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Proverbs 23:17-21, 29-35 Notes

PROV. 23:17-21, 29-35 - NOTES

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always.
18 Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.
19 Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way.
20 Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.
29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who linger long over wine, Those who go to taste mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;
32 At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things And your mind will utter perverse things.
34 And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast.
35 "They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink."

Prov. 23:17-18. Do not envy sinners
Prov. 23:19. Acquire wisdom
Prov. 23:20-21. Do not be a glutton
Prov. 23:29-35. Avoid intoxication

OVERVIEW: Proverbs 23 is a collection of admonitions that a father gives his son. Many of the admonitions appear in couplets in which the first verse issued the warning and the second gives the rationale for it. In today's lesson text, vv. 17-21 and 29-35, our topics will include not envying sinners (vv. 17-18), acquiring wisdom (v. 19), avoiding gluttony (i.e., over eating, vv. 20-21), and avoiding intoxication (vv. 29-35).

vv. 17-18: Do not let your heart envy sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always. 18 Surely there is a future, And your hope will not be cut off.

WHAT NOT TO DO (v. 7a): Do not let your heart envy sinners
1. This is the main command of the proverb.
2. Envy defined: a. To envy; be jealous; to be zealous for. b. A feeling of ill will ranging even to anger, based on a perceived advantage.
3. Solomon's command is that his readers NOT be envious for what others have. a. When a person is envious for what others have, it indicates that he is not content with what he has. b. It also indicates that his focus is not on the Lord, but is on "things of the world"... and in particular, things that others possess that he does not possess.
4. Envy is a common trait of fallen man. We have all been envious. Perhaps we still are! a. It is SIN to be envious. The Bible clearly commands us NOT to be envious.
WHAT TO DO (v. 7b): But live in the fear of the LORD always.
1. Instead of envying sinners, we are commanded to be in the fear of God all day long! a. This is an interesting counterpart to the command. b. One would think that the opposite of "envying a sinner" would be to have a better attitude towards the sinner. c. To the author, the opposite of "envying the sinner" was "fearing God."
d. It might not seem like a direct opposite, but it actually is. e. To the author, the opposite of "focusing attention on the sinner" was focusing attention on the Lord... which means in practical terms, FEARING HIM.
f. In other words, the REASON we envy sinners who prosper in the world, is because we are focusing our attention on them... and what they have... and how well off they are. g. What we OUGHT to focus on is the Lord. Keep Him in the forefront of our thinking... and that means walking in godly fear of who He is.
h. When our eyes are upon the Lord, we will not be so concerned about the wicked and how they live. We will be much more concerned about the Lord the Lord and how He would have US to live!
WHY (v. 18a): Surely there is a future,
b. The term simply speaks of a future day... a future event... the last time... the end time...
3. The author's point seems to be that the antidote for envying the wicked is to keep in mind that there is a future to be considered. a. There is coming a "last day"... a future event that which (if understood) will mitigate AGAINST envy today. b. Solomon doesn't say WHAT that future day is, but seems to leave it to the imagination of the readers. c. It was probably pretty obvious to his readers too-as it should be to us.
WHY 2 (v. 18b): And your hope will not be cut off
a. Defined: Hope; expectation; things hoped for; ground of hope; a confidence in regard to a good and beneficial future; anticipation of good in the future.
b. Solomon warns that the wicked have their day coming... but the godly also have a future day coming.
c. The godly can anticipate that future day with great anticipation and joy!
a. The wicked lived in luxury in this life and perhaps expected that it would continue forever.
b. However, the "end" for the wicked will be a horrible experience. Their prosperity and luxury will all be "cut off"-it will come to an end and will be exchanged for eternal judgment.
d. But the godly have a glorious expectation in the future and that will NOT be cut off!

