"They struck me, but
I did not become ill; They beat me, but
I did not know it.
When shall I awake? I will seek another drink." Proverbs 23:35
The life and times of the drunken fool comes to an end with this last verse. Yet this last verse as much as any of the others describes perfectly what alcohol can do to someone. It makes them a fool. The problem is that they do not know it - nor do they really care. Their life is spent going from one drunken episode to another - or as we see in today's world - they live from one party to the next. They are unaware of the real damage that is being done to their lives - and even when it is evident it is worn more as a badge of honor than as what it is - the marks left on a fool in the midst of his pursuit of more and more sensuality. When this drunken episode and party is over - his thought when he awakens is the next party, the next time he can drink, the next time he can act the fool.
This last verse is the drunken fool speaking to himself. He is remembering some of his most recent party experiences. He remembers that someone hit him - but the inebriated deadening of his senses did not remember it. His thought is that he was not badly injured - or at least not injured enough to be incapacitated. That is the idea behind the word "ill" here. It speaks of being ill enough to be weak or incapcitated. It speaks only of a severe wounding. Since this drunken fool was not so badly injured that he was laid up for days - he doesn't even consider the fact that he was struck.
Even worse he repeats this again when he says, "They beat me, but I did not know it." The first statement was a single blow received from someone. This second statement speaks of being beaten with multiple blows. His answer to this is that he did not even know he was being beaten. I've actually met people who were beaten badly - but did not realize it until someone else told them the next day when they were questioned as to why they had bruises on their body. What is truly sad is that they laughed about the situation, finding it funny that they were in a serious fight and didn't even know it. At this point I must also mention another sin of the drunken fool - and that is that some of them beat others. What I refer to is those drunken fools who beat their wives and their children. Some of them do not even remember the pain their inflicted on their loved ones while in the midst of their drunken stupor. The point here is that these fools are so drunk that they do not know what is happening during their beatings.
The last statement here is the worst of all. "When shall I awake? I will seek another drink." As the drunken fool falls asleep after his binge - he knows that he will wake up eventually. Does he awaken to seriously consider what he as done - the damage that is in the wake of his indulgent lifestyle? He does not. In fact, most alcoholics will blame everyone else for their choices and the havoc that follows in their wake. Their thought when they awaken is getting another drink. The literal statement here is this, "I will yet again drink." His thoughts are dominated by the next party, the next binge, the next over-indulgence, his next drunk. His life has become his drunkenness - and his desire to drown his miserable life in another bout of partying.
I know that some of you who read this may be thinking that I am too hard on the drunken fool. In fact you are pretty offended that I use that term to describe this man or woman. You prefer calling them an alcoholic - referring to their situation as a social disease rather than a series of foolish choices. You almost cringe at the strong statements that have been made in this post. God desires to deliver the drunken fool - and He loves him as He does any other sinner. But God makes it clear here and elsewhere that drunkenness is not funny, neither is it something we should treat lightly. God would not spend seven verses in a book that promotes wisdom unless this lifestyle was a breeding ground for fools. Having been a drunken fool in my past also gives me a pretty clear perspective on this sin. I know first hand the damage that comes from living this way. I also know that since I was in high school and college things have gotten progressively worse. Living in a college town and ministering to college students has made me aware that drunkenness on our campuses is running rampant. We don't even blink any longer - nor do we weep and pray for those who are caught in these lifestyles. We just say that they're kids and that is the way that kids act these days. We shrug our shoulders and walk away. Yet the damage increases every weekend. I know because I often deal with the young men and women who ache from it. Maybe instead of just winking at this - we should begin to fall to our knees and pray that God would so revive His church and restore us. Maybe we should not just complain and vote for dry counties - but also wade into the world of these young men and women who desperately need Jesus Christ in their lives. Maybe we should fight drunkenness with the greatest weapons we have in our arsenal - the gospel of Jesus Christ - and the truth of God's Word. Maybe then we could begin to see a harvest - not of drunken fools - but of redeemed ones who have turned to Jesus Christ and, as a result, have become wise!
