Proverbs 23:29
Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has needless wounds? Who has bloodshot eyes?
The Portrait of a DrunkyardAlexander MaclarenProverbs 23:29
A Temperance TopicG. B. F. Hallcock.Proverbs 23:29-35
Against IntemperanceD. O. Mears.Proverbs 23:29-35
Against IntemperanceD. J. Burrell.Proverbs 23:29-35
Description of DrunkennessGeorge Lawson, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35
DrunkennessH. Thorne.Proverbs 23:29-35
DrunkennessMonday Club SermonsProverbs 23:29-35
DrunkennessW. Clarkson Proverbs 23:29-35
On the Sin of DrunkennessE. Miller, M.A.Proverbs 23:29-35
Pleasant Vices DangerousScientific IllustrationsProverbs 23:29-35
Returning from Evil WaysT. De Witt Talmage, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35
Safety Imperceptibly Passed by the DrinkerR. Maguire.Proverbs 23:29-35
The Drink SerpentG. A. Bennetts, B.A.Proverbs 23:29-35
The Drunkard's PictureD. Thomas, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35
The Perils of DrunkennessE. Johnson Proverbs 23:29-35
The Warning Against IntemperanceR. Newton, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35
The Woes of the DrunkardA. Maclaren, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35
The Woes of the DrunkardDean Farrar.Proverbs 23:29-35
Woes of IntemperanceA. Maclaren, D.D.Proverbs 23:29-35

I. THE IMMEDIATE EXTERNAL EFFECTS. (Vers. 29, 30.) Trouble, quarrels, violence, deformity. "No translation or paraphrase can do justice to the concise, abrupt, and energetic manner of the original." "Oh that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains! that we should with joy, revel, pleasure, and applause, transform ourselves into beasts!"

II. THE ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCES. (Ver. 32.) It "bites like a serpent, and spits poison like a basilisk." This is the course of all sin; like Dead Sea fruits that tempt the taste, and turn to ashes on the lips. It is the "dangerous edge of things," against which men have to be on their guard. The line between use and abuse is so easily passed over. Corruptio optimi pessima.

III. THE EFFECT ESPECIALLY ON THE INTELLIGENCE. (Vers. 33-35.) The mind falls into bewilderment, and sees double or awry. The victim of intoxication is indeed "at sea," and like one sleeping on the very verge of danger and sudden death. In a spiritual sense he is drunk who does not perceive the great danger of his soul, but becomes more secure and stubborn under every chastisement (Jeremiah 5:8). It is the dreadful insensibility - depicted by yet. 35 which imitates the thought and speech of the drunkard - which is among the worst consequences of the vice. "The sight of a drunkard is a better sermon against that vice than the best that was ever preached upon the subject." "He who hath this sin, hath not himself; whosoever doth commit it, cloth not commit sin, but he himself is wholly sin" (Augustine). - J.

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.
The ugly sketch given here should be enough to warn all young people against tampering with a vice which may make it a portrait of them. The questions, six in number, fall into three pairs, which deal respectively with the man's feelings of discomfort, his relations with others, and his physical sufferings. Who is the original of this foul picture of degradation and misery? The answer is keenly sarcastic. It is the man who "lingers long over the wine." The loss of the power of self-control is indicated in the term. If we would only realise the "afterwards" of any vice, we should turn from it with dread. The misfortune is, that we do not look an inch beyond the present pleasure. Note three degrading effects of drunkenness.

1. The effect in deceiving the senses and lowering the moral tone.

2. The common sense, the instinct of self-preservation, ordinary prudence, and the sense of the fitness of things, are suspended.

3. The last piece of degradation is given, for greater liveliness of impression, in the form of the drunkard's own soliloquy. He feels himself all over as he begins to rouse from his tipsy sleep, and pities himself that he has been so badly handled. He is waking, but he is not yet himself. As he staggers back into consciousness, the first thing that he thinks of is a renewal of his debauch. The awful tyranny of the evil habit, which has become a diseased second nature, is only too well known.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

The first difficulty in the way of return for the intemperate, who have got on the wrong tack, is the force of moral gravitation. It is easier to go down than it is to go up. The next thing is the power of evil habit. If a man wants to return from evil practices, society repulses him. How may these obstacles be overcome?

