They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Drunkenness is sin. Drinking wine or mixed wine is not sin. Tarrying long at the wine, or drinking to excess, is the sin. Solomon gave his son a sober warning against drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35), which he had just identified by its numerous physical symptoms (Pr 23:29). Wine does not cause the problems of this context; abuse of wine causes them.
God created wine, and He made it to cheer the heart of man (Ps 104:14-15). If you doubt wine’s ability to cheer the heart, read the Bible (Judges 9:13; Zech 10:7; Eccl 10:19). The holy God of heaven endorsed it clearly (Pr 31:6-7; Deut 14:26; Luke 7:33-34; John 2:1-11). But man, in his perpetual abuse of God’s creation and revelation, generally makes one of two errors. He either makes it a sin to drink wine, or he drinks to drunkenness.
Drunkenness is sin. Drinking wine to excess, which is the only way to get drunk, is sin (Eph 5:18). Some have been drunkards before conversion, but Christians no longer do such things (I Pet 4:3-4). Drunkards shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21; I Cor 6:10). And Christian brothers that get drunk publicly are to be excluded (I Cor 5:11).
Young men, because foolishness is bound in their hearts, are very vulnerable to excessive drinking (Pr 22:15; Eccl 11:10). A simple tour through a college town, even without visiting a frat house, reveals a large number of bars and other watering holes. Filled with the invincibility of youth and egging each other on, they chug themselves to folly and sin.
The context is clearly drunkenness (Pr 23:29,33-35), which occurs by tarrying long at the wine, or staying and drinking too much (Is 5:11). The second clause is to be understood in light of the first clause, going to seek mixed wine beyond wise judgment (Pr 9:2). See Job 31:1, where thinking upon a maid is to be understood in a specific context of sin, and Matthew 6:34, where taking no thought for the morrow is to be understood as well of sin.
Wine is a mocker, for drunkenness can cause a person to do foolish and shameful things (Pr 20:1). Remember Noah and Lot (Gen 9:18-27; 19:30-38)! Only fools ignore warnings about wine and excessive drinking; wise men know it is dangerous and must be ruled strictly. You should know how much you will drink before you start, lest you tarry too long and end up drunk. Wise men do not even associate with drunkards (Pr 23:20; 28:7).
But wine is hardly more dangerous than bread and today’s processed carbohydrates, for they lead to gluttony, the fraternal twin of drunkenness (23:21; Deut 21:20; Luke 21:34). It is a shame when a 300-pound woman working on her third piece of cake condemns a man drinking a glass of wine with a meal. She is one more untaught, self-righteous Pharisee. God sees no moral difference in the two sins – both are despicable to Him.
Solomon knew more about success than you can know – success in the sight of God and men. He knew that alcohol had helpful properties in modest amounts but could render a man senseless and stupid without restraint (Pr 31:6-7,4-5; 23:29-35). He knew that drunkenness and gluttony would ruin a man’s professional ability (Pr 23:20-21).
Jesus drank wine often, unlike John the Baptist (Luke 7:33-34). Though called a winebibber and glutton by enemies, He never drank or ate to excess and was promoted to the throne of heaven. Let His moderation and temperance be goals for your life.