And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. Proverbs 23:34
Drunken fools are unstable. This could have multiple meanings, but in this verse in Proverbs it actually only means that they are physically unstable. The drunker the fool gets, the more he is unable to control himself. He will eventually stumble around and fall down a lot. This is because of how alcohol affects both his brain and his muscles. Both are adversely affected and are hindered from functioning normally. In dealing with the previous verse we saw how both sight and muscles are weakened and disfunctional when the blood alcohol level of a person rises. The lack of sight - and the inability of the brain to handle the direction and regulation of our muscles is what causes this instability.
The actions of the drunken fool are compared to those who lie down in the middle of the sea. This first phrase refers to one who has sunken down into the sea. Similar words were used of Jonah and his fall into the depths of the waters in Jonah 2:4
- thus this is a picture of a person who is either drowning or in danger of drowning. He is lying in the midst of the sea - which is literally the heart of the sea. In his intellectual confusion he slowly passes into a state of unconsciousness - where he is no longer in control of his life. The drunken fool drinks until he is fighting a battle with being conscious. Even if he is conscious physically, often the drunk cannot remember what he did the night before. Some fools who have lived like this even find that they have injured someone, impregnated or have been impregnated by someone they don't even know, or in severe cases have even killed someone. Truly just as the man sinking in the heart of the sea is no longer in control of himself - so the drunken fool has lost control and places himself in grave danger.
The second statement here is that he is like someone who lies down on the top of a mast. This place mentioned here is the crow's nest or lookout mast on a ship. These are not made for anything except standing. When a man is standing in one he can hold on and can determine direction and warning for a ship. For a man to be lying down in such a place is foolish on several counts. First of all, doing this means that he is most likely lying down on top of the nest itself - with no way to hold himself stable. Since the motion of the ship on the sea is greatly exaggerated here, he is more likely to be thrown from the nest into the sea or to his great injury or death on the ship below. The drunken fool is similarly in danger because drunkenness greatly impairs his ability to protect himself and guide himself safely wherever he is. He too is in danger of injury or death in his drunken state. The second way this is foolish has to do with being watchful. If you are lying down on top of the mast you are not watching. The ship could run aground and face terrible problems when its lookout is asleep or lying down on the job. If enemies approach he is supposed to be the first line of warning. But since he is lying down on the job - he is subjecting the ship to a condition of having no lookout at all. The drunken fool is similarly abandoning watch over his life, his family, his friends, and most especially his testimony. He is a man adrift with no one at the helm - wandering through life with no direction as well as no protection. Some who choose to live this way, ruin their lives in the course of one night.
The wise man does not impair himself willingly. He keeps his wits about him and keeps watch over his life and testimony. He knows that drunkenness will severely blind him to everything around him and also will leave him without any discernment or prudence in his decision making ability. Therefore he avoids drunkenness like one would avoid the plague. He knows that rather than being drunk he is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. That way he has a teacher and a guide who can keep him safe. He knows that under the influence of This Spirit he will not have to wake up in the morning wondering what happened and whether he will need to be ashamed of the previous night's activities.
Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things. Proverbs 23:33
In our look at the life and times of the drunken fool we next encounter the physical effects of alcohol on our eyes and mouth. It is a proven fact medically that alcohol will affect our minds - and through that our ability to think and respond to things clearly.
Our brains control both of these functions and since the brain has a large blood supply going to them, they are more quickly influenced by the alcohol levels rising in our blood due to drinking. Within less than an hour two major problems develop for the drunken fool. First the
brain itself is hindered from its ability to have nerves function normally. Alcohol in the blood supply depresses our nerve conductivity - thus it also results in a slow down of our ability to think and react to things. Next as the blood alcohol level reaches muscles - our eye muscles will lose their full ability to function and we will begin to have blurred vision. As these things are multiplied by the drunken fool - the brain may begin to misinterpret information and won't react properly to stimuli that are coming to it. The more acute the situation the more that things become distorted with some even having hallucingenic conditions in their comprehension of what is happening to them. One thing I learned while researching these things on the internet is that this is why we should never drink and drive. The more drunk someone is - the more their ability to react to stimuli is impaired - making them very dangerous on the road. One test involved giving goggles to drivers that simulated various stages of drunkenness. At lower blood alcohol levels the failure level of drivers to pass even simple tests was frightening to see. Things only got worse as the person's blood alcohol levels rose.