1. Throw yourself on God.

2. Quit all your bad associations.

3. Seek Christian advice. If you have a Christian friend, go to him.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)

As implied in this passage this indicates the tendency of human nature.

1. The moral degradation of intemperance. It is the destruction of everything manly and noble in human nature.

2. The physical degradation. Corruption in the heart works out its marks upon the face and in the manners. A distinguished German authority has given the scientific degradation resulting upon the generations succeeding the victim of the drink habit.

3. The social degradation. Intemperance as an evil reaches the state. Nine-tenths of the crimes of society result from, or are abetted by, drink. This theme is a warning. Directly and indirectly, the appeal is made to all who come within the sound of its voice.

(D. O. Mears.)


1. Sorrow (ver. 29). Drink has probably broken more hearts than any other thing. It is taken to drown sorrow, but, alas! it creates it.

2. Folly. "Babbling" — a profanation of the sacred gift of speech, and as such is to be avoided (1 Timothy 6:20).

3. Disease. "Wounds." Look in at the hospitals. Read the medical reports.

4. Disfigurement. "Redness cf the eyes."

5. Waste of time. "Tarry long."

6. Dissatisfaction. "Yet again" (ver. 35). Drink creates an insatiable appetite for itself.

7. Insensibility. "Felt it not" (ver. 35). The nerves of the drunkard are benumbed, and nature's monitors are impaired. Physical insensibility is followed by moral insensibility (Ephesians 4:19).

8. Uncleanness. Drink fires the passions, and gives the "strange women" (ver. 33) their best opportunities.

9. Exposure to danger (ver. 34).

II. THE REMEDY FOR DRUNKENNESS (ver 31). It is very simple. Abstain from strong drink — don't even look at it. Temptation sometimes enters through the eye. But beyond and above all look to Jesus for deliverance from this and every other form of evil.

(H. Thorne.)

Scientific Illustrations.
Gas is a great spoiler of the air; but it has the merit of giving timely warning of the danger by the horrible smell which accompanies its escape. This smell is perceptible when there is only one part in a thousand parts of air; becomes very offensive when the proportion is 1/750 or 1/500, and is almost insupportable as the proportion increases. If the gas has escaped from a crack in the pipes, and been allowed to mingle with the air in which a free circulation by ventilation is possible, so that the proportion of gas amounts to 1/11, it explodes on the introduction of a candle. But the reason why this catastrophe so seldom occurs is because the smell of gas is so utterly offensive that the evil demands and receives proper attention long before it reaches danger point. This fact illustrates very well a great truth in the moral world, namely, that when evil is offensive in itself its danger to the community is slight. In exact ratio to the pleasantness of vice is the danger to be apprehended from it.

(Scientific Illustrations.)

1. The use of intoxicating drinks is financially unbusinesslike. It keeps men in poverty, and they keep their families is the deepest want.

2. It destroys self-respect.

3. It defiles the body.

4. It destroys life.

5. It enfeebles the mind.

6. It breaks down the will.

7. It obliterates heart and conscience.

8. It destroys souls. Let us use our every influence to correct this evil.

(G. B. F. Hallcock.)


1. Example. Seeing others in this state, and imitating them without being aware of the results which will follow.

2. Evil associations. We cannot be too careful in selecting our associates.

3. Afflictions of a peculiar kind, especially mental, and those produced by disappointment.

4. The ease with which liquor is procured.


1. Babbling. Owing to temporary deprivation of the use of reason.

2. Contentions. The man acts like a madman.

3. Wounds without cause.

4. Redness of eyes.


1. From the consumption of his property.

2. From the loss of his reputation.

3. From the decay of his health.

4. From the injury done to his family.

5. From the loss of his immortal soul.

IV. THE DUTY OF AVOIDING THE SIN OF DRUNKENNESS. Think not that it will do you good, but reflect on the consequences to which it leads, so abominable in the sight of God, so injurious to yourselves and those around you, and so hateful in the estimation of all those who truly reflect.

(E. Miller, M.A.)

Monday Club Sermons.
The Bible considers intemperance in all its phases, and shows that, with all other sins, it springs from a sinfulness which is common to mankind, and shows that the true remedy for it, as for all sins, lies in the deliverance Divinely provided for the sinfulness which is their root.

