in a goblet. Its properties to relax your central nervous system and cheer you are very pleasant. But Solomon taught wisdom in Proverbs, and wise men will guard against excessive infatuation with wine and drink it only with prudent discipline. Abuse of wine can make a wise man a fool, quickly.

The lesson of this proverb applies indirectly to all creations and their abuse also. Pasta or pizza is just as dangerous as wine, in that gluttony is as much a sin as drunkenness. Infatuation with food or intemperate eating must also be avoided, for a person preoccupied with eating, or often eating more than he needs, will sin with this blessing. Godliness is moderation and temperance in all things (Eph 5:18; Phil 4:5; I Cor 9:24-27).

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 23:32 In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. 

What bites like a serpent and stings like an adder? Too much wine or other form of alcohol (Pr 23:30)! Drunkenness bites and stings those who drink too much. The consequences of drunkenness are painful, and a rule of wisdom is to never get drunk.

This short proverb is in the middle of Solomon’s warning against drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35). God created wine to calm and cheer man (Pr 31:4-7; Ps 104:14-15). But when it is foolishly drunk to excess, wine will bite and sting those drinkers with numerous wounds.

For those who love truth, it is very important to know that Solomon did not condemn the moderate use of wine or strong drink (Pr 3:10; 9:2,5; 31:4-7; Eccl 9:7; 10:19; Song 1:2,4; 4:10; 5:1; 7:9; 8:2). In agreement with Solomon, Old Testament saints and the Lord Jesus Christ drank wine (Gen 14:18; Deut 14:26; II Sam 6:19; Luke 7:33-34; John 2:1-11).

Solomon, confirming the rest of the Bible, condemned drunkenness, which is drinking to excess and losing self-control (Pr 20:1; 23:21; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:18; I Cor 6:10). The context of the proverb is clearly the abuse of wine causing drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35). But the moderate use of wine is as holy and noble as the moderate use of bread or oil (Ps 104:14-15). Abusing wine is a sin called drunkenness; abusing bread and oil is gluttony.

Bible readers ignorant of context or proverbial language think this proverb condemns all wine and strong drink. They assume the bite and sting are the tingling of champagne’s carbonation, the after-taste of dry wine, or the burning sensation of straight whiskey. But the proverb describes the consequences of drunkenness, not the taste of alcoholic drinks.

The bite and sting are results of drunkenness – “At the last,” as the proverb declares. Wine appears very pleasant in the glass (Pr 23:31), but its abuse can bring pain and trouble (Pr 23:29-35). In this sense it is as dangerous as the bite of a poisonous snake or sting of a venomous viper, which is the simile here. You should not play with either.

Consider the bite and sting of drunkenness. You will ruin your reputation with unplanned folly, like Noah and Lot (Pr 20:1; 23:33; 31:4-5; Gen 9:20-22; 19:30-38; Eccl 10:1). You will be reduced to poverty, like the prodigal (Pr 21:17; 23:21; Luke 15:13-14). You will have immediate sickness and eventual liver damage and death (Pr 23:29,34-35; Is 19:14).

The proverb applies to the abuse of any mood-altering chemical. Christians are told to reject the mood alterations of drunkenness and to instead choose the filling of the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18-19). There is no bite or sting in the Holy Ghost: there is joy and peace in believing: there is singing from a melody in your heart (Rom 14:17; 15:13; Eph 5:19).

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 23:20 Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat

America is a land of plenty. There is extreme abundance of everything, especially to eat and drink. Never has a nation had such affordable quantity and variety. While this degree of plenty is a blessing, it is also a temptation for two sins – drunkenness and gluttony.

Here is wisdom for all, but especially for young men. King Solomon warned his son about the importance of being wise and guiding his heart through life (Pr 23:19). There is a way to live that is noble and right regarding eating and drinking, but many live in a way that is ignoble and wrong. They sin against God by eating and/or drinking too much.

Both wine and food are gifts from God, but like any good thing, too much of either becomes a sin. God made bread for man’s strength, oil to provide essential fatty acids within and without, and wine to make his heart glad (Ps 104:14-15; Pr 31:6-7; Ec 10:19). But too much bread and oil lead to gluttony, and too much wine leads to drunkenness.

Young men, filled with the folly and vanity of youth, abuse things created for their profit (Pr 22:15; Ps 25:7; Eccl 11:10; II Tim 2:22). They have drinking contests and habits that promote drunkenness, and they have eating contests and habits that promote gluttony. They cannot see the shame, sin, or perversity of their actions. They need this proverb. They need parents, pastors, and teachers that will condemn their foolish practices.

The proverb is broader than condemning drunkenness and gluttony – Solomon wrote it to condemn associating with drunkards and gluttons. A wise young man that wants to be noble and virtuous in life will not choose friends that are gluttons or drunkards. He knows that choosing wise friends is essential to his own success (13:20; Ps 1:1-3; I Cor 15:33). He will search out sober and temperate young men that live disciplined loves at all times.

