Difficult Scripture: Proverbs 23:19-35
Is it Wrong to Drink Wine?

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I. Scripture: Proverbs 23:19-35

{19} "Listen, my son, and be wise, and keep your heart on the right path. {20} Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, {21} for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." ..... {29}"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? {30} Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine. {31} Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! {32} In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper. {33} Your eyes will see strange sights and your mind imagine confusing things. {34} You will be like one sleeping on the high seas, lying on top of the rigging. {35} "They hit me," you will say, "but I'm not hurt! They beat me, but I don't feel it! When will I wake up so I can find another drink?"

II. How These Verses Are Misused By Some: These verses are quoted by those who believe it is wrong to drink alcoholic beverages. They say this passage proves it is wrong to drink wine, and, by extension, any drink containing alcohol.

III. True Explanation:

A. These scriptures do not say it is wrong to drink wine. It does say we should not linger or tarry long at the wine (verse 30). One who tarries long at wine becomes a winebibber, or, in plain English, a drunkard, and no drunkard 'will inherit God's Kingdom’ (Galatians 5: 21).

B. Verse 31 says not to look upon the wine "when it is red... when it moves itself aright." The terms red and moves itself refer to wine when it is in the process of fermentation. This is before the wine is fully fermented. If you "look on it" so as to finally drink it, you will become sick and possibly even die. In fact, instances are recorded of winery workers becoming asphyxiated by merely leaning over the wine vats "looking on" the fermenting wine and being overcome by the poisonous gases.

C. God's Word shows it is perfectly all right to drink wine in moderation. The first miracle Jesus performed was to turn water into wine (John 2:1-11). The Greek word translated wine in John 2:1-11 is 'oinos' and it means fermented wine. The apostle Paul even advised Timothy to drink some wine for his stomach problems (1 Timothy 5:23).

D. God gave us wine and alcoholic beverages so we may learn to use them properly. We develop character by properly exercising wisdom and self-control with them. The proper use of alcohol is a great responsibility, but it is only the wrong use of it that is sin.

E. "The Processes of making wine were well known in the ancient world (Genesis 9:20-21; Isaiah 25:6; Jeremiah 48:11). People kept the fermented wine in earthenware pots or goatskin bags, though when goatskin bags became old and brittle they could not stand the pressure of new wine (Jeremiah 13:12; 35:5; Mark 2:22).

Wine was a common drink of the Israelites, in both Old and New Testament times, and was one of the articles of daily food that they offered to God in sacrifice (Exodus 29:40; Lev 23:13; Deut 11:14; 18:4; Judges 19:19; Jeremiah 40:10; Matt 11:19). They considered a good supply of wine, along with other articles of daily food, to be one of God's blessings (Gen 14:18; 27:28; Deut 7:12-13; Proverbs 9:1-6; Isaiah 55:1).

People associated wine with merriment and joy (Ps 104:15; Eccles 9:7; Zech 10:7; John 2:1-10), though too much wine could lead to dullness of mind, unfitting behavior and drunkenness (Proverbs 31:4-5; Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 4:11; Nab 2:15; 1 Peter 4:3; Rev 17:2). Israelite law therefore disallowed wine completely for certain people, such as priests and others who set themselves apart to God for special service (Leviticus 10:9; Numbers 6:3; Jeremiah 35:8; Luke 1:15). The possibility of drunkenness brought strong warnings concerning the dangers of wine (Proverbs 20:1; 23:20; 23:29-35; Romans 13:13; 14:21; Ephesians 5:18). Drunkenness disqualified a person from a position of leadership among God's people (Isaiah. 28:1-3; 56:9-12; 1 Tim 3:8; Titus 2:3).

Wine had some medicinal value and was used to help heal wounds and illnesses (Proverbs 31:6; Luke 10:34; 1 Tim 5:23). When mixed with spices it could help deaden pain. But when such a mixture was offered to Jesus on the cross, he refused it (Mark 15:23). The wine (vinegar) that he drank shortly after was the common wine of the people, not drugged wine. Jesus' purpose in asking for it was not to deaden his pain, but to moisten his mouth so that he could announce his final triumphant words loud enough for all to hear (Mark 15:36-37; John 19:28-30)." (Item ‘E’ - Comments from the Concise Bible Dictionary).