Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has babbling? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it gives its color in the cup, when it moves itself aright.
At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.
The Book of Proverbs catalogs the worst things that can happen to men. It defines their sins and explains the sorriest miseries that afflict mankind, of which alcohol addiction may be the worst. Households cursed with the problem of drunkenness are plagued with fighting, depression, accidents, and broken relationships. Typically, drunks are incapable of conducting meaningful relationships with their children. When a father drinks too much alcohol, his children easily detect a change in personality as he speaks with thick, slurred speech and overwrought emotions. When he tells his children, “I love you,” they have a hard time believing him.
A great amount of abuse and murder in families comes about because of drunkenness. In the sad history of family abuse, so many men have come to regret the things they did while under the influence of alcohol. Usually, after the deed is done, they will insist they “didn’t mean to do any of it.” However, once under the influence, they bring about many “wounds without cause,” and they then must face the consequences—a lifetime of heartache!
Entire neighborhoods of lower-income homes in most American cities today are made up of families like this. The problem of drunkenness is so predictable in every place and every generation since Adam that it seems hardly worth mentioning. Where there are ruined families, wounded hearts and lives, and broken economies, you will always find communities of drunks, whether they be in Africa, Asia, South America, or Nowhereville, Nevada. The differences lie only in the variety of drug or intoxicant available to the particular social group, with alcohol being the most common. For Muslims in Yemen, it may be Khat. For twenty-five-year-old Californians, it is marijuana or methamphetamines, while Afghani men are getting high on their heroin poppies. The problem is nearly universal. Billions of people around the globe are enslaved to these addictive substances, thus illustrating the inherent weakness of the human spirit wherever it is enslaved to its own lusts.
That is why a wise and concerned father would insert this warning into his book of wisdom. The last thing he wants is for his son to fall into this family-ruining trap.
The trap of drunkenness is a sort of spell. Something strange happens to the drunkard as he looks into the bottle of wine. He is completely controlled by it. All other values in life seem to dissipate in favor of the bottle. The true and living God fades, while this new god dominates his thoughts and affections. He is now willing to sacrifice his family’s economic well-being, his relationships—everything—for the sake of the bottle. This is his god, and it is a horrible one. In the end, it takes the poor miserable creature into its arms and proceeds to beat him to death. At the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.
1. What sorts of terrible things might a drunk do when he is under the intoxicating influences of alcohol?
2. How is the temptation to drunkenness a sort of spell that falls upon the drunkard?
3. What is the real sin underlying these addictions?