Two vices of young men are drunkenness and gluttony, and they have consequences, even if they are thought to be lesser sins than murder or adultery. They will destroy a man and bring him to poverty (Pr 23:21). Here is wise advice to young men. The party animals exalted in wicked nations, which see drunkenness and gluttony as harmless sports and rites of passage, are a sure symptom of the moral depravity of a sick society.

What is a winebibber? A person who drinks too much wine; a drunkard! The parallelism identifies a drunkard (Pr 23:21). Young men should reject any companions who drink to drunkenness, and wise parents must help them do so. Jesus was falsely accused of being a winebibber, or drunkard (Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34), because He drank wine moderately, different from John the Baptist, who drank none (Mark 14:25; Luke 1:15; John 2:1-11).

What is a riotous eater of flesh? A person who eats too much meat; a glutton! The context indicates by parallelism that a glutton is under consideration (Pr 23:21). Young men should reject any companions who eat foolishly or excessively, and wise parents will help them reject such fools. Jesus was falsely accused of being a glutton (Matt 11:19; Luke 7:34), because Jesus ate ordinary food that John the Baptist did not eat (Matt 3:4).

Drunkenness and gluttony are common sins in America. When was the last time you heard a sermon against gluttony? Never? How can you from a 300-pound pastor, with his 300-pound wife sitting in the choir? These types often rail long and loud against wine, while they eat another cherry pie topped with whipped cream and wash it down with a quart of sugared soda! It would be better to read Jonathan Edwards’ resolutions, looking for those about ruling his eating, which he wrote to himself while he was a late teenager.

College fraternities are notorious for eating and drinking parties – called drunkenness, excess of wine, revellings, rioting, surfeiting, and banquetings in the Bible (Luke 21:34; Rom 13:13; I Pet 4:3). America is drowning in the deep end of the moral cesspool when her institutions of higher learning allow or promote both vices, contrary to Scripture and reason. The princes of the earth that know their God will have nothing to do with them.

It is not the food, and it is not the wine, that causes the sins. It is a matter of the heart. Observe again that Solomon opened this warning about drunkenness and gluttony and those that commit these sins by referring to his son’s heart (Pr 23:19). You must purpose in your heart that you will not sin in these ways or associate with those who do, just as Daniel purposed in his heart to avoid the defiling food of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 1:8).

Wine does not cause drunkenness any more than food causes gluttony. Drunkenness is caused by a sinful human heart, not by wine. Gluttony is caused by a sinful human heart, not by food. God made both wine and food, and He made them both good when used for their intended purposes within constraints He gave. It is a sinful heart that rebelliously chooses to drink enough wine to get drunk or eat enough food to be a glutton.

A character trait of righteous and wise young men is temperance, a duty of Christians that is little understood today and even less practiced. It means self-discipline, a rule of life of the best athletes and something required to please God (Acts 24:25; I Cor 9:24-25; Gal 5:23; Titus 2:2; II Pet 1:6). It does not mean abstinence, as the Temperance Movement, which required total abstinence from alcohol in any form, tried to make the word mean.

God is holy; life is sober. Food is for strength; wine is for relaxation (Ps 104:14-15; Eccl 10:16-17). Food is not for gorging; wine is not for chugging. Drinking and eating contests are the marks of fools. Godly young men avoid such perverse excess, no matter what ridicule they endure, for they know God is coming in judgment for such sins (I Pet 4:4-5). They also reject any crowds or persons guilty of these sins to avoid the evil influence. Drunkards and gluttons, alongside sodomites, will not be in heaven (I Cor 6:9-11).

Under Gods Command
Proverbs 23:22 Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Honor your parents. Your life depends on it. Parents will weaken with age, but you still should honor them. God ordained parents, and He handpicked yours. He will generously reward those who honor parents (Eph 6:2-3), but He will destroy rebels (Pr 20:20; 30:17).

God planned for children to arrive in life helpless, so they do. He also planned they would grow to successful maturity under the affectionate care, instruction, and rule of parents. But this wise family relationship also depends on children honoring their parents.

God created the offices of father and mother, but He also chose the very persons who are your father and mother! When the great God brought you into existence, He did not ask you or your parents. He planned and executed a blind date for the three of you based on His perfect knowledge of all circumstances and possible outcomes of the arrangement. Humble yourself before your God-chosen parents. Obey them. Honor them. Love them.

The law of God and the rule of nature are to reverence fathers (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3; Mal 1:6; Eph 6:1-3; Heb 12:9). The LORD commanded death for offenders, even for speaking lightly or showing facial disrespect (Deut 27:16; Pr 30:17). Proper growth and maturity to face life, the orderliness of society, and the peace of homes depend on honor to fathers. It is dangerous times when this basic standard is compromised (Isaiah 3:5; II Tim 3:1-2).

Daily life with a father for 20-30 years exposes you to his faults and weaknesses, which can lead to familiarity. But the God of heaven has a warning for you – I chose that man who brought you into existence, and I expect you to listen to him and obey him as you would Me! Do not let familiarity dull his honor, because I chose him as a god for your life. If you despise him, you despise Me! And I will not accept such scornful rebellion!

