August 31, 2017
Scripture Reading – Proverbs 20-21
The Book of Proverbs is a gold mine of spiritual truths able to confront the foolish, correct the misguided and enrich the soul of any willing to mine its chapters. As a teenager, I made it a practice to include in my Bible readings a chapter of Proverbs a day. Looking back, I regret I did not slowdown, meditate and search out the meaning and application of the proverbs.
The majority of today’s devotional commentary was first written for this blog, January 20, 2014. The scripture reading assigned today is Proverbs 20 and Proverbs 21; however, my focus will be one verse, Proverbs 20:1.
Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.”
The proliferation of alcohol use in our society, now accompanied by a demand to legalize the use of marijuana is disconcerting. The pursuit of pleasure without self-discipline or moral restraint has given rise to a desire to dull the conscience and many are turning to alcohol, wine and drugs to fill their empty souls.
Consider the following statistics from the website of Mothers Against Drunk Driving [MADD].
1) Almost half of drivers killed in crashes who tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system.
2) In 2011, 226 children were killed in drunk driving crashes. Of those, 122 (54% percent) were riding with the drunk driver.
3) Drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention gives the following statistic concerning Alcohol use: In 2010 there were 25,692 alcohol-induced deaths (this number excludes accidents and homicide deaths related to alcohol use).
The statistics I cited may not come as a surprise to many reading this blog. Given the personal, family and societal ills associated with alcohol, I am shocked there is a growing acceptance of social drinking among Christians. Adding to the tragedy is not only the silence of the pulpit, but also the affirmation of some preachers for the use of alcohol.
Solomon addressed the nature of wine and alcohol in Proverbs 20:1, writing:
Proverbs 20:1 – “Wine [fermented wine] is a mocker [scorner; holds in derision], strong drink [intoxicating; alcohol] is raging [roar; troubled; clamorous]: and whosoever is deceived [stray; mislead] thereby is not wise [almost always condemned].”
The wine referenced by Solomon was naturally fermented and often diluted with water. Echoing his mother’s instructions (Proverbs 31:3-7), Solomon warned his son, undiluted wine and “strong drink” expose a king to ridicule and shame (“strong drink” was usually made from fruits and vegetables – 31:6).
There are many professing Christians in the 21st century who cite references in the Bible to support their use of wine and alcohol; however, an honest study of the history of alcohol reveals today’s “strong drink” is a far cry from the wine and “strong drink” of the Scriptures. Distilling beer and other strong drinks is a relatively modern process not perfected until the 12th and early 13th centuries. In other words, the alcohol content of today’s beverages is far greater than any mentioned in the Bible.
The first nine verses of Proverbs 31 record what I believe are the words of Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, and her instructions to her son who would one day reign as king of Israel. Knowing the temptations for excess that would pass before her son as an eastern monarch, Bathsheba admonished Solomon:
Proverbs 31:4-5 – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine [fermented drink; that which intoxicates]; nor for princes [rulers; judges; those who weigh matters of law] strong drink [intoxicants; alcoholic liquor]:5 Lest they drink, and forget [fail; cease to care] the law, and pervert the judgment [cause; plea] of any of the afflicted [troubled; depressed; poor; lowly; humble].”
The terrible toll imbibing in wine and alcohol has had on humanity is legion. Slick television advertisements hide, deny and disguise the reality there are multitudes of families scarred by the emotional, physical and spiritual cost of alcohol. Only a fool would deny the reality of alcohol’s destruction on marriage, home and career.
Consider the following evidences:
Statistics from The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [Focus on the Family – 2002]
– Nearly half of all violent crimes happen under the influence of alcohol
– People under the influence of alcohol commit 86% of all murders
– People under the influence of alcohol commit 60% of sexual offenses
– 30% of deaths in auto accidents, nearly 15,000 deaths annually, are alcohol related
A Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) study found that 95% of all college campus crimes (including date rape and sexual promiscuity) are alcohol related.
The devastating effects on health [http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/abuse/a/aa000728a.htm]
– 75% of esophageal cancers in the U.S. occur in heavy drinkers
– 50% of cancers in the mouth, pharynx and larynx are alcohol related
Bathsheba was fearful, should her son be given to the use of wine and alcohol, the nation would suffer the consequences of a king with distorted judgment.
21st century Christians would be wise to heed Bathsheba’s admonitions and Solomon’s counsel: Strong drink beguiles men and only a fool denies the obvious!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith