Warnings about Gluttony and Drunkenness – Prov 23

Another area in which we need wisdom is in our us and abuse of the gifts that God gives. Things that God designed to be a blessing (food and drink) can become a curse if we don’t use them wisely. Proverbs 23 has several warning about gluttony and drunkenness:

Proverbs 23:1–3When thou sittest to eat with a ruler,Consider diligently what is before thee: And put a knife to thy throat,If thou be a man given to appetite.Be not desirous of his dainties:For they are deceitful meat.”  

  • The idea here is to not be controlled by your appetite. While sitting with a generous ruler who has lots of nice food (‘dainties’ or delicacies), we still need to be in control of our faculties and exercise restraint. Notice, he says ‘consider diligently what is before thee’, ‘put a knife to thy throat if thou be a man given to appetite’.
  • Nice food and drink have a way of deceiving a person, softening up their convictions, and causing them to compromise their principles. In that setting, an individual must be on guard and exercise radical selfcontrol.
  • How have we gotten out of control in our eating or drinking? Do we consider diligently what is before us and take serious action if we are a person given to appetite?

Proverbs 23:6–8 says “Eat thou not the bread of him that hath an evil eye, Neither desire thou his dainty meats: For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; But his heart is not with thee.The morsel which thou hast eaten shalt thou vomit up,And lose thy sweet words.”  

  • This person is a stingy man who offers much but doesn’t really want others to take much. He lays out a bunch of ‘dainty meats’ and says ‘eat and drink’ but his heart is not really in it.
  • This means that we must be careful to not overindulge because some people don’t really want us to ‘eat as much as we want.’ This realisation can cause us to regret having eaten anything. So again, we must exercise wisdom when lots of nice food is laid out.
  • How do we taken advantage of situations to overindulge? Are we the type of people who offer a lot but really don’t mean it?

Proverbs 23:20–21 says “Be not among winebibbers; Among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.

  • These verses summarise the warnings to not hang around those who love to overindulge in alcohol and food. The drunk and the glutton will come to poverty. Instead of working and being industrious, love for too much wine and food will cause a person to be lazy (‘drowsy’) and bring them to rags.
  • Are we hanging around the wrong type of people or believing the wrong messages about food and drink?

Proverbs 23:29–35 says “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? Who hath contentions? who hath babbling? Who hath wounds without cause? Who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; They that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, When it giveth his colour in the cup, When it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, And stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, And thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, Or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; They have beaten me, and I felt it not: When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.”  

  • The final, longest section on this topic is about drinking. It warns about all the negative consequences that ‘tarrying long at the wine’ can have. It can cause sadness and problems. It can cause fighting and incoherent talking. It can give wounds without cause, red eyes.
  • Wine may look lovely and refreshing, but in the end, it will bite like a serpent and sting like an adder. It can cause all sorts of strange behaviour, strange words, sickness and slavery. Even though it causes so many problems, most people keep seeking it yet again.
  • Do we realise the dangers of drinking and the pain that it can cause us and others? Are we listening to God’s wisdom about alcohol and wine? We ignore His warnings to our own peril.

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