The second statement here is that not only will the drunken fool see strange things - but he will also say "perverse things." When the brain is filled with higher and higher levels of blood alcohol - the brains ability to filter things is severely hampered. Things that would normally be supressed flow freely. The fact that perversity flows more at these blood alcohol levels should be of little shock to us since we know that the Bible says that we are fallen and sinful. I've been around people who said the most horrible things when they were drunk. There are people who are the nicest most discreet folks until they get some liquor into them. Suddenly their mouths are transformed as they begin to curse and say sexually perverse things to the opposite sex. Some were horrified to learn how they spoke the next day as they recovered from their drunken state. Yet a simple reading of Romans chatper 3 should remind us that one of the traits of the sinful nature is its horrific effect on the mouth and the tongue. Romans 3:13-14
tells us that sinful man's throat is, "an open grave." We are also told, "With their tongues they keep deceiving. The poison of asps is under their lips." Finally we are reminded there that their mouths are, "full of cursing and bitterness." Oh how the mouth of fallen man is loosed without any discernment when alcohol numbs their thinking and their conscience. Unfortunately, I've known of relationships that were ended because of things that were said in a drunken stupor.
The wise man knows that the last thing he needs is a relaxation of his ability to discern and discreetly chose how he speaks and lives. Since alcohol deadens these things, wisdom tells us to steer clear of all abuse of alcohol. Wisdom warns us against drinking any level of alcoholic beverages because it may deaden our heart's ability to hold our tongues from saying truly stupid and foolish things. Such passages as these in Proverbs should warn even the novice that taking up an alcoholic drink can be dangerous indeed - especially if we want to see things clearly and speak those things that honor and glorify God.
Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly; At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Proverbs 23:31-32
As we continue our look at the dangers of alcohol abuse we are warned that wine will look good when we see it. There is a certain asthetic beauty to a beautiful glass with wine in it. We see its color and note that it sparkles in the cup. The alcohol industry does everything that it can to enhance the look of their product. Beer is sold to us with people pouring it into a glass where we watch the foam grow along with the beer itself in the glass. Everything is done to make sure that we are enamoured with the sight of this drink. Consider as well that every commercial that seeks to sell these things is filled with skinny people who all look amazingly good - and voila - they are all drinking what we are supposed to be buying as well. The secret message to us is that we can look that good too if we drink their beer, wine, or whiskey. But, the proverb warns us that there is a different experience awaiting us when we actually drink this stuff in abundance.
We are told the truth here - that alcohol bites like a serpent and stings like a viper. What we are being alerted to is the effect of the alcohol on our system as we become more and more inebriated with it. We will find ourselves experiencing a type of poisoning of our system. Just like a snake and a viper bite will affect our vision and our ability to speak and walk - so also does the imbibing of alcohol. We will find ourselves strangely affected as this stuff hits our bloodstream and begins inhibiting our brain and physical functions. I find it somewhat disingenuous that we hear over and over again that alcohol can actually enhance our health. But what we are NOT told is how alcohol can poison our system and destroy our bodies. The amount of alcoholic drink we can have to make us healthier (and this is not in every case) is rather small - a small glass of wine often being used as the example. The problem is that in our party society we are not drinking for our health - we are drinking to party - to lower our inhibitions and help us do things we normally would not do. But the problems come not just to our mental state - but there are damages that happen to our brain, our kidneys, and our liver when we poison ourselves with too much alcohol.
As I've said earlier, I was a weekend drunk before I was saved. That also means that I have had the unfortunate situation of not only being drunk - but also of having a hangover and of being very sick when I poisoned myself wth alcoholic drinks. To describe what happens when you do this is difficult because it is hard for some to grasp what it might feel like to have multimple sledge hammers converging on the sides of your head while having a stomach ache and a feeling like you are going to throw up. It is difficult to describe how someone's whisper can sound like someone shouting in your ears. Yet these things are signs that you are poisoning yourself with the venom of alcohol abuse. Oh, before I leave this aspect of our current proverb I would like to regale you with what it looks like when someone abuses alcohol for a lifetime. They die of something called scirosis of the liver.
