Today’s scripture reading is Genesis 9-10, Psalm 5, and Matthew 5. Genesis 9 is the focus of today’s devotional.
Accepting Noah’s sacrifice, God set a rainbow in the sky, a symbol of His covenant with man to never again destroy the earth with universal floodwaters (Genesis 9:11-13).
Noah became a farmer after the flood and planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20), contenting himself with the fruit of his labor. Sadly, we are soon reminded the best of men are sinners. The juice made from the grapes of Noah’s vineyard fermented and he became drunk. Unconscious of his drunken condition, Noah exposed himself and Ham “saw [i.e. a mocking, scornful gaze] the nakedness of his father” (Genesis 9:22).
Awakening from his drunken stupor, Ham’s scorn enraged Noah who cursed his son with a prophecy that has shadowed his lineage… “a servant of servants shall he[Ham and his lineage] be unto his brethren[the descendants of Shen and Japheth] (Genesis 9:26-27).
Many have observed a man’s flaws are oft exposed in the wake of his greatest victory. In Noah’s case, that observation proves true. Before the flood, he was a man who “walked with God”; a faithful preacher and servant of God. After the flood, he let down his guard and became drunk with wine.
We might conjecture Noah’s physical strength was failing, for he was an elderly man. Perhaps his wife had died and his sons, occupied with tending their lands and raising their families, left Noah a lonely man. Whatever the reason, Noah marked his last days with a moral failure and the sorrow of a son who held him in contempt.
We find a lesson and a warning here for all, but especially those who have guarded their testimonies and served the LORD faithfully.
Noah lived an unblemished life, but one moral lapse in judgment forever affected his testimony.
The greatest of men are not above temptation (Genesis 9:21). Noah’s drunkenness was a spiritual and moral failure that damaged his relationship with his sons.
A man’s moral vulnerability is often exposed at the pinnacle of his achievements. Samson withstood the assault of thousands of Philistines, only to fall morally under the spell of one woman, Delilah. King David was at the height of his power and popularity, when he spied Bathsheba bathing and committed adultery. Noah, his name and reputation synonymous with God’s grace and judgment, goes to his grave remembered for his drunkenness.
1 Corinthians 10:12– Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Given the recent resurrection of “social drinking” in our churches and some so-called “evangelical Christians” who defend indulging in alcoholic use, Solomon’s admonitions in today’s proverbs serve as a warning to all who promote the folly of imbibing.
Having warned his son concerning the destructive end of the man who falls prey to sexual lusts in the verses preceding today’s devotional proverbs (Proverbs 23:26-28), Solomon admonishes his son concerning the dangers, sorrows and destructive end of intoxicating drink. The king’s discourse on wine and drink in this chapter is the longest recorded in the book of Proverbs; however, it is not the only record of Solomon’s thoughts or experience with strong drink. Let’s allow the king to give his own testimony of the folly of strong drink from other proverbs before addressing today’s proverbs.
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].”
Proverbs 23:20-21 – “Be not among winebibbers [drunken; heavy drinkers]; among riotous eaters[gluttons; squanderers] of flesh: 21For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty[driven to poverty]: and drowsiness [sleepiness; indolence; slumber]shall clothe[dress]a man with rags.”
Proverbs 26:9 – “As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.”
Proverbs 31:4-5 – “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drinkwine [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].”
I can hear some Christians objecting to my direct commentary on this subject and citing the few verses in the Scripture that would support the medicinal use of wine (Proverbs 31:6-7; 1 Timothy 5:23). I challenge you to acknowledge that the advances in modern medicine have eliminated the medicinal use of wine and the risks of imbibing in today’s wine whose alcoholic content is far greater than Christ’s day outweighs any benefits you might derive.
Let’s briefly consider today’s proverbs. Solomon’s addresses the indulgence of strong drink with an opening volley of six questions (23:19) and answers the questions in verse 30.
Proverbs 23:29-30 – “Who hath woe [grief; despair; cry of lamentations]? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions [strife; brawlings]? who hath babbling [complaints; disparaging talk]? who hath wounds [bruise] without cause [for naught; for no good reason]? who hath redness [dullness, implied from drinking wine] of eyes [sight]? 30 They that tarry long [delay; remain] at the wine [strong drink]; they that go to seek mixed wine [with herbs or honey].”
What a sad commentary on the effects of strong drink on a man’s soul, life and reputation. Those who indulge in strong drink are identified as having a predilection for “woe” and “sorrow” or what some today describe as “mental illness” and depression. The excessive cost of alcohol consumption in the United States was estimated to be $223.5 billion in 2006. Of course, no dollar amount can be placed on the human toll of alcohol use that is described as “wounds without cause…redness of eyes” and would include the loss of one’s physical health, physical and sexual abuses, failed marriages, splintered families, ruined careers, crime, murders and suicides.
Can any sincere Christian presume to defend and engage in a vice that has and continues to destroy so many lives and futures? Solomon admonishes his son:
Proverbs 23:31-32 – “Look [examine; choose] not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth [walk; behave] itself aright. 32At the last[in the end] it biteth [sting; strike] like a serpent [viper], and stingeth [wound] like an adder [poisonous serpent].”
The redness of the wine and its sparkle [“moveth itself aright”] describes the wine when it was strongest and most alcoholic in content. Solomon warned his son…don’t look at it; don’t desire and imbibe in wine when it has fermented for it will be like the poisonous bite of a viper when it delivers its mortal wound.
Someone reading today’s devotional will take exception to my commentary and dismiss both Solomon and this simple writer. You declare your liberty to indulge and have plenty of others who defend your right. To you I ask, “Where will your advocates be when you, or a son or daughter, descends into the dark and dismal hole of sinful indulgence and every attempt to fill the void and emptiness of your soul has failed?
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”