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?


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What a destructive enemy! Look at the results! Count the troubles! Measure the pain! One thing does all this to people, and they bring it on themselves by their own foolish choice. Can you figure out the one correct answer to these six rhetorical questions?

If a criminal caused this much damage, pain, and suffering, he would be locked away. If a known person, you would consciously avoid him at almost any cost. But these results were chosen by a fool, and they are often repeated, as some fools choose them every day.

The proverb describes a drunk. As the context states, much wine is the culprit (Pr 23:30-31). And by virtue of the well-known connection in scripture and experience, strong drink or any alcoholic beverages are included (Pr 20:1; 31:4-6). Of course, beer and wine advertisements do not disclose the warning found in this proverb. They must sell more.

Drinking too much, excessively, and to drunkenness is the sin. The drunkard foolishly chooses the dysfunction, misery, pain, and trouble that this proverb describes. Forget how advertisements portray excessive drinking or drunkenness as cool, for this proverb tells the truth against those advertisers, and it was written by a king knowing more than they.

Woe is trouble, and drunkenness brings lots of trouble and of all kinds. Sorrow is grief, misery, and regret, and too much wine will bring them. Contentions are fights and arguments, and over-drinking will cause both. Babbling is altered speech so as not to make sense, and drunkenness will bring that on as well. Why does anyone get drunk?

Wounds without cause are by falling and stumbling or having car accidents while under the influence. Why would anyone drink too much and drive? A motor vehicle is a deadly weapon when driven by a drunkard! Redness of eyes detracts from one’s appearance and declares him a drunkard to every observer. Why does anyone get drunk?

But the problem is not wine or strong drink itself. It is drinking too much wine and becoming intoxicated or drunk that brings these consequences. Please note Christian reader, it is those who tarry long at the wine (Pr 23:30). It is those who drink so much they are as out of sorts with their bodies as those sleeping on a ship’s mast (Pr 23:34-35).

Wine is a wonderful creation of the only wise God, who designed it to make man’s heart glad (Ps 104:14-15). Its purpose is as noble as bread, which makes his heart strong, and oil, which makes his face to shine. God and good men have always known and approved its intended effects of relaxation and cheer (Pr 31:6-7; Eccl 10:19; Judges 9:13).

But as man has done since Eden, he abuses God’s creation and receives painful results (Eccl 7:29). From a moderate amount for joy, pleasure, and gladness, fools continue to drink more for no further pleasure and receive the pain and trouble of this proverb. Why would anyone use God’s creation contrary to the Creator’s instructions and warnings?

The trouble and sin from wine comes from drinking to excess (Eph 5:18). Wine is not the problem; drunkenness is the problem. Wine is commended throughout the Bible and used as a beverage by the godliest of men. Wine moderately used is a wonderful blessing, but wine excessively abused is a horrible enemy. Guns do not kill, but murderers use guns.

Many other innocent creations of God are similar. Bread is not a problem, but eating too much bread is gluttony and leads to obesity and health complications. Knowing God’s will and Christian liberty allows us to enjoy His wonderful gift of wine. But this liberty can never be used to the lusts of the flesh and drunkenness. Wine is a mocker. Beware!

The Jews called Jesus Christ a winebibber for drinking wine and a glutton for eating bread (Luke 7:33-34), but you know full well He never drank or ate too much (John 8:29; Heb 4:15). Make sure you follow His holy example (I Cor 11:1; Heb 12:1-3). He has saved His people for eternal life in heaven, and His rules give them the good life now.