I was able to lead a man to Christ who had been a drunk his entire life. He was in his late 40's but looked like he was around 70. He came to Christ just as he was learning of his condition. His alcohol abuse had effectively destroyed his liver, which was in the process of shutting down. He told me to use his situation to warn others to stay away from alcohol and drunkenness. His body began to turn yellow as it also swelled to about twice its normal size. As his liver shut down he was blinded by the impurities that were in his blood. They also began to kill all the other organs in his body. It was not a pretty death that he died. That was the lifetime effect of someone who literally drank themselves to death.
The Word of God is trying to warn us of the dangers of alcohol. If we are wise we will approach alcoholic drinks in a similar way that we would approach drinking Draino or some other kind of known poison. Just because alcohol will poison us slower than these things is no reason to treat it any less cautiously. We live in a culture that glories in its alcohol abuse - and does not let us know the backside of this lifestyle. I've always wanted to cut one commercial for a Super Bowl that would present alcohol truthfully. It would involve people who are not pretty - drinking alone or even at a party. We would watch as they drink themselves into a foolish stupor - but the commecial would continue to follow them as they began throwing up uncontrollably. Then the commercial would end with them waking up the next morning as the sound track would distort with the sound of people talking to them - yet sounding like a bullhorn being used to deafen them. The tag line on the commercial would be something like this, "People who tell you to drink promise a good time." At this point the commercial would review the people throwing up uncontrollably and say, "Does this look like a good time?" A quick shot of someone dying of liver disease in all its horror would come next with the final statement, "Yeah, good times." That would at least begin to balance the scales just a little with wisdom when it comes to drinking alcoholic drinks and the truth. Will it ever happen? What do you think?
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine. Proverbs 23:29-30
We are about to read one of the most amazing sections of Proverbs that there is. These next seven verses are one of the most poignent commentaries on alcohol and drinking that there is in Scripture. It is also one of the most plain statements against getting drunk. I am not one who states that the Biblical view is complete abstinence from alcohol - simply because Scripture itself does not state that. The Bible teaches us to steer clear from getting drunk. It also warns against lingering long over wine - and I would also argue that the Bible militates against the whole "party culture" that exists in our society today. My own personal stance is complete abstinence from alcohol. The reason for this is because I've led at least two men to Christ who were alcoholics. If I were to drink - and they were to follow my example - there is good reason to be concerned that they would be ruined by my abuse of my freedom in Christ. Therefore, rather than make my brothers stumble, I will renounce my freedom to have anything to do with alcohol.
This passage though is about abuse of alcohol. It asks a series of questions that are all rhetorical in nature. They are this way because they have to do with the consequences of alcohol in someone's life who is abusing it. Who has woe? The answer is the alcohol abuser. Woe means to have a horrific distress. Take a close look at the drunkard and you will find plenty of woe and sorrow in his life. There are so many ways that this happens - through broken relationships - through wasted lives - through the regret and horror of the aftermath of a drunken driving accident or arrest. There is so much sorrow from the immediate consequences - as well as the long term ones that come out of drinking and drunkenness. But too often men want to make it look as if these are rare consequences rather than the norm of alcohol abuse.
The next set of two questions here deal with the issue of contentions and complaining. Unfortunately, before I came to Christ, I was often in parties where the abuse of alcohol was frequent. I can tell you from experience that the contentions and complaining are very much true. Guys would break out into fights and would have major altercations when they were drunk. I remember one friend who not only had a fight, but was beaten bloody and shot before the night was over. He survived, but the gunshot wound is still in his body to this day as a monument to his stupidity and drunken lack of sense. The complaining usually comes from those who have to deal with the drunk. Their wives complain of their actions. Their children complain of their actions. Their employer complains of their alcohol abuse. They all feel the effects of the lack of self-control - and in some cases the anger that comes with a drunk stumbling into the home. It is a sad but true fact that many men return home to beat their wives and children in their drunken state. Their complaining is testimony to a man who has lost all self-control and who is slowly ruining his life.