v. 19: Listen, my son, and be wise, And direct your heart in the way

It is an exhortation from a father to his son.
1. First Solomon encourages his son to LISTEN to what he has to say, be WISE, and then to GUIDE his heart.
2. LISTEN Hear defined: a. To hear; listen to; obey; to hear with attention and interest; to receive information; to hear and to heed what is heard. b. Solomon speaks to his son and advises him to hear, to listen to, and to take heed to the advice of a godly father. c. He says the same thing in vs. 22. The one who begot him certainly has no ill will against him. He wants only the best for his son. A son should consider that as the advice is given. d. This has been an oft repeated theme in the book of Proverbs.
3. Be wise defined: a. BE wise; become wise; show oneself to be wise; demonstrate wisdom; to make wise decisions. b. Prov. 6:6 - It speaks of observing life, learning lessons, and putting them into practice. c. It is the wisdom that is gained from hearing and observing. Pay attention, and put it into practice. d. Consider God's heart towards His wayward son, Israel: "O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!" (Deut. 32:29). e. Here we learn that wisdom (like faith) cometh by hearing. The one who has ears to hear will learn and become wise. f. This is another common theme in Proverbs: be wise! The book is all about becoming wise.
4. Guide/direct defined:
a. Now he gets a little more specific: b. Guide means: To go straight; make progress; to step forward; to advance. c. Solomon urges his son to guide his HEART... to make progress on the inside-in his heart.
• That includes his thoughts, emotions-the whole inner man.
• This is good advice for ALL of us. We all have a lot of progress to make in the development of our inner man - our inner character.
• This is what Solomon urged his son to do: to walk the straight and narrow path, to step forward, to make progress-to advance in the development of his heart - his inner man.
• This would involve his thoughts - his mind. Progress is to be made intellectually and spiritually.
» This would include education. » It would include reading the Scriptures and thinking on things that are true, lovely, full of virtue, and of good report...
• This would also include one's emotions-getting a handle on them... controlling them.
d. Solomon encouraged his son to guide his heart... to grow as a man... to mature... to develop... to make progress in every way: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. e. Prov. 4:10-13 - When a son listens to the counsel of his father, his steps WILL make progress.
• This is a command not to stagnate... not to just slide by, but rather to take steps forward and to progress in these areas.
f. Prov. 4:23-27 - If we guide our heart, our steps will be headed in a good direction. The feet will take us where the heart orders.
• If the heart is right, the life will be right... and progress will be made. Thus, keep your heart with

vv. 20-21: Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine, Or with gluttonous eaters of meat; 21 For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

v. 20: America is a land of plenty. There is extreme abundance of everything, especially to eat and drink. Never has a nation had such affordable quantity and variety. And most nations have a greater quantity and variety of food and drink than ever before. While this degree of plenty is a blessing, it is also a temptation for two sins - drunkenness and gluttony.

Here is wisdom for all, but especially for younger people. King Solomon warned his son about the importance of being wise and guiding his heart through life (Pr 23:19). There is a way to live that is noble and right regarding eating and drinking, but many live in a way that is ignoble and wrong. They sin against God by eating and/or drinking too much. The proverb is broader than condemning drunkenness and gluttony - Solomon wrote it to condemn associating with drunkards and gluttons. A wise man that wants to be noble and virtuous in life will not choose friends that are gluttons or drunkards. He knows that choosing wise friends is essential to his own success (Pr 13:20; Ps 1:1-3; I Cor 15:33). He will search out sober and temperate young men that live disciplined lives at all times. The party animals exalted among youth today, which see drunkenness and gluttony as harmless sports and rites of passage, are a sure symptom of the moral depravity of a sick society.

It is not the food, and it is not the wine, that causes the sins. It is a matter of the heart. Observe again that Solomon opened this warning about drunkenness and gluttony and those that commit these sins by referring to his son's heart (Pr 23:19).

v. 21: Excessive drinking and/or overeating will make you poor. Young people are especially vulnerable to these temptations. 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 person 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). 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.

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. Solomon did not see the potential disasters that entice many young people today. 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.

Proverbs 23:29-35 Summary:

Comment-the issue of self-control: A lack of self-control is commonly shown in lust, greed, gluttony, alcoholism, conceit, sexual sins, gossiping, violent quarreling, and false and reckless speech, and many other sins that Satan can tempt us to commit if we allow him. What is self-control? See Proverbs 16:32; 25:28; I Corinthians 9:27; 13:4-7; II Corinthians 10:3-5; I Peter 2:11-12. In the New Testament, the most common Greek word for self-control (temperance, KJV) is enkrateia. Its root meaning is "power over oneself" or "self-mastery." Self-control, in its widest sense, is mastery over our passions. It is the virtue that holds our appetites in check, controlling our rational will or regulating our conduct without being duly swayed by sensuous desires. Moderation is a key element in self-control.