I. THE DRUNKARD'S CONDITION IS DESCRIBED. Woes and sorrows, strifes and anxieties, wounds and diseases, deadened perceptions and a destroyed will, mingle in this awful picture. Here is disclosed a general wreck of manhood.

1. Physical evils. Alcohol vitiates the blood and fills it with poisonous humour. The changes produce gross and enfeebled bodies, diseases of the heart, lungs, and other organs, and a constant waste of physical powers.

2. Mental evils. Alcohol directly affects the brain. It creates an unnatural brilliancy of intellect. But this brief advantage is purchased at the cost of the mind itself. Other effects on the mind seriously deteriorate a man's progeny. Drink destroys not only the mind of the drunkard, but also the mind of his offspring.

3. Moral and spiritual evils. Drunkenness inflames the passions. It leads to contentions. It is the great cause of crime. It destroys self-control and thus overthrows the citadel of manhood.

II. THE STEPS BY WHICH MEN BECOME DRUNKARDS. Alcohol is first taken in its simplest, as wine, beer, cider. At first it is taken only occasionally, and at the invitation of others. Literature lends its voice to enticing temptations. Those who allow themselves to acquire the habit of drinking make that which they hate a part of themselves.

III. THE WAY TO AVOID BEING A DRUNKARD. Let alcohol alone. Keep in view that the woes of drink come from an indulgence that was moderate in the beginning. No temptation to drink is more dangerous than that which makes it a sign of good-fellowship. Total abstinence is the only safe ground to stand upon. But the Christian will do more than hold himself in safety. The Christian must give all the weight of his influence, by example, word, and action, as a Christian, a neighbour, and a citizen, against this evil.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

I. THE DELUSIVENESS OF THIS SIN. Call no pleasure pleasurable until you have asked what the cost is to be.


1. The drunkard is contentious.

2. He is a discontented man.

3. He loses his mind.

4. He is a reckless man.


1. The speech of the drunkard is bad.

2. The body is harmed by drink.

3. The drunkard tends to become possessed of all evil desires.

IV. THIS WAY OF LIVING BECOMES PERMANENT. In its origin drunkenness is but an episode; in its conclusion it is a character. What a man does once he tends to do again.

1. This permanence is shown in the deliberateness of the drunkard's full-grown folly.

2. And so the habit fastens itself more and more firmly upon him, until at last, even when he is grovelling in the lowest depths, he still calls ever for more of that which has brought him there. The more a man drinks, the more he does not want to stop.

(D. J. Burrell.)

Is it not Shakespeare himself who says, by the mouth of the disgraced and ruined Cassio, "O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee Devil"? What does drink cost in human misery? Ah, how can I tell you? Can I count the leaves of the forest, or the sands upon the shore? And the sounds of this misery are like the sighing of the leaves of illimitable forests, and the plashing on the shores of unfathomable seas. For it is the horrible fact that the drink which we, as a nation, are drinking, not from the necessities of thirst, but from the mere luxuries of appetite — drink often adulterated with the vilest and most maddening ingredients — yes, this rubied and Circean cup which we sip, and smile while it is converting thousands of our brethren into swine — this subtle, serpentine, insidious thing which we cherish in our bosoms, and laugh and play with its brightness, while it is stinging thousands of our brothers into raging madness — costs us millions of money, myriads of criminals, thousands of paupers, thousands of ruined women, hundreds and thousands of men and women goaded by misery, into suicide and madness, with every blossom in what might have been the garland of their lives blighted as by a fury's breath.

(Dean Farrar.)

Who can detect the line of demarcation that separates the colours of the rainbow, where the yellow tint blends into the deep orange colour, and that deep orange colour into the deeper red! What mind, however disciplined or practised, can tell the line of demarcation that shades off the varying sentiments of men, and separates the schools of theological opinion? And if the human eye, aided by the most powerful lenses, cannot discern any line of demarcation in the tints of the rainbow, and the skilled theologian cannot pronounce as to where or what is the dividing line between one school of theology and another, how can we expect the dulled, darkened, blunted brain of the drinker to be able to detect that imperceptible line in his progress, at one side of which is safety, and beyond it danger? Or, suppose he could, would it be ethically right for a man to push forward designedly to the furthest verge where he supposed that moral innocence merged into guilt and sin? The rainbow tints may indeed thus