The next couplet here has to do with questions about wounds and redness of eyes. The wounds come from stumbling around drunk - running into things and injuring oneself. They may come from fights and their aftermath. The redness of eyes comes in the morning when the drunk gets up and faces the difficulty of recovering from the previous evening's activities. Not only is there redness of eyes - but there is also a pounding headache - and at times a stomach that is sick from the alcohol of the previous night.
These things are all said of those who "linger long over wine." This speaks of someone who drinks - and stays at a place where they serve them. These are the men who stay at bars well into the night. They may start at happy hour and not finish his drinking until after midnight. The drunk may have 5 to 10 drinks as he pours out the problems he has with the bar tender. He lingers long over a beer or a hard drink - and has another when he is done. The passage here also says that there are those who go to taste "mixed wine." Mixed wine refers to ways that men would mix wine with other things to make it better - and often to make it more intoxicating. It would in some ways refer to the way that men mix drinks in bars today.
We are going to get a pretty good picture of the drunk over the next several days. We are going to see his actions as well as the consequences of them. We are going to hear warnings against the things that he does. We will hear warnings about alcohol and the way that it can lure someone into its trap. We will hear about how alcohol promises one thing, yet delivers something quite different. We will also see that when we give ourselves over to this habit and this abuse, we will find that it is a trap that shuts over us and does much to bring great destruction in our lives. The wise man knows that wine and strong drink are deadly and deceptive. That is why he stays away from them.
The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you. Proverbs 23:24-25
God has blessed my wife and I with 6 children, of which 2 of them are sons. Our testimony as a family is an interesting one because it involves being caught up in religious, church-y living - and then later being in relationship with a very merciful, loving God. Please bear with me, because all this actually relates to the proverb for today.
Solomon tells us that the father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who sires a wise son will be glad in him. At present I am the father of two sons who are righteous - and who are seeking to live their lives according to God's wisdom. Oh, by the way - I also greatly rejoice in God's goodness for giving me such sons. To write such things can be extremely dangerous, so let me explain what all this means - giving all the glory to God.
I am a pastor. I have been one for some 20+ years. During that time God has been very gracious to me - showing me mercy extensively in the midst of a great deal of stupidity. There were times that I was so given to "the ministry" that I did not love my family as I should have loved them. I also was so caught up in trying to have a "great church" in the eyes of men - that I was a horrible example of what a man of God should be - not just to my family, but to the people of Calvary Chapel. A lot of this came crashing down when a biblical discipline situation arose in our fellowship - and spiritual carnage resulted. What I (and yes I emphasize I) had built came crashing down just like Jesus said it would in Matthew 7:27-28
. This not only happened at the church, but my own sons were rejecting it as well.
Then God broke me - wonderfully, graciously, mercifully broke me. I spent about 2 months weeping, confessing sin to my wife and my children - and to the church as well. It was during that time that I laid all my plans for me being a great pastor and preacher at the feet of Jesus - and decided I just wanted to love, know, and obey Him. God was so merciful in responding that the repentance and brokenness by drawing my two sons to Himself and making them righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. He slowly began to transform my sons, my family, and the fellowship He so graciously allowed me to continue to pastor. We are far from perfect - but as long as we seek Him and do what He says - things will go well.
This Proverb says that the father of the righteous will greatly rejoice. That does not mean that the father rears his sons to be righteous in themselves - for that would only be self-righteousness. He rears his sons to see that the only way they can be righteous is to turn in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ. Having their righteousness in Him - they can begin to walk as godly men - looking to and trusting Him at all times. What the father seeks to do is to be sure that he has "wise" sons. Since we know that wisdom is seeing all things from God's perspective - and making choices according to that way of seeing things - this means that his boys learn to have a biblical worldview, and live according to God's will rather than their own. If a father sees this - he rejoices. That wonderful gift has been given to me two times over. It also has been given to me in spite of my early years of stupidity and self-driven living.
The writer of Proverbs says to the sons that they should let their father and mother be glad - especially the mother who gave birth to them. Too many children spend their lives trying to please their parents by doing whatever they want them to do. That may seem like a contradiction to what I just said - but it is not. If a parent is wise in the way that they rear their child, they will make certain that their child knows that the most important thing in life is to live by God's will - not just by what their parents desire. Of course, this includes the commandment to honor and obey parents. But a wise mom and dad are certain to direct their child only to hear their voice as a precursor to listening to God's voice. The wise parent also knows that during their teen years their children need to transition from just listening to a parent - to listening to God and doing as He says. A child who remains dependent upon a parent throughout their lives will not be a wise child. They have to come to the point of starting their own family - and rearing another generation of kids who start by listening to their parents, and who later in life transfer that teachability to God's voice and the Scriptures.
My wife and I have strived to do this with our children. We've failed as often as we've succeeded - with all successes being due to following God's counsel. But know this - it is not easy - and parenting is not for cowards. If you do this properly - your children will marry - and will leave the home. If we rear them to treasure the gospel and take seriously their responsiblity to God and to the world for proclaiming it - there is a good chance they may take seriously that command to go to all the nations. We've already watched three do this - and a fourth is probably on her way. That means as we rejoice, there is also a little bit of heart-ache as we send them to the ends of the earth - not knowing if they will ever return. But then again, what greater joy can we have as parents than to follow the example of God Himself, Who gave His Son away so that the nations might be saved?
Buy truth, and do not sell it, Get
wisdom and instruction and understanding. Proverbs 23:23
Truth? What is truth? That is a question that Pilate posed to Jesus at His trial. Today, truth is in the mind of the one currently thinking. We live in a word deeply affected by post-modern philosophy. This philosophy says that truth is whatever you want it to be. Each man's truth is his own - and not to be frowned upon by anyone else's views. This is the corollary to the current doctrine of truth, the doctrine of tolerance. The effect of these two working together negates for the most part what the Bible says is truth. Yet the Bible says that it is truth. The Bible is God's revelation of Himself - and as the Author Himself is True - so anything He does to reveal Himself is truth by the very nature that He has said it. This places the the Christian worldview at odds with the current views of post-modern truth and tolerance. In the end though, everyone functions on the basis of truth. This is especially the truth when we die and face God in judgment. We might be able to deceive ourselves that whatever we want to believe is truth - but in the end, all men will stand before God and give an account of themselves to Him. In that day there will only be one so-called version of the truth - God's.
Proverbs tells us to buy truth and do not sell it. This world, since it is fallen, is not big on truth. Romans 1
says that mankind rejects God and chooses instead to make gods of their own - deceiving themselves in the process. The god of this world, Satan, is a liar and the father of lies. Therefore the world system in which we presently live is far more based on lies than on truth. Therefore whenever we encounter truth, we need to buy it and not sell it. Those terms are terms that are used in stock and investments. The only reason you would buy and not sell something is because it is constantly increasing in value. The longer you hold it, the wealthier you become. And according to Scripture here - you want to buy truth whenever you can and hold it forever because it will only make you richer every day you have it!
The Word of God is truth! Let's consider this for a moment. The wise man who buys truth and does not sell it - has found a field that is filled with gold, diamonds, and jewels of every shape, size, and description - as he comes to the Word of God. Knowing this it is amazing that we don't realize that time spent in the Word will make us eternally wealthy whenever we do it. Buy truth - redeem any time you can in the Word of God - it's worth millions!
There is more here - because God wants us to do more than just read His Word - although that is a good start. He wants us to gain wisdom and instruction and understanding as we do. Getting wisdom means getting an idea of how God views things. Getting instruction means being open and teachable so God can teach us at any time through anything that He does. It also means coming to God's Word to learn and to be instructed by Him. Getting understanding means that we take the wisdom and instruction that we obtain and we learn how to apply it to how we live each and every day. We learn how to walk with the Word that we read and understand and discern the difference between good and evil -between what is God and what is NOT God in this world and in our lives.
It is vital that we take the time that we have here on earth and apply it to knowing God - and as we know Him - walking with Him in wisdom throughout our days. The benefit to knowing truth - buying it and getting wisdom, instruction, and understanding is that we learn to live for the things that truly matter. We also learn to steer clear of things that will harm us in the end. That way at the close of our lives we will not spend our time regretting the things we've done and regretting the way that we've lived our lives.