v. 29: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

The final verses of Prov 23 deal with the dangers of alcohol. 2. This was a problem in Solomon's day and has been ever since. 3. Actually, the Bible mentions the abuse of wine ever since the days of Noah and probably much before. 4. Vv. 29-35 are counted as the 18th wise saying in this section. 5. This section is wisdom warning his readers against using alcohol. The Rhetorical Questions (v. 29) Six rhetorical questions are asked and they all have the same answer. In every case, the answer is they that tarry long at the wine. (v. 30)

v. 29a: Who has woe? a. Woe: This is a passionate cry of grief or despair; it speaks of intense hardship and distress; b. What kind of a person will end up crying out in grief and despair? The one who uses alcohol. c. What kind of person will end up living a life of intense hardship and despair? The one who uses alcohol. d. With these three words (who hath woe) we have been given sufficient warning to stay away from alcohol. e. This warning is coming from God's book of wisdom. f. The warning is clear and unambiguous. g. The response is up to us. We can take heed to God's words of wisdom OR we can ignore it or reject it and decide to experiment with alcohol. h. Why would a believer try to do that? To prove God wrong? To prove how strong you are? To prove that while others may fall victim to alcohol, it will never happen to me? i. When the Bible warns us that the use of a product results in grief, despair, hardship, and distress, clearly that is a warning to stay away and NOT to experiment with it.

v. 29b: Who has sorrow? a. Sorrow: Like the word "woe," this is also an exclamation: it is an exclamation of pain or anxiety; sadness; remorse; b. It is not a common word for sorrow. The term is used only here in the Bible. c. So the question is asked: who will experience pain, anxiety, sadness and remorse? d. You guessed it-the one who is tricked by alcohol. e. Prov. 20:1 - Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. f. Wine truly is a mocker. It promises happiness, (just watch how happy the people are on the Budweiser commercials) but in the end it produces sorrow and woe. (You never see that on the commercials.) g. Note that the first two questions (woe and sorrow) deal with emotional problems related to alcohol.

v. 29c: Who has contentions? a. Contentions: Strife; arguing; quarreling; disputes; fights; b. Who ends up leading a life of strife, arguing, and fighting? The one who tarries at the wine. c. God's wisdom warns us that drinking leads to arguments and fights. d. This is a multiple choice question: Where do you think you are more likely to hear of a brawl occurring? (a) the supermarket; (b) the local barroom; (c) the library? e. Children who grew up in a home where their parents abused alcohol know all about arguing and fighting. They had to endure 18 years or so of arguing and fighting. It is the environment in which they lived. They probably grow up thinking it is normal. f. How many marriages have been destroyed because of alcohol? How many families broken up? How many kids have had their youth ruined because of alcoholic parents? g. How many MORE will there be? h. Why would a Christian drink something that he KNOWS leads to arguing and fighting? i. We've been warned.

v. 29d: Who has complaining? a. Complaint; lament; foolish talk; empty-talk; i.e., speech which makes no sense. b. It is not certain which meaning is intended here. Both fit the context. c. It may mean complaining or lamenting. Those who are full of alcohol do a fair amount of complaining. That is what often leads to the arguments and the fights. d. It may mean foolish talk, empty talk, or speech that makes no sense. Certainly this is true. e. People who are under the influence of alcohol say very foolish things. They ramble on and often make no sense. f. They can be quite obnoxious. g. As believers, we are to be extra careful about our speech. Every idle word we speak will be judged one day. h. Why would a Christian drink something that he KNOWS will cause him to say foolish things... senseless things? i. Very often the foolish things that a drunkard says are vulgar, immoral, and indecent. j. Such talk has resulted in fights too-in which a drunk doesn't fare very well. k. The first two questions dealt with emotional problems created by alcohol. l. The next two questions (contentions and complaints) have to do with social problems... interpersonal relationships that are ruined as a result of drinking.
v. 29e: Who has wounds without cause? a. This too speaks of the danger of alcohol... only this speaks of physical problems that result from wine and strong drink. b. Wounds without a cause: this is a bodily wound or bruise that is in vain... without a purpose... pointless. c. In other words, the drunkard also ends up getting hurt physically... for no good reason. d. There are lots of ways a drunk gets hurt:
• He can't walk right and often falls. • They fall down stairs... and off cliffs. • They are impaired and cannot drive-though they think they can. They often get in auto accidents which result in physically to themselves and others. • They have a big mouth and get in fights-and rarely win the fight. They end up severely bruised.
• Drunks think they can do things that they are unable to do. Alcohol gives a false sense of bravery-which results in pointless injury: they think the thin ice will hold them up; they think that they can fight a guy much bigger than they are; they think that they operate machinery. e. Because they were drunk, they don't feel the pain until they wake up the next day. f. Because they were drunk they often don't even remember how they got hurt. g. This is a terrible way to live. We have been warned.

