The Expository Files.


"Wine Is A Mocker"

Proverbs 20:1  

According to Proverbs 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise." Wine and strong drink turn men into mockers and brawlers. Those who are under their influence scoff at what is holy, reject correction, ridicule the serious. Furthermore, they are "no longer masters of themselves or restrained by the laws of morality or decency" (The Pulpit Commentary,[1950; rpt Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1958] vol. 9, p. 883) The Justice Department recently issued a report which beautifully illustrates the truth of this Proverb.

According to an Associated Press article in The Boston Globe ("Study Links Alcohol To Many Violent Crimes,"6 April 1998, p. A8, col. 5-6), the Justice Department says that "alcohol may be a factor in nearly 40 percent of violent crimes." What's more alcohol is a big "factor in violence by a variety of intimates - a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend ... Victims of spousal violence said three-fourths of their attackers used alcohol." In addition to this, "of the 5.3 million adult offenders in prison, jail, or on parole or probation in 1996, 36 percent reported that they had been drinking at the time of the offense for which they were convicted" And, by the way, "one in five victims of alcohol-related violence reports a financial loss." When injury occurred, the average out-of-pocket medical expense was $1,500." As a whole, each year the total financial loss to victims who suffered in alcohol-related violence is "more than $400 million."

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler," if you don't believe this take a tour of the local prisons. If you still don't believe, search out and find one of the many shelters from battered wives and children and think about the part that booze played in evicting these poor souls from their homes and in causing them to live in fear of the ones who ought to love them. If, after this, you remain unconvinced ... then it may be that you are beyond remedy.

"Wine is a mocker" - those who are under its influence defy common sense and reason; they see "strange things," say things that are "perverse," and experience emotions which are not true (cf. Proverbs 29:33-39). "Strong drink is brawler" - the tippler is loud, boisterous, without self-control. He experiences "woe ... sorrow ... contentions ...complaints ... [and] wounds without cause" (cf. Prov 23:29, 34). But does he learn ANYTHING? On the contrary, while he is in his stupor, bleeding from his wounds, laying in his vomit, urine and excrement he wonders, "When shall I awake?" and promises himself "I will seek another drink."

Jesus said that we can know a tree by the fruit it bears. A good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree bad. What is the fruit of the breweries, the distilleries, the wine merchants and saloons, pubs and bars? It is violence in the home, violence in our neighborhoods, violence on our roads; 2,016,000 million adult offenders in prison, jail ... on parole or probation in 1996 "who had been drinking at the time of the offense for which they were convicted." Can any good thing come from imbibing alcohol? Perhaps. But the dangers of drink are so great and the warning of scripture so clear, why take the risk? Resist! Resist!

The conclusion, when all has been heard is, "Do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper" (Proverbs 23:31-32).

By Kieran Murphy
From Expository Files 5.5; May 1998