Listen to your father who begot you, And do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22
I have numerous times been asked the question of when a young person should stop obeying their parents. Many think that just because our laws state that a person is an adult when they are 18 that they have the luxury of no longer obeying their parents. I honestly see no such statement made by Scripture. I believe a child no longer needs to obey his parents when he or she is married. Once that has taken place the child no longer is beholden to do what his parents say. But, one wise thing a person should always do is to listen to their parents - even when they are old. That is because they are an excellent
source of wisdom.
Our society does not do much to honor the aged among us. Ours is a youth culture - and we value youth, beauty, and strength. Nowadays we see the older among us as people who tend to get in our way as they talk about the past - or they offer decidedly outdated advice from days gone by. Before I put that on anyone else - I will have to admit that I have been infected by those concepts over the years. I have noticed that much of the good advice that I was given by my parents - and by those much older than me would have blessed me and kept me from problems if I had listened and heeded it.
Here we see Solomon telling his son to listen to his father. The natural flow of life should be for a father to offer godly advice to his son. This should be easy for the son to receive because of the committment that he has seen over the years from his father. The son knows that the father has nothing in mind except the very best for his son. Having seen this over the course of his lifetime, the son has no great difficulty listening and even following his father's advice. It is astounding how smart our parents get when we have children of our own and begin being responsible for the financial decisions and family decisions that map out for us our future. In those hours we realize that we would joyfully listen to advice and counsel given from our father and mother.
The second thing Solomon says to his son is for him not to despise his mother when she is old. The word for despise here means to hold someone in contempt and scorn. The one who acts this way is disrespectful to his mother. I think the reason we are counselled that wisdom is NOT to scorn or hold you mother in contempt is because mothers will speak the truth to you. They will always have that mother's instinct to protect and care for their children. But as children get older, they can come to resent this in their mom. Yet the wise son would never disrespect or dishonor his mom. He would listen to her - even when she is mothering him a little. The wise son realizes that this woman has loved him his entire life - and wants only the very best for him.
We may not have to obey our parents once we are married - but a wise man never stops listening to what they have to say. And if the parents are wise, they will choose their words and their disagreements wisely so that their children are able to hear all that they have to say. This is the way that the relationship between parent and adult child can flourish - to the blessing of both parties.
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one
with rags. Proverbs 23:21 (NASB)
Here are the consequences of the sins of drunkenness and gluttony. The father of these sons has been seeking to aim for their hearts on these issues. Now he does so by letting them know where these sins will take them in the future.
This dad is not brow-beating his boys as he says this. If he was, this would not be three verses long - but 1003. That is the way of the lecture - and most of them are usually ignored. This wise father takes the time to give his sons a call to wise and a godly heart. Then he takes a moment to offer them a command of instruction - and follows that up with a warning about the consequences that are coming for those who live such lifestyles. Then he is quiet. Having an advanced degree in the art of "Father-Lecturing," I wish that I was wholly unlearned in this area. I've engaged in lectures that took far too long - and were usually tuned out the moment I began my second (of 53 points). This dad just puts out the facts - and lets them sit with his son.
This dad knows that if his sons ignore him - all the additional words in the world will make little to no difference. They will become the cautionary tale for others through the consequences that come upon them. As a result, this father wants to make sure his sons know the truth - but that they know it with brevity and a lack of wordiness. Their hearts will not be turned due to the length of his talks. They will be changed and turned due to the work of the Holy Spirit as He seeks to teach them and lead them in the truth.
The heavy drinker and glutton will come to poverty. This is the first warning and consequence that the dad tells his son. For a few years in seminary I had the honor of being able to work and preach at the Union Mission in Memphis, Tennessee. We would serve food to the men - and afterward would take turns bringing a message to them. After the preaching we would sit with whoever was interested and share with them personally. While doing this I met numerous men who were in bondage to alcohol. Many of these men were former executives - some who would still be wearing an expensive suit - as they slept on the streets of Memphis. Their drunkenness had destroyed their lives. I remember one man who had previously had an office in a downtown skyscraper. He told me that just two years ago he was pulling down a six-figure salary, had a beautiful family, and lived in a house worth nearly $350,000. Due to the sin of drunkenness and an addiction to alcohol - he had lost all of this. Every month that I read this passage - I usually remember him. Truly, his sin and brought him to poverty. The glutton will have the same problems as well. His poverty though may be an inability to play with his children - or a poverty of respect as others wonder why he has so little self-control. His poverty may be a lack of self-respect himself - as he struggles with his weight. I've personally experienced some of these things as I've struggled with gluttony.
