Friday, December 13, 2013

Proverbs 31:4-7 Skip the wine!

Today’s verses are timely for the holidays! After giving her son advice against carousing with loose women, Lemuel’s mother warns him about another area which can become a slippery slope to destruction: drinking.

It is not for kings, O Lemuel,

    it is not for kings to drink wine,

    or for rulers to take strong drink, 
lest they drink and forget what has been decreed

    and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. 
Give strong drink to the one who is perishing,
    and wine to those in bitter distress; 
let them drink and forget their poverty

    and remember their misery no more. (Proverbs 31:4-7) 

Lemuel’s mother is warning him that, as the king or leader of his people, he needs all of his faculties at all times. You and I may not be monarchs of a country, but we are definitely in leadership positions, in our homes, in our workplaces, in our churches. So this warning applies to us. 

Jon Courson refers to Paul’s admonition to Timothy that those who serve as elders should not drink (1 Timothy 3:3). He also quotes Isaiah, who decried the use of wine by priests and prophets: 

These also reel with wine

    and stagger with strong drink;

the priest and the prophet reel with strong drink,

    they are swallowed by wine,

    they stagger with strong drink,

they reel in vision,

    they stumble in giving judgment. (Isaiah 28:7) 

Then Courson comes to the following conclusion in his commentary: 

The Christian community is increasingly accepting of alcohol as an option. I am not legalistic about drinking. People are welcome to drink if they want - but it’s not for kings, not for princes, not for priests, prophets, or elders. In other words, it’s not for people who want to make an impact. (Jon Courson’s Apllication Commentary: Old Testament, Vol 2, P. 270). 

Note who Lemuel’s mother says the drinkers are:  those who are perishing, those who are bitter in spirit.  Those who are miserable.  Don’t want to be counted in that line-up! 

Of course we have the freedom to drink, and we are not to judge others in their drinking. But if we truly want to make an impact for Christ in our world, we need to remember that others are watching us: little eyes in our homes, teens who are beginning to experiment with rebellion, co-workers, and neighbors who are prone to stumble or judge because of our drinking. So we are free to choose to drink, but we need to count the cost. 

A good reminder for a time when we gather for family celebrations, office parties, etc. People are watching. How will we lead?  

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