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 23:31

Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.
– Proverbs 23:31

Verse 31 begins direct warning against drunkenness. The warning starts where drunkenness, and other sins, start. This verse describes wine in an appealing and tempting way. The word for look means to see, consider, and inspect. Wisdom understands the way of temptation and sinful actions and consequences result from a chain of decisions within. Consider the young simpleton in Proverbs 7:1-27, and though his actions seem impulsive, it is clear his sin worked from inside out. Wisdom warns not to look on, or fantasize about the drink. The warning here is much like the warning to avoid strange women (Proverbs 5:8; 6:25; 7:25) and evil men (Proverbs 4:14-15).

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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 23:20

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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Proverbs 20:1

Chapter 20 continues the large set of proverbs called the Proverbs of Solomon, which run from chapter 10 through chapter 22. This set of proverbs has two distinct groups. The first is chapters 10-15, which mainly have an antithetical parallel structure. The second is chapters 16-22, which mainly have a synthetic parallel structure. The proverbs in this chapter cover different themes, such as temperance, human authorities, God’s sovereignty, sluggards, business ethics, etc.

Wine is a mocker; strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

– Proverbs 20:1

This proverb introduces the subject of self-control, or temperance, which is a theme in latter proverbs (Proverbs 23:20-21, 29-35; 31:4-5). The Bible always condemns drunkenness (Deuteronomy 21:20; Isaiah 5:11-12; Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:10). Wisdom warns that drinking to excess leads to poverty (Proverbs 21:17; 23:21), multiplied life and relational problems (Proverbs 23:29-30), and immorality (Romans 13:13). Drunkenness is also often associated with false teaching and idolatrous worship (Isaiah 28:7-8; 56:12; Daniel 5:1-4).

The word for wine refers to fermented drinks made from grapes and such. The word for strong drink refers to fermented drinks made from grains. Wine was typically diluted and not as strong as strong drinks, though both were intoxicating when consumed in excess. The temperate use of such beverages was not forbidden (Deuteronomy 14:22-27), though it was restricted in certain situations (Leviticus 10:8-11; Numbers 6:1-4; Proverbs 31:4). We also have examples of personal choices of abstention, whether temporarily or permanently (Daniel 1:8; 10:2-3; Luke 1:15; Matthew 11:18; 27:34; Romans 14:21).

This proverb focuses on the negative effects of intoxicating drinks when abused. The word for mocker means scoffing, and the word for raging means growling, as in loud and violent. These reflect the actions of those under the influence and are the opposite of the self-control taught by wisdom. The word for deceived means to go astray, or err from the way. To be led astray by wine and strong drink is to be not wise, or a fool.

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