Who Has Woe?

   Who has woe?
   Who has sorrow?
   Who has contentions?
   Who has complaints?
   Who has wounds without cause?
   Who has redness of eyes?
   Those who linger long at the wine,
   Those who go in search of mixed wine.
   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.
   Your eyes will see strange things,
   And your heart will utter perverse things.
   (Proverbs 23:29-33)

Drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:10). Drunkenness and revelries are works of the flesh (Galatians 5:21). They who turn to God must leave such things behind: "For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in licentiousness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries" (1 Peter 4:3).

Worldly people are often offended when a Christian refuses to go along with such things: "In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you. They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead" (1 Peter 4:4, 5).

Paul warns against drink: "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit" (Ephesians 5:18).

Licentiousness is a well-known result of drinking. Many start down the path of immorality while intoxicated. Some purposely try to make someone drunk as a means of seduction. "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbour, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!" (Habakkuk 2:15).

Some are misused sexually even without their knowledge while they are drunk, as happened to Lot (Genesis 19:32-35). Whoever delivers his soul over to the power of drink is responsible for the results. "Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise" (Proverbs 20:1).

We are therefore warned not to associate with drinkers: "Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags" (Proverbs 23:20, 21).

We may not keep company with a brother who is a drunkard. We may not even eat with such a person. He must be expelled from our fellowship until he repents (1 Corinthians 5:11-13).

Violence and drunkenness often go hand-in-hand. The unfaithful servant was guilty of both: "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 24:48-51).

Jesus warns us: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly" (Luke 21:34).

Drink is deceptive. A person's judgement can be impaired without his even knowing it! "Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart" (Hosea 4:11). "Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them! The harp and the strings, the tambourine and flute, and wine are in their feasts; but they do not regard the work of the LORD, nor consider the operation of His hands" (Isaiah 5:11, 12).

For this reason, priests under the Old Covenant were to drink no wine when they were on duty. "Do not drink wine or intoxicating drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tabernacle of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that you may distinguish between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses" (Leviticus 10:9-12).

Isaiah brought an accusation against the unfaithful priests and prophets of his time. "But they also have erred through wine, and through intoxicating drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through intoxicating drink, they are swallowed up by wine, they are out of the way through intoxicating drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that no place is clean" (Isaiah 28:7, 8).

People in responsible positions ought not to drink. "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, nor for princes intoxicating drink; lest they drink and forget the law, and pervert the justice of all the afflicted" (Proverbs 31:4, 5).

An elder in the church may not be one who is given to wine (1 Timothy 3:3; Titus 1:7).

Drink is also disadvantageous financially. "He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich" (Proverbs 21:17).

There are many men who think it is 'manly' to drink. The Scriptures teach otherwise. "Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink" (Isaiah 5:22).

The strong are those who remain sober. "Those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober" (1 Thessalonians 5:7, 8).

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive