Summary: The passage asks questions, calls for observations & gives answers. It gives a description of the attractions as well as the effects of wine. Drinking is suppose to be characterized by happiness & merriment, but it is overshadowed by woes or problems. Th

PROVERBS 23: 29-35


[Proverbs 23:19-21]

This Proverb gives the picture of a drinker of alcoholic beverages. The father, talking to His son (v.15), passes from the sin of uncleanness to that of drunkenness because they are closely related. To wallow with wantonness in the mire of forbidden sensuality, man, created in the image of God, first desensitizes and brutalizes himself by intoxication.

The passage asks questions, calls for observations, and gives answers. It gives a description of the attractions as well as the effects of wine. It gives us a warning along with the condition of the drunkard and his own befuddled statements. Drinking is suppose to be characterized by happiness and merriment, but it is overshadowed by woes or problems, "Sorrows of the heart."

The proverb pictures the lure of drink and its final result (CIT). Every sin brings its own mischief or reaping. Let the one who drinks to enjoy life see himself here in the descriptions of this passage and turn from his sin before his sin turns on him.





Israel was a wine-producing country. In the Old Testament, winepresses bursting with new wine were considered a sign of blessing (3:10). Wisdom is even said to have set her table with wine (9:2,5). But the Old Testament writers were alert to the dangers of wine. It dulls the senses; it limits clear judgment (31:1-9); it lowers the capacity for control (4:17); it destroys a person's efficiency (21:17). To drink wine as a means of self-indulgence, or as an escape from life is to misuse it and invite the consequences of the drunkard.

Verse 29 presents us with questions that calls for observation and answer. "Who has woe (problems)? Who has sorrow (heartache)? Who has contentions (strife)? Who has complaining (anxiety)? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?"

These six questions give us all the information we need to determine who is being described. The first two questions give his wretched condition.

Who has [literally in Hebrew "to whom is"] woe ["trouble]? Who has sorrow? The very means of the drinkers pleasure "biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder" (29:32). His woe is great. He has the woe of ill health. Alcohol poisons the blood (cardiovascular disease, malabsorption, peptic ulcers), saps the constitution (heart disease, nutritional deficiencies, polyneuropathy, dementia), and aids diseases (cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis, epilepsy, kidney disorders). The drinker has the woe of poverty. [Alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $220 billion in 2005. This dollar amount was more than the cost associated with cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion)]. Drink debilitates one for the duties by which subsistence for himself and his family can be obtained. [Causes failure to complete job, school, or home responsibilities.] He has the woe of social contempt. [Social skills are significantly impaired in people suffering from alcoholism due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex area of the brain. The social skills that are impaired by alcohol abuse include impairments in perceiving facial emotions, prosody perception problems and theory of mind deficits; the ability to understand humor is also impaired in alcohol abusers.] His wife and children are ashamed of him, his neighbors and sober friends soon loath and avoid him. He has the woe of moral remorse. In his sober moments if his conscience is not yet seared he realizes his plight.

The next two questions deal with his offensive behavior and vexing speech. Who has contentions (strife)? Who has complaining (babblings)?

When alcohol deadens the brain, the member of the body which James describes as "setting on fire the whole course of nature," is allowed to give full utterance to all the filthy, incoherent, ill natured, and ridiculous things that spring from the inebriate's heart.

In these babblings there may sometimes be some humorous expressions but more often ill natured and irritating "contentions". How many quarrels, fightings, and murders have grown out of a drinkers babblings. Drink supplies our police with labor, agendas our judges with cases, fills our jails with prisoners and our streets with filth.

The final two questions; "Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of (or bloodshot) eyes?" address the drinkers resulting physical condition. Look at drinkers face and nose, see the darkening and reddening caused by toxins and circulation problems. His vision dims and loses its power. Look at the body of those that stumble around with are needlessly inflicted ("without cause") cuts and bruises, the price paid for either losing motor coordination or picking fights with others. The habits of a person begin to mark their looks. The deteriorating poison is doing its damage passing to all parts of the body through the bloodstream. All these woes and sorrows are the curse of indulging corrupted self will.

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