Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Although we know nothing about him, we see from verse 1 of this chapter that this proverb was written by King Lemuel.  It is a recording of the wisdom that his mother had passed on to him.  Proverbs 31:1says, “The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.”  The first warning that we have from King Lemuel’s mother is to refrain from a life of sexual lust and depravity.  Proverbs 31:3, “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” 

Next, we have instruction about the use and abuse of wine.  Let’s read Proverbs 31:4-7, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”  Especially to those in power, such as a king or a prince, there was a stern warning about being under the influence of wine.  If one in a position of authority came under the influence of alcohol, their judgment would be diminished and compromised.  It’s possible for such a one to cast aside the rightful claims of the law he was in position to uphold, and pervert the law through the limited ability to think clearly when under the influence of alcohol.  The Apostle Paul warns about the abuse of alcohol in Ephesians 5:18where he says, “…be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.”  If we are drunk with alcohol, we will be controlled by the alcohol.  If we are filled with the Spirit, we will be controlled by the Spirit.    

Solomon warned those who like to drink to excess in Proverbs 23:31-32, “Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.”  Those who long for intoxicating drinks are unstable and their life of drinking eventually will turn on them and bite like a snake and sting like an adder. 

As we continue reading in our portion, we learn, however, that there is proper use of wine.  Proverbs 31:6-7 says, “Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.”  There is a therapeutic use for wine.  It is proper to give wine to someone who is suffering and ready to die.  It is proper to give wine to someone who is suffering from severe depression because of the circumstances in his life.  While some may think this is an improper thing to do, we must be aware that this is God’s Word and it approves the use of wine in certain situations.  To deny that is to deny the truth of this portion we are considering.  I am a Hospice patient volunteer.  In this role, I have seen many people at the end of their lives.  Some, who are suffering greatly, are sometimes given morphine to take away the pain.  Morphine is a very strong medicine.  To miscalculate its proper dosage and usage can cause death, but when used properly, it can relieve the patient from severe pain and discomfort.  Is drinking wine any different?  When used in this way, wine can help to ease the suffering of those dying or depressed.  However, we must remember the directive we just read in Ephesians 5:18where it says, “…be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess.”  To use wine in a medicinal application is good; to misuse its purpose would be sin.

The Apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy to encourage him to take care of his physical health.  We read Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:23which says, “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.”  Timothy seems to be trying to set a good example to other believers, so was neglecting to take care of his health.  Perhaps he thought that to use wine in a therapeutic capacity would be wrong and would be a bad example, but Paul assures him that it would be okay for him to use wine properly.  So, we see there is a use and an abuse of wine.  We must be before the Lord to guide us to make sure we do not abuse wine’s proper use, but that we use it properly.  (138.2)