Wine, alcohol in Proverbs

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The books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon have much to say about the uses, benefits and potential pitfalls of wine (and alcohol in general). These books are in harmony with the rest of the Bible that condemns drunkenness but approves of imbibing intoxicating beverages like wine in moderation.

It is true that the Bible requires the total avoidance of wine (any intoxicating drink) for some people in special circumstances (e.g. those under a Nazarite vow). There were also groups of Old Testament people who, as a self-imposed rule, avoided anything with alcohol.

The Rechabites, who lived in Canaan but were not Israelites, refrained from wine and other fermented drinks so that they did not risk raising the ire of Israel on whose land they sojourned (Jeremiah 35:1 - 10). While abstinence is admirable, however, God does not consider it a sin if, in moderation and wisdom, wine (alcohol) is enjoyed from time to time.

What is the Bible Diet?
Did Jesus drink wine?
Should we eat Ezekiel's bread?

King Solomon, the author of the books mentioned above, regularly enjoyed wine (even some that was highly intoxicating) but not in quantities where his wisdom was affected (Ecclesiastes 2:3, Song of Solomon 8:2, etc.).


Young Man Drinking a Glass of Wine
Young Man Drinking a Glass of Wine
Jan van Bijlert, 1635 - 40

Alcohol in moderation

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine (Proverbs 3:9 - 10).

Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter (Proverbs 31:6).

Well, one thing, at least, is good: It is for a man to eat well, drink a good glass of wine, accept his position in life, and enjoy his work whatever his job may be, for however long the Lord may let him live (Ecclesiastes 5:18).

Go your way, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God now accepts your works (Ecclesiastes 9:7).


World's Wit and Wisdom
Take counsel in wine but
resolve afterwards in water.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

There's more old
drunkards than old doctors.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry; but money answers all things (Ecclesiastes 10:19).

I sought in my heart to give myself unto wine, yet conducting my heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, until I might see what was good for the sons of men, what they should do under the heaven the few days of their life (Ecclesiastes 2:3).

Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table . . .

"Let all who are simple come in here!" she says to those who lack judgment. "Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed" (Proverbs 9:1 - 2, 4 - 5).

I would lead You, and bring You into my mother's house. You would instruct me; I would cause You to drink spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate (Song of Solomon 8:2).

Undiluted and fermented grape juice that was mingled, mixed (Proverbs 9:2, 5) or spiced (Song of Solomon 8:2) had a higher alcohol content than the average wine of its time. Its strength (ability to intoxicate a person quicker) came from the addition of spices or other additives.

Alcohol in excess

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise (Proverbs 20:1).


The Effects of Intemperance
The Effects of Intemperance
Jan Steen, 1663 - 65

He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich (Proverbs 21:17).

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine, who go to sample bowls of mixed wine.


World's Wit and Wisdom
First you take a drink,
then the drink takes a drink,
then the drink takes you.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1896 - 1940

When the wine enters
out goes the truth.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Drunkenness, that worst of evils,
makes some men fools,
some beasts and some devils.
Benjamin Franklin, 1706 - 1790

Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper (Proverbs 23:29 - 32).

Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags (Proverbs 23:20 - 21).

It is not for kings, O Lemuel . . . to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink (alcohol); Lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted (Proverbs 31:4 - 5).

Indulging in luxuries, wine, and rich food will never make you wealthy (Proverbs 21:17).

Next Topic
Proverbs on Anger

Additional Study Materials
Should we not eat meat?
Does God approve of smoking pot?
Foods created by God for our health!
Is drinking alcohol a sin?

References
A Dictionary of the Holy Bible
Adam Clarke's Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Old Testament
Illustrated Bible Dictionary


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