For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Overdrinking or overeating will make you poor. Young men are especially vulnerable to these temptations, as most any American college fraternity will prove. Solomon, the wise king and father, warned his nation and son against these two evils and their destructive effects on a man’s career and finances. America, the land of plenty and then some, is a prime breeding ground for these corrupting excesses. Let every young man beware!
Consider the context. Solomon asked his son to hear, be wise, and choose what is right (Pr 23:19). He warned him against drunkards and gluttons (Pr 23:20). He also exhorted his son to honor both parents (Pr 23:22), put a priority on wisdom (Pr 23:23), and to consider the great joy a wise life could give parents (Pr 23:24-25). The danger of these two foolish, youthful lusts is great, so he forbad association with such sinners (Pr 23:20).
Young men think drunkenness is cool – because they are childish, foolish, and ignorant (Pr 22:15). They actually boast about getting sick and puking on themselves. They revel in how long their hangovers last. But a holy God considers it sinful and stupid. Drinking until you are drunk is a sin against heaven (I Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:18), and it is stupid for the painful consequences such drinking brings (Pr 23:29-35; 31:4-5).
Young men think gorging themselves is cool – because they are childish, foolish, and ignorant (Pr 22:15). They actually boast about eating enough to vomit. They revel in how much they can consume beyond what they need. But the great God considers it sinful and stupid. Excessive eating and carousing is a sin against heaven (Luke 21:34; Rom 13:13; I Pet 4:3), and it is stupid for its painful consequences (Pr 23:1-8; 25:16; 28:7; Luk 15:13).
Drunkenness and gluttony can ruin you economically. Remember the prodigal son! They create drowsiness through hangovers, digestive difficulties, diverted blood flow, and excess weight. The combination will reduce a man to wearing rags. “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Pr 21:17). To succeed, a young man needs his full wits and strength – there is no room for drowsiness.
Drowsiness is a sin itself, when due to oversleeping, overdrinking, or overeating. You are not to love sleep, or you will get up late and not get going in the morning (Pr 20:13). Overdrinking causes hangovers and a lethargic person unable to perform with full wits and coordination. Overeating creates a similar drowsy effect and packs on pounds in the wrong places that hinder performance. They are all closely connected here, so you should know the two clauses identify drowsiness as the result of overdrinking and overeating.
Solomon did not see that today’s young men would be more foolish than his generation, but his proverb condemns them anyway. How could he know they would smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, take amphetamines, and inject heroin. The number of such fools languishing in poverty and prison through violating this simple proverb is Legion. The lesson is simple – God has condemned any abuse of his creation, and He demands our full minds and energies in all our pursuits (Pr 4:23; 10:4; 18:9; Eccl 9:10; Rom 12:11).
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the renowned Puritan theologian and pastor, the third president of Princeton, and a spiritual man, wrote 70 resolutions at age 20 to guide his life. They are valuable reading. Consider his thoughts on food and drink. “Resolution 20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.” “Resolution 40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.” He knew the danger of these lusts.
Television and movies today, popularizing and promoting the fraternity lifestyle, teach young men that drunkenness and gluttony are acceptable, intelligent, normal, and not detrimental to a successful and prosperous life. But the blessed God of heaven and the wisest man ever have spoken together – both are sins and will destroy young men. Let every reader take heed to reject these sins himself and to save others from them as well.
As America, with the world following her example, degenerates from its once structured, disciplined, and conservative lifestyle, the temptation to both sins increase greatly. The availability of cheap drink and food of great variety is greater than ever. The size of servings at fast-food, casual, or formal restaurants is much larger than before. The sedentary and easy job requirements of most workers allow a dull mind or unfit body.
Not only are these foolish and destructive sins to be avoided, but those persons who engage in them are to be avoided as well (Pr 23:20). Peer pressure is nearly an irresistible force against young people, and the only sure protection is to avoid all such sinners with careful and diligent efforts (Pr 4:14-17; I Cor 15:33). Drinking buddies, no matter how friendly, will ruin your life; and gorging with gluttons will lead to poverty and trouble.
Much overdrinking and overeating occurs at gatherings, where the party atmosphere and abundance of food supplied for a group create a lascivious mood and base peer pressure. Peter warned against lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings (I Pet 4:3). Christians should not live this way, no matter what the world thinks of them (I Pet 4:1-5). These five sins or categories of sins are exactly what this proverb condemns.
There is also drunkenness and gluttony at home, as retail accessibility to cheap alcohol and much food in many varieties tempts to the same two sins. Instead of drinking for a merry heart with wits intact (Ps 104:14-15; Pr 31:6-7), wine and strong drink are used excessively to drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35). Instead of eating for strength and activity (Eccl 10:16-17), many calories are consumed that create a whale’s blubber and lack of energy.
Wise men will obey the warning of this proverb from the pen of a king that had free and full access to any quantity and a great variety of both food and drink. Which of these two lusts and sins do you have the greatest problem with? Repent, and implement strict rules to keep you from violating godly temperance in either one. Are your motives consistent with God’s creation of each? Are the results of your drinking and eating both positive?
But there is a far worse poverty and nakedness! Drunkenness and gluttony will also steal your soul – they show a profane heart that has neither life now nor the hope of life in the world to come. They create spiritual drowsiness that causes men to forget and neglect their souls. O cruel appetites! What does the apostle of the Gentiles say, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness … But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:13-14).
The LORD Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth, and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, has offered seven glorious promises to men (II Cor 6:14-18). They are obtained by cleansing yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor 7:1). The greatest success and wealth in the universe has no room for drowsiness – the utmost of mind, soul, heart, and strength should be applied to this offer.