Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise
This proverb is one of the basic lessons of a wise life. Don’t get captured by alcohol. It is a selfish pursuit. Most people just assume that everyone knows this truth, but they don’t – especially the young people who the proverbs are aimed at.
How much harm and heartache could have been avoided if this simple proverb had been heeded? Think of all the things that wouldn’t have been said; all of the hurt that wouldn’t have been done. Think of all the positive things that could have been done that weren’t done because that time and energy was spent on drinking or recovering from being drunk.
People in that day – as in our own day – resort to beer, wine, liquor to take the edge off and to cause the troubles of the day to seem less intense. It will do that, but it will release levels of selfishness and even contentiousness that will not serve you well. I am amazed at the number of people who will argue for the positive result of the calming effect of alcohol but totally ignore the relational wreckage that also accompanies it. They do not want to see the whole picture – just one little positive to justify the activity.
Wine and strong drink are mentioned in this passage as intoxicants or those that lower social inhibitions and open the selfishness of a person’s soul to the outside world. This is why wine is considered a mocker. All the snide and cutting comments that you would say – but social etiquette keeps you from saying – can come rushing out when you are drunk. The problem is that once you have said those things, you can’t take them back. People don’t say, “Well, he was drunk; he didn’t mean it.” They often think, “This is what they really feel.”
The end statement of this proverb is clear and telling: whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise. The word that we translate intoxicated is the Hebrew word saga which means led astray or into error. Solomon lets us know that wine will lead us into error and that is not wise.
Drinking wine in order to be drunk is a selfish pursuit and will often lead a person into some form of error whether negative actions or lack of positive actions.
Just steer clear of this form of selfishness and your chances of wisdom improve dramatically. Notice that the proverbs advise us to steer clear of the sexually aggressive person, wine, the violent or angry person, the cynic. These are red flags in life’s pathway. Spending time with these people or objects is a selfish pursuit that is better left unpursued. It looks fun, interesting, exciting, and enriching; but it isn’t…
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.