Drunkenness and Stupor (Proverbs 20:1, 19-21, 29-35) (Part 1)

The Statement

Most individual Proverbs contain two Parts, the Second contrasting with the First. Also, in the collection as a whole, one Proverb contrasts with another. Wisdom is the balanced discipline; Wisdom tells us what to avoid and what to seek. When we are advised to avoid something, this implies we should seek its opposite. For example, Proverbs 20:22 – “Do not say, I will pay you back for this wrong! Wait for the LORD, and He will deliver you” (NIV), both discourages vindictiveness and encourages patient and faith. So, some of these verses in chapter 20 belong to either or both Sections:

Things to Avoid

Proverbs chapter 20 teaches us 14 things to avoid: (1) Drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1); (2) Quarrelling (Proverbs 20:2); (3) Laziness (Proverbs 20:4); (4) Sleep and Poverty (Proverbs 20:13); (5) Cheating in Business (Proverbs 20:10); (6) Cheating in General (Proverbs 20:23); (7) Boasting in Bargain (Proverbs 20:14); (8) Deceitfulness (Proverbs 20:17); (9) Ill-Gotten-Gain (Proverbs 20:21); (10) Unsecured Loan (Proverbs 20:16); (11) Tale-Bearer (Proverbs 20:19); (12) Disrespect of Parents (Proverbs 20:20); (13) Vindictiveness (Proverbs 20:22); (14) Rash Commitments (Proverbs 20:25).

Important Point to Note

The teaching below on Drunkenness is not meant to be judgemental and critical of the Person who is struggling with “drink-problem,” but rather to create an awareness of “the consequences” of the “drink-problem.” We need to exercise Christ’s Love to understand and to provide help to the Person who is struggling, in this area.

Drunkenness

Proverbs 20:1 (NIV) “Wine is a Mocker and beer a Brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.” Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”

Justification in the drinking of wine, especially alcoholic wine in the New Testament:

  • Jesus turning the water into wine at the wedding at Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).
  • The establishment of The Lord’s Supper with bread and wine (Matthew 26:26-29).
  • Paul’s exhortation to Timothy concerning the taking of a little wine, for his stomach’s sake (1Timothy 5:23).
  • The instructions concerning the Elders and Deacons “not being given to much wine” (1Timothy 3:3, 8).

In balance, the Writer, understands that the Bible does not teach total prohibition or total abstinence from wine, as passages shown above. However, intoxication and drunkenness are strongly condemned both in the O.T & N.T.

Warning against Drunkenness in the New Testament

  • Drunkenness is listed among the 17 Works of the Flesh – Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication…..drunkenness, revelries….”
  • Drunkard shall not inherit the Kingdom of God – 1Corinthians 6:10 “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilvers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.”
  • Drunkenness is listed alongside with rioting and other evil deeds – Romans 13:13 “Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.”
  • Drunkenness is one of the Signs of the Last Day, before Jesus’ Second Coming – Luke 21:34 “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing (partying), drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly” (Matthew 24:48-51; Luke 12:45; 1Thessalonians 5:7).
  • Drunkenness separates the Believer from the Fellowship of other Believers – 1Corinthians 5:9-13 “I wrote to you in my epistles not to keep company with sexually immoral people…..or a drunkard….”
  • Drunkenness is forbidden to Spirit-filled Believers; and the “Wine of the World” is the counterfeit of the “Wine of the Spirit.” – Ephesians 5:18-19 “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” Christian who is controlled by the “spirit of alcoholism” is not controlled by God’s Spirit at the same time, he must make the choice.

Warning against Drunkenness in the Old Testament

  • Drunkenness is associated with Violence – Proverbs 4:17 “For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with mocking, raging, and deception and lack of wisdom. The Drunkard is deceived about his condition by his rationalisation – Proverbs 20:1 (KJV) “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
  • Drunkenness results in Poverty – Proverbs 21:17b “He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
  • Drunkenness is linked with Gluttony and will come to Poverty – Proverbs 23:21 “For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness (due to wine) will clothe a man with rags.”
  • Drunkenness leads to Immorality – Proverbs 23:31, 33 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly;…your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse things (c/f Proverbs 23:27-28).
  • Drunkenness ends “liken being bitten by a Serpent” and “stung by an Viper” – This could be an indication of something evil about the end result of being Drunken – Proverbs 23:31, 32 “Do not look on the wine when it red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a Serpent, and stings like a Viper.”
  • Drunkenness is Addictive – Proverbs 23:34-35 “Yes, you will be like one, who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one who lies at the top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?”
  • The Final Verdict of Alcoholic-Addiction is that the Person is stricken, beyond feeling, and when he awakes, he seeks it yet again, to be intoxicated – He is bound by his addiction to alcoholic drinks! – “When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?” (Proverbs 23:35b)
  • Drunkard is warned with the Sixfold Questions: – Proverbs 23:29:
    • Who has Woe?
    • Who has Sorrow?
    • Who has Contentions?
    • Who has Babbling?
    • Who has Wounds without Cause?
    • Who has Redness of Eyes?
    • The Answer: Proverbs 23:30 “Those who linger long at the wine, those who go in search of mixed wine.”
    • The Warning: Proverbs 20:31 “Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly.”
    • The Suffering: Proverbs 23:32 “At the last it bites like a Serpent and stings like a Viper.”
    • Separation Required: Proverbs 23:20 “Do not mix with Winebibbers {Drunkards}, or with gluttonous eaters of meat.” – Because “Evil company corrupts good habits.” (1Corinthians 15:33b).

To be continued…. Stay tuned….

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