Many lives have been wasted or severely limited by substance abuse whether or not legal or illegal. In light of the rampant substance abuse in America, for the Day 175 reading, the passage that stands out is Proverbs 20:1. Before I quote this verse, let me quote a couple of resources that describe what a proverb is in general. One commentator (Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (p. 337). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books) describes Proverbs:
The Book of Proverbs is a collection of sayings, intended to serve as a guide for daily life. The sayings cover many different topics, exploring attitudes and relationships, and evaluating such things as wealth, poverty, and power.
Another resource (Willmington, H. L. (1997). Willmington’s Bible handbook (pp. 330–331). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers) reads:
The book of Proverbs is a collection of proverbs and wise sayings brought together for the purpose of imparting wisdom (see exposition on 1:1–7). Some of the proverbs deal with serious moral issues, while others are simply observations and advice about everyday life, such as one might expect from a person with the broad interests of King Solomon (see 1 Kings 4:32–33).
Proverbs 20:1 (ESV) reads:
1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.
In other translations it reads:
Proverbs 20:1 (NLT) – 1 Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls. Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.
Proverbs 20:1 (NCV) – 1 Wine and beer make people loud and uncontrolled; it is not wise to get drunk on them.
Proverbs 20:1 (GNB) – 1 Drinking too much makes you loud and foolish. It’s stupid to get drunk.
It doesn’t take much of an exegetical exercise to conclude that excessive alcohol (or other mind-altering drugs) consumption is a bad thing. One translation handbook (Reyburn, W. D., & Fry, E. M. (2000). A handbook on Proverbs (pp. 413–415). New York: United Bible Societies) explains this verse:
This verse says that it is not sensible to drink alcohol to excess. The person who is under the influence of alcohol does not behave wisely. More detailed warnings against drunkenness are 23:20, 21, 29–35; 31:4–5. Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler: This is a double figure of speech in which the subjects Wine and strong drink stand for the person who drinks them. Such a person is inclined to speak in an argumentative way (a mocker is the same Hebrew word as “scoffers” in the previous verse, 19:29) and to act aggressively (a brawler, CEV “leads to fights”). … Whoever is led astray by it: The sense of being “deceived” or “overtaken” by drink is a possible meaning of the Hebrew word translated in RSV as led astray. But the word is literally “staggers” or “is intoxicated” (as used of the reeling and intoxicated priest and prophet in Isa 28:7), which is very appropriate in this context. Scott renders it “staggers drunkenly,” while TEV and CEV have simply “get drunk.” Another possibility that is followed by some translations is “if you let it take control of you.” Is not wise: Being or becoming wise is what the book of Proverbs is about; but excessive drinking works against this desirable goal.
Paul wrote about alocohol consumption in 1 Timothy 5:23 (ESV) reads:
23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)
In light of this passage, it appears that the Bible does not impose a strict prohibition on alcohol, and it is probably not a stretch to include other legal drugs (e.g., pain relievers). However, abuse to the point of losing control and experiencing impaired judgment violates biblical teachings. See the passages cited above by Reyburn et al., which are:
Proverbs 23:20 (ESV) – 20 Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat,
Proverbs 23:21 (ESV) – 21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.
Proverbs 23:29–35 (ESV) – 29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? 30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. 31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. 33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. 34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. 35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”
Proverbs 31:4–5 (ESV) – 4 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, 5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
With the 2020 election on my mind, it is a bit of a puzzlement to me that I selected this passage for the Day 175 reading. No matter, one encouraging thing is that someone who is chained to substance addiction can be set free through the power of Jesus Christ. It is beyond the scope of this article to dive into the details, but one recovery group is Celebrate Recovery through Saddleback Church in California (link is https://saddleback.com/connect/ministry/celebrate-recovery ).
The Professor Grant Horner Bible Reading System is a great 500 day Bible reading plan. The following link presents a description of the plan ( https://sohmer.net/media/professor_grant_horners_bible_reading_system.pdf). My goal is to briefly share my thoughts on the passage that stands out the most for me each day. For Day 160, John 4:35-36 was the passage that stood out.
If you are reading this post and are not a Christian, unless God intervenes, your eternal destination is hell. But, your destiny can change. Today can be the day of your salvation. Please see my blog (https://stevebelsheim.com/2020/04/20/for-god-so-loves-you-2/) for a description of how you can be saved.
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