The second thing that happens to those who indulge in these sins is that a drowsiness will come upon them. It is a drowsiness that will clothe them with rags. Both of these sins lead to a lack of awareness and also - honestly - a person who has to sleep more. The drunk has it because he has to sleep off the affects of his drinking. The glutton experiences it because he is too full - or too overweight to exercise. The result of that is that he is sleepy all the time. There are also problems that result from blood sugar levels and other medical conditions that rob the glutton from the alertness that he should have. These things, if left undealt with long enough, will clothe these men with rags. They will miss promotions - and some will even lose their jobs.
The wise father will warn his children of the real consequences of these sins. He does so - not to be melodramatic. He even avoids such things. But he does tell his sons the truth. His hope is that ultimately such warnings will open their eyes to the problems that lie ahead when these sins are ignored. The goal of all this is not just that his sons won't be drunks and gluttons. Too often young people in the church equate Christianity with phrases like, "A Christian doesn't drink, doesn't chew, and doesn't go with girls that do." This kind of training does more to harm our kids than help them. It gives them the false idea that if they just steer clear of these evil three sins that they are right with God. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the end we want to win our children's hearts - not just burn a three rule list into their minds. We want them to be wise - not just in these couple of areas - but in all of life. Dads - don't get caught in the trap of warning your kids about your list of deadly sins - but not giving them the gospel and good rounded biblical teaching. We want more than obedience to us in a couple of areas. We want obedience to God in all of life. This we will obtain when we aim straight for their hearts - and have as our aim - that they be wise, godly, and Christ-centered. When we see these things in their hearts - we will know that we've been truly successful!
Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or
with gluttonous eaters of meat; Proverbs 23:20Yesterday we looked at how a father can aim straight for the heart when warning his son against lifestyles that will cause him to be self-destructive. Today, we will look at how he warns his son.
The father makes it clear that those who drink wine heavily - and those who eat gluttonously, aree going to face some difficult times later in life. There are those who drink heavily. They consume a lot of beer, wine, or hard liquor. We are warned not to be among these people. Heavy drinking will eventually lead to alcoholism - which is a stronghold of sin that is very difficult to break. Over the years I've been a pastor
, I've worked with several men who suffered from a stronghold of alcoholism. They were drunks who drank until it became a very self-destructive habit. It was heart-breaking to see some of them struggle for years with this sin. Jesus is able to deliver us from anything - any habit - any addictive behavior. But we would be far better off if we never needed HIs deliverance from such things. That is why we should be warning our sons and daughters against drinking heavily. But the father also is warning his child against being a glutton as well. Here is a sin that is seldom if ever addressed - especially if there is a potluck after church that day.
Gluttony is a sin. That is clear from reading the Word of God. Just as a person can become addicted to alcohol - he can also become addicted to food as well. If you don't mind me being a little open here - this is a sin with which I struggle personally. I tend to eat too much - and at times I've been accused to being addicted to cookies (chocolate chip in particular) - but I can stop eating them whenever I want. All joking aside, overcoming gluttony has been a battle for me. As I've fought it - winning sometimes and losing others - I've seen where food has been an idol in my life. I will run to it to comfort me - instead of running to God. The excess in eating - also lends itself to excess in other areas as well. This is a sin we should warn our children about falling into in life. If it is not overcome - it will lead to very serious consequences. The reason that we do not see them - is because they are consequences that come over a much longer period of time. Yet they are coming to the glutton - just as the consequences of drunkenness and alcoholism are coming to the heavy drinker as well.
We are wise when we see these sins of heavy drinking and gluttony and warn our children against them. We need to warn them that there are very serious problems that develop because of them. If they continue in them - they can even become life-threatening. Tomorrow, we will take a look at the consequences of these choices - and - we will see how the wise father seeks to warn his children of them - while seeking to reach their hearts.