The Dangers of Excess – Exploring the Passages

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

Note: For more information relevant to this present topic, “The Dangers of Excess,” see the accompanying Appendix (PDF download) that deals with the following topic: A Study of Proverbs 31:4-7 and the Use of Alcoholic Beverages.

1. What are some of the adverse consequences of excessive drinking that are indicated in Proverbs 23:29 (printed below?)

Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaints? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? (Proverbs 23:29)

By means of a series of questions, Proverbs 23:29 indicates some of the adverse consequences of excessive drinking. “Who has woe?” (Troubles, problems—financial, personal, legal; problems at home, at work, problems with the law.) “Who has sorrow?” (Regrets, anguish of heart, guilt.) “Who has strife?” (Arguments and fights with one’s spouse, one’s employer, with the police.) “Who has complaints?” (Who complains that nothing is working out right—life at work and/or at home is falling apart, it is coming unraveled, it is out of control.) “Who has needless bruises?” (You begin to feel the aches and bruises due to injuries suffered the night before: falling on your face in the gutter, getting into a fight at the bar, getting mugged in a back alley.) ‘Who has bloodshot eyes?” (You can see for yourself that drink is beginning to claim your good looks, your youth, your life.)

2. What other consequences resulting from excessive drinking are described in Proverbs 23:33 (printed below?)

Your eyes will see strange sights, and your heart will utter perverse things. (Proverbs 23:33)

“Your eyes will see strange sights.” You lose control of your rational faculties, you begin to hallucinate: misinterpreting what you see before you, misinterpreting reality in a dream-like state of intoxication. “Your heart will utter perverse things.” You will lose control of your moral restraints, the evil of the human heart will be unleashed and begin to express itself (note Matthew 15:19).

3. What further consequence of excessive drinking is presented in Proverbs 23:34 (printed below?)

Indeed, you will be like him who lies down in the middle of the sea, or like him who stretches out on top of the ship’s rigging. (Proverbs 23:34)

Proverbs 23:34 is graphically depicting the fact that if you come under the intoxicating influence of strong drink you will lose your common sense. You will cast all caution to the wind and do reckless, foolish things. You will put your life in jeopardy, being either oblivious to what you are doing or being deluded with a sense of invincibility.

4. How does Proverbs 20:1 (printed below) describe wine and strong drink?

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

“Wine is a mocker.” Strong drink causes a man to make a fool of himself; it will make a mockery of you if you let it. Coming under the intoxicating influence of strong drink one loses control of his moral restraint and consequently by his speech and behavior he becomes a mocker of God and of godliness. “Strong drink is a brawler.” Another consequence of coming under the influence of strong drink is the loss of self-control and the outburst of vicious and violent behavior.

5. What counsel is given to us in Proverbs 23:31-32 (printed below?)

Do not gaze at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly. (32) In the end it bites like a snake, and stings like a viper. (Proverbs 23:31-32)

Verse 31 warns us, “Do not gaze at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly.” That is to say, do not let the enticement of the wine (or strong drink) cause you to surrender yourself to its control: although it holds out the promise of enjoyment and escape, beware of the high price it exacts. Verse 32 warns, “In the end it bites like a snake, and stings like a viper.” We must look beyond the immediate allurement and take into account the affect it will produce once we have yielded ourselves to its seduction—its effect is compared to the bite of a poisonous snake: it is lethal.