The thing you should be most content about is your father. God chose him. God chose his ability, education, wealth, intelligence, looks, personality, opportunities, successes, and failures for His own glory and your perfection. No other father would have worked as well for you! The eternal counsel of heaven connected you two, and any discontentment or disrespect from you is treason against the design of a benevolent and sovereign God.

Hearken to your father. Listen to him, and obey his advice. He knows more about life than you can grasp, even if it were explained to you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He cares about you and your future more than you do. Your short-term view of things is foolish and vain. His affection for you, his desire for your success, his sense of responsibility, and his experience and knowledge come together to form his advice. Save yourself a great deal of pain in life and judgment from God – hearken unto your father.

Isaac submitted to his father tying him on an altar as a sacrifice (Gen 22:9)! Jacob obeyed his father to travel far away and pick a wife from cousins (Gen 28:1-5). Joseph honored his father and sought his blessing on his children (Gen 48:8-14). Moses, ruler in Israel, reverenced his father-in-law, a Midianite (Ex 18:7-12). And the Rechabites carefully obeyed a distant grandfather, though he had lived 300 years earlier (Jer 35:6-10)!

With age your father will lose his strength and wisdom, but he is still the one God chose to beget you. His declining abilities are no grounds for you to disrespect him. He might not have the power any longer to enforce his rule, but by this time you should be more conscious of his authority and right over you than ever before. Respect him in old age out of principle and thankfulness, rather than out of childish fear or habit or necessity.

Blind and hardened fools disobey their fathers, and the sin is compared to the perverse depravity of sodomy (Rom 1:30). Such a child is a terrible calamity to parents (Pr 17:25; 19:26). The perilous times of the last days have arrived, when even Christians allow children to disobey and dishonor their parents (II Tim 3:1-2). Their permissive approach to life and religion, choosing fables instead of doctrine, will destroy them (II Tim 4:3-4).

Your mother was introduced to you in the prime of her life. She was attractive, energetic, and intelligent. It was bearing and bringing you up that dulled those traits. Her body gave you every nutrient for growth for nine months before you were born, and for nine months or more after you were born. A lifeline tied you to her before you were born, and you cried for her after being born, as if you still needed and wanted that lifeline.

She loved you and did more for you than ten wives could or would. She patiently adored, pampered, praised, and doted on you in ways a wife will not. She was a tireless servant in providing food, clothing, bedding, and countless other comforts for your existence, though you never gave her even a “thank you” for years! She suffered through your infatuation with boyfriends, who combined and squared would never do as much for you.

She was the weaker sex in her prime, in God’s opinion (I Pet 3:7). But as she gets older, taking care of you and then worrying about you, she will lose more strength and wit. She will fear things she once mocked. She will forget names, places, and how to do simple tasks. She spent herself caring for you, and now there is little left. What will you do? Ignore her in her weakened condition, or give her greater glory and honor and care?

If you hurt her in any way in her old age, the God of heaven will take retribution now and in the world to come (Pr 20:20; 30:17; Rev 21:8). If you do not fully take care of her in old age, then you have denied the religion of Jesus Christ and are worse than a pagan infidel, no matter what church you attend, or what Bible version you read (I Tim 5:4,8).

Ruth obeyed and tenderly served her mother-in-law Naomi in her old age (Ruth 2:17-23). Solomon, with regal authority and glory like no other, honored his mother with a seat at his right hand and promised to not reject her request (I Kgs 2:19-20)! And the Lord Jesus Christ, though greatly stressed with the torments of crucifixion and the reconciliation of His people, gave assignment to John for the tender care of His mother (John 19:26-27).

If you are a child, you have just read your duty. Let it be your great pleasure to attentively heed your father’s advice, whether in his presence or on the other side of his grave. What should you do this very day to honor your aging mother? See to it quickly! If your parents are far away, you can call, email, mail, or visit. If they are inaccessible, what about your in-laws? If you have honored your parents, what about any grandparents?

If you are a parent, and your children show you little or none of this honor or care, humble yourself before the God of heaven and confess your sinful indulgence, careless inconsistency, reversal of roles, overbearing criticism, or permissive environment that cost you the esteemed position of beloved parents (Pr 22:6; 31:28). The merciful God of heaven is able to help you recover lost years, if you repent in humility (Joel 2:12-27).

If you are a Christian, you have another Father far greater than your earthly father, Almighty God Himself. He has done more for you than all natural fathers combined. You owe Him all the reverence and obedience you can possibly muster. You call on Him frequently, every time you need or want help, and He has never failed you a single time.

The sober words of truth from Peter to you about Him are these: “And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear” (I Pet 1:17). You should fearfully hearken to God your Father and never despise Him even far more than your earthly father and mother.

Under Gods Command

Proverbs 23:13,14 – Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die.  Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. 

The stern tone of discipline here is offset by the affection expressed in verse 15.  However, many parents are reluctant to discipline their children at all.  Some fear they will forfeit their relationship, that their children will resent them, or that they will stifle their children’s development.  But correction won’t kill children, and it may prevent them from foolish moves that will.