v. 29f: This speaks of the typical bloodshot eyes of a drunk. b. He cannot see well and he cannot walk well. c. He is an accident waiting to happen. d. These last two questions dealt with the issue of physical suffer-ing related to the use of alcohol. e. Alcohol results in emotional problems (woe and sorrow); inter-personal relationship problems (contention and complaints); and physical problems (wounds and bloodshot eyes).

One Answer: (vs.30) - Solomon lists six rhetorical questions and there is but one answer to them all: the drunkard-that's who! The drunkard is described in two ways here.
v. 30a: Those who linger long over wine, a. Linger long: (one word in Hebrew) To delay; remain; slow down; linger. b. This speaks of a person who lingers at the spot where the alcohol is served. c. Prov. 23:20 - Earlier in this chapter Solomon warned his readers (his son) not even to associate with drunkards. Don't hang around with them... don't linger with them.
v. 30b: Those who go to taste mixed wine. a. Seek: Seek for; search out; explore in order to discover or find something. b. The English words "mixed wine" are a translation of one Hebrew word. That word means wine that is mixed with something else... usually water. (Although sometimes they also added spices to give it more flavor.) c. Here Solomon speaks of the person who actively seeks out mixed wine... alcohol. d. Perhaps Solomon used this term for wine to highlight the fact that in ancient times, the Jews did not drink wine straight. That was forbidden. e. The Jews mixed between 3-10 parts water to one part wine. Thus, the wine they drank had a negligible amount of alcohol in it. f. Thus, the wine in the Bible was NOT the same as wine that is drunk today. Today people drink it unmixed. That is what the Bible writers called "strong drink." g. This is another term easily misunderstood by the modern reader today. In the Bible, "strong drink" does not refer to what WE call strong drink: whiskey or bourbon. Distilled alcohol had not yet been invented! h. Strong drink in the Bible was unmixed wine and was forbidden. i. The only way to get drunk drinking wine mixed with 3-10 parts of water would be to "tarry long" at the wine... to linger where it was served. j. Thus, the person who tarried long at the wine WANTED to become intoxicated. k. The Bible did not forbid drinking alcohol altogether, because in those days the water was stagnant and needed to be purified. l. Adding acidic wine to their alkaline water neutralized the water and prevented them from getting sick - with stomach problems. m. Thus, they HAD to use wine in those days to purify their water. n. Hence, all the warnings in the Bible associ-ated with wine. o. They had to USE wine to purify their water, but they were warned not to linger at it. Be careful. p. It results in emotional problems (distress, grief and sorrow), interpersonal relationship problems (arguments; fights; divorce; ruined homes) and physical problems (wounds; red eye, not to mention cirrhosis of the liver, auto accidents, etc.) The rest of this chap gives us more reason to beware of the danger of alcohol.

v. 31: Do not look on the wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly. The author is speaking about the attractive color of wine; its bouquet or appealing smell; the way it swirls in the glass. The sensuous descriptions of color, sparkle, experiential pleasure of drinking, and long tarrying all suggest a deliberate pursuit of pleasure via wine. When drinking wine for pleasure is the focus of social interaction it regularly leads to intoxication.. Have you ever seen a connoisseur of fine wine smell the wine and swirl it in the cup? They are judging the quality of the wine... its appeal... the way it looks, tastes, smells, and moves in the cup. d. In other words, Solomon is telling his sons (and his readers) that they should not experience this temptation. Don't put yourself through this, for you might fall victim. It is VERY appealing. e. Don't gaze at the wine longingly, wishing you had some. f. Don't be drawn to its alluring color, smell, and the appealing way it moves in the cup. g. Remember, Eve's sin in the Garden began by LOOKING at the forbidden fruit. h. Gen. 3:6 - "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat."

