Proverbs 23:35

They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.
– Proverbs 23:35

The saying concludes with the words of the drunkard. It’s a pathetic picture of the self-destruction a man is brought to who indulges and feeds his addictions and compulsions. The drunkard is senseless and painless toward all remedial efforts. He says, “I was not sick,” and, “I felt it not.” The drunkard is truly a particular type of fool, heedless of correction (Proverbs 27:22). In true proverbial fashion, he says, “I will seek it yet again.” The fool who will not learn wisdom, will only continue on hardened against correction and senseless of the consequences (Proverbs 26:11).

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Proverbs 23:34

Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.
– Proverbs 23:34

This verse continues the ill effects of intoxication. It describes drunkenness and the resulting dizziness and sickness. Though man stand upon the earth, drunkenness makes him feel tossed about on the sea.

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Proverbs 23:33

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.
– Proverbs 23:33

This verse continues with the effects of excessive drinking. One’s perception of reality and judgment are impaired. Kings and leaders are not to be indulgent drinkers because they need soberness of mind not to pervert justice (Proverbs 31:5; 1 Timothy 3:3). Of course, wine and strong drink are not the only mind altering substances. The first phrase speaks of the eyes, as in what will attract your attention while under the influence that you would not otherwise consider. The second phrase speaks of the heart, or mind, and what you utter, or speak. Clearly, under the influence of intoxicating drinks, you will think, say, and do things you would not when thinking clearly.

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Proverbs 23:32

At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
– Proverbs 23:32

Wisdom typically looks to the end of a way, or the outcome of a course of action. The previous verse exposed drunkenness’ beginnings and this verse its endings. Excessive indulgence in wine is compared to bites from venomous snakes. Whatever good and pleasure was perceived in wine, the abuse of it has done away with it. Again, the warning against drunkenness is much like the warning against the strange woman (Proverbs 5:3-4, 11).

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Proverbs 23:30

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
– Proverbs 23:30

Verse 30 answers the riddled verse 29. The word for tarry long means to loiter, or stay. It describes on who is constantly drinking wine and being drunk. The word for wine refers to fermented drinks, which are intoxicating (See commentary Proverbs 20:1). The word for mixed wine means a mixture. This wine could have various ingredients added to it, typically to increase its potency (Proverbs 9:2). This fits with the context of the saying. Abusing substances such as alcohol does increase the tolerance to the substance and stronger substances have to be sought.

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Proverbs 23:29

Who hath woe? Who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? Who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes?
– Proverbs 23:29

Verses 29-35 form the last saying in this chapter and it is a character study of the drunkard. The saying begins with a riddle that will be answered in the next verse. We are presented with six questions describing a deplorable condition. The word for woe means a lamentation, or a cry of grief. The word for sorrow means an exclamation of pain. The word for contentions means strife, or arguments. The word for babbling means complaining. The word for wounds means injuries. They are without cause, meaning for no reason and indicating the unjust suffering of the complainer. The word for redness describes bleariness, or eyes appearing tired and bloodshot. The sketch pictures one with bloodshot eyes constantly complaining of all the troubles he’s seen while being an innocent victim.

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Proverbs 23:21

For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
– Proverbs 23:21

The word for poverty means dispossessed, which can be inheritance but at least denotes impoverishing loss. Wisdom here looks to the end of the way of drunkards and gluttons. The word for drowsiness means sleepiness, and is put for indolence. The saying likely includes a third form of excess, indulging in sleep and rest. This is a feature of the sluggard, with the same consequences (Proverbs 6:9-11; 19:15; 24:30-34). All could be generally characterized as lovers of pleasure, and their fate is the same (Proverbs 21:17).

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Proverbs 23:20

Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:
– Proverbs 23:20

The saying continues with warning against companionship with two types of over indulgers. The word for wine means an intoxicating drink from grapes. The word for bibbers means to quaff, or to drink heartily. The phrase describes a drunkard, one who drinks excessively. Elsewhere, Proverbs warns against those who “tarry long at the wine” (Proverbs 23:29-35). The word for riotous eaters means to quake, be vile, or loose morally. Here it describes a glutton, an overeater. Both qualities describe those who have no self-control or self-discipline. Excessive eating and drinking are often symptoms of larger root problems. Wisdom teaches to walk with wise men and avoid companionship with fools of all sorts (Proverbs 2:20; 13:20; 28:7; 29:3).

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