Proverbs 23:19-35: Thirty Sayings of the Wise (#16-19)
September 11, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Thirty sayings of the wise: now we look at numbers 16-19.
“Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.” (23:19-21)
This is a good word for all those starting out as freshmen at universities and colleges! As well as those who are tempted to drown their sorrows in drink later in life too. There are many reasons often given for avoiding drink, but here the Bible is very practical. Drunkards rarely do well in life. They often end impoverished, enslaved to their alcoholic addiction. If you are aware that you are “drinking too much,” do not despair; hope can be found in Christ. Talk to a pastor or Christian counselor and find the help you need to put aside this addiction and begin to live a life of freedom.
“Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy the truth and do not sell it—wisdom, instruction and insight as well. The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. May your father and mother rejoice; may she who gave you birth be joyful!” (23:22-25)
This saying focuses on the importance of paying attention to your parents’ instruction. It is easy, as we begin to get older, to think that our parents are foolish or have very little to offer us. But, in normal circumstances, your parents have several unique components related to their role in your life which makes them especially worth listening to. They care for you; they know you; and they want what is best for you. That does not mean that they are always right, of course, but it does mean they are always worth listening to.
“My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways, for an adulterous woman is a deep pit, and a wayward wife is a narrow well. Like a bandit she lies in wait and multiplies the unfaithful among men.” (23:26-28)
How many men there are who have been ruined by lust, sexual addiction, and adulterous liaisons. The excitement of the illicit nature of the activity, plus its sensual nature, combine to create a cocktail that is hard to say no to once the draught has begun to be drunk. The answer is to not even get close to the temptation. The “Billy Graham” rule of not eating or getting in a car with a woman who is not your wife has been vilified by some over the last few years, but how many men are there who would have been wise to pay attention to that rule, and probably now wish that they had? The truth is that men and women are vulnerable in this area, and we should set a guard around our hearts and give our hearts to the ways of God. Covenant with your eyes, like Job did, to look not long at an adulterous opportunity, but instead stare into the beauty of the Father heart of God.
“Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. Your eyes will see strange sights, and your mind will imagine confusing things. You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. ‘They hit me,’ you will say, ‘but I’m not hurt! They beat me, but I don’t feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?’” (23:29-35)
A highly evocative description of the danger of giving in to alcoholic drink. It is true that the Bible does not altogether ban drinking alcohol. After all, Jesus turned water into wine, and he himself instituted the Lord’s Supper, which in its original form involved wine. But such wine was probably more diluted than that of our day, and in any case the Bible is very clear that drunkenness is wrong: do not be drunk with wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are tempted by drinking too much, dwell on this Saying 19. And then, seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then gather around you a group that can keep you accountable to your new resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness—in this area of your life as in all others.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
To receive God Centered Life devotionals directly in your inbox, as well as other resources, enter your email address in the form at the bottom of this page and click "subscribe."