Before I came to faith in Christ I was touring and playing music surrounded by people from all walks of life ready to give their version of worldly counsel to anyone that would listen. “Living the dream” with a drink in one hand and a guitar in the other with the “Have a drink on me” mentality. Sound great? Yeah.. No.
Thing is, road-life is difficult, both mentally and physically. Add in alcohol and it can be a recipe for disastrous living. Whether I was playing at an amphitheater or a bar, the drinks would be rolling in from people quick to help me drown my sorrows. The difference between touring and casual weekend drinking is only different in that with touring, everyday is like a never ending weekend which can push an individual to their limits. I experienced this first hand. Free alcohol led to excessive drinking that only fueled the sin nature that was consuming me. It impacted my decisions and how I viewed situations.
We have been desensitized by a light hearted attitude and stance towards particular things like drinking. The culture and society has greatly influenced our views on drinking and living in a self gratifying world. You see it in entertainment: music, movies, marketing along with the negative associations. The link between depression and alcohol is everywhere, case and point: “Friends in Low Places”n- just look at some of these lyrics:
“'Cause I've got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away
And I'll be okay
I'm not big on social graces
Think I'll slip on down to the oasis
Oh, I've got friends in low places”
This right here, it’s just one drinking anthem that many live by. I find it particularly interesting how some people use the Bible to justify the type of drinking they partake in: a struggling poor soul in despair, or depressed, so we buy them another round, “it’s in the Bible”, right? Well, that’s a “straight shot” to this weeks “Weird Verse Wednesday”, Proverbs 31:6-7!!
Time to Ding!
6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; 7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (Proverbs 31:6, ESV)
Background on Proverbs:
Proverbs, over all, is a book of general Chokmâh (ḥoḵmah - “wisdom”) literature. John MacArthur describes the proverbs this way:
“The proverbs are short, pithy sayings that express timeless truth and wisdom. They arrest one’s thoughts, causing the reader to reflect on how one might apply divine principles to life situations (e.g., Proverbs 2:12). Proverbs contains insights both in poetry and prose; yet, at the same time, it includes commands to be obeyed. God’s proverbs are not limited to this book alone”
Background on Proverbs 31:1-9
As always with scripture, context is king as is understanding the complete poem (Proverbs 31:1-9) as a whole. Proverbs chapter 31 is a teaching of that from a godly mother to her son King Lemuel.
In verses 1-2 his mother pleads with the King, three times, stressing the question “What are you doing ?“, to stop and consider His actions or potential actions. She moves to teach her son, to remind her son how a godly king should reign with holiness, self control, sobriety and compassion in verses 3-9. To flee lust and drunkenness. What God created for good, sinful man corrupts. God does in fact condemn out of control, excessive drinking that leads to drunkenness ( Pr. 20:1; Romans 13:13; 1 Peter 4:1–5).
Verses 6-7’s Big Brother
We have to look at verses 4-5 to frame out verses 6-7.
4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. (Proverbs 31:4-5 ESV)
King Lemuel’s mother is again reminding her son of the way of holiness and to keep himself set apart from the masses because if he doesn’t, there are devastating consequences loose living can have on a leader.
The important points from these verses are a king, a ruler, a leader who is not of a sober mind cannot make sound decisions. Intoxication can impact and weaken reasoning and moral judgment It can set loose an untamed tongue and that will wreak havoc. Truth be told, nothing good comes from a time of heavy drinking; during a binge or the day after. Heavy drinking (strong drinks) can corrupt good morals. This is common place in our world today, we see it everywhere, the pushing of drinking and lustful behavior are okay because everything is now based on man’s standards and not biblical, moral absolutes from God.
So pass the bottle and drown the sorrows?
Let’s frame out Verses 6-7 now that we have the context. Here is the verse again:
6 Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress;
7 let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more. (Proverbs 31:6, ESV)
So we know from V. 4-5 that the ramifications of a loose tongue, loose behavior with drunkenness is devastation to the soul. Drinking to get completely drunk, or intoxicated with an idol type love of wine, will cause poor judgment. If we are seeking holiness this behavior is not compatible in a life that strives for righteousness. This is what the queen is saying in her godly counsel.
King Lemuel’s mother seems to be pointing out two particular situations in which strong drink and wine were used for relief, in compassion and mercy. The use of strong drink was to give it to those in a way for medical reasons (1 Timothy 5:23) and in extreme cases of terminal illnesses. When my mom was in the last stages of dying we were giving a small dose of morphine to ease the pain of physical death.
Also with those sentenced to death, especially in crucifixions, it was used to bring a form of relief. Of course the example that comes to mind Is when they tried to give Jesus wine mixed with gall when He was dying on the cross. This was a pain killing mixture that might have a narcotic effect and given to those who faced the death penalty. Jesus refused it because He needed to take on the full weight of what the cross meant for sin.
Both of these are in complete contrast to that of a king and is what the the mother is stressing to her son.
In closing, verses 8-9, Lemuel’s mother admonishes him that the duty was to righteously support the helpless.
So now what?
What does this all mean?
I’m going to say this because the topic of alcohol is a touchy one. We know drinking wine was part of Jewish culture. The Old Testament makes reference to it in good ways and we see the miracle of our Lord turning water to wine in the New Testament. Scripture also talks about it in a negative way but it is not referring to having just a drink of wine. It refers to the abuse of it and the behavior that can surface when alcohol consumption is in excess. Again, what God meant for good, sinful man abuses and destroys. In short, if it’s a stumbling block for you or someone else, avoid it and be considerate and aware about who it may impact even though you are able to exercise self control.
So to close out my thoughts on Proverbs 31: 6 as well as verses 1:9 as a whole, this hit me: the council from a godly parent will never cease. This was true in my own life, to the very end of my Mom’s life, she always was stressing holiness and truth from scripture. What an example we have here from this Proverb. We see this woman, this mother, this queen, reminding her son to revere holiness, to flee from worldly and fleshly desires that only satisfies the temporal state. That he must hold himself to a higher standard that aligns with holy, moral absolutes.
The New Testament and Old Testament, God’s word, is unique for His children, it’s our compass in our Christian walk showing us which way we should go, how we too should strive to live. It reveals the way to our Father which is through His Son and that no matter our circumstances, when we fall or are in need, God’s counsel is before us waiting in His Word. We don’t need to rely on the worldly vices but only on the true cure - Jesus.
So, instead of a drink, have a biblical verse on me and
“Ding On”! Anthony
(A Matter of Truth Podcast and IG @Speak.Gospel.Truth)
DINGERS, this WVW was written by our friend Anthony Arambula-Carrera. You can find more of him @Speak.Gospel.Truth on Instagram and he is also a Co-host of A Matter of Truth Podcast!