v. 32: At the last it bites like a serpent And stings like a viper. Solomon uses hyperbole here to make his point. This speaks of the consequences of not taking heed to Solomon's command. 2. What a contrast: a. The wine is so appealing, so alluring, it seems so good and pleasant and desirable. b. The ends up biting like a poisonous snake and stinging like a serpent. c. In other words, what seems to be so appealing up front is anything BUT appealing and pleasant in the end. he initial pleasure is short lived, but the consequences can seem to last forever. g. The point is, consider the END before you even begin to head down that road! Considering the END will cause a wise man to choose to stay away in the first place.

v. 33a: Your eyes will see strange things. 1. The expression "strange woman (KJV)" is translated from ONE Hebrew word. a. It simply means "strange." Obviously, something needs to be filled in here for it to make sense in English. b. Most translations fill in the word "things" instead of women. • Of course it would not be wrong to use the word "things" here-for that is generic enough to cover anything! • The meaning then would be that alcohol causes you to see strange things-like hallucinations-pink elephants, etc. 2. Thus, the warning here is that alcohol causes a person's fleshly nature to be uninhibited - which means that it can stir up sinful behavior and sexual promiscuity: wine, women, and song! a. For centuries men have used wine and alcohol to cause a young woman to lose her inhibitions and impair her judgment so that she will agree to immorality... to cause her to agree to do something that normally she would NOT do. b. Noah stood strong and opposed the whole world! But later he got drunk and lewd behavior followed. This was quite unexpected of Noah, one of the heroes of the faith! c. Lot's daughters knew that their father would never agree to their immoral plan to preserve their seed and sleep with them, so they got him drunk-and Lot did what he never would have done otherwise. e. Alcohol has been the date rape drug of choice for centuries. It is used by men to lure women into sexual sin without their knowledge. "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." g. Alcohol causes us to lose control right away. The fruit of the Spirit is self control. Alcohol produces the opposite. A word to the wise should be enough.

v. 33b: And your mind will utter perverse things. 1. Note the effect that alcohol has on the heart... the inner man. 2. It causes the heart to utter perverse things. a. Perverse things refers to that which is twisted, immoral. The term is often translated "froward." God hates every manifestation of perversity-whether it resides in the heart or comes out of the mouth. 3. Note that God hates this "perversity" and alcohol produces it! a. That should tell us something-for those who have ears to hear. b. If you don't really want to hear, then no argument from the Scriptures will be convincing... not if your mind is already made up. 4. The word "utter" has two meanings. a. It usually means to speak. b. It also is used in an almost figurative way, of internal speaking. 5. Alcohol produces a perverse, immoral imagination and evil thoughts. Jesus said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts." a. Alcohol releases a person from his normal, healthy inhibitions and impairs his ability to think clearly.

v. 34: And you will be like one who lies down in the middle of the sea, Or like one who lies down on the top of a mast. In either case, it will make you SICK. What is it like to be very drunk? Solomon compared it to lying down in a ship in a storm. Rather than being on deck, where his eyes could assist his balance, this man lies in the hold of the tossing ship, feeling as if he will soon be turned inside out. His head swims; his stomach retches! Better than that, drunkenness is like lying on the top of a ship's mast, where the ship's rolling motions are compounded greatly by the length of the mast. The context is Solomon's warning to his son about the terrible effects of drunkenness. Drunkards are great fools. Why in the world would a person drink too much of a thing that he knows will make him very sick and cause him much misery? Ignorance! A foolish heart! Peer pressure! Bad habits! Addiction!

v. 35: "They struck me, but I did not become ill; They beat me, but I did not know it. When shall I awake? I will seek another drink." In other words, you'll be addicted, an alcoholic. Though the consequences of drunkenness are horrible, the drunkard continues to drink himself drunk. He can no longer deliver himself, though he has a lie in his right hand. He builds a horrible habit, gives place to the devil, and becomes a slave to alcohol. What could have been an asset is now a noose slowly choking him to death (Pr 31:6-7). Any addiction is slavery to be hated, for it becomes your master to control and rule your life, but especially addiction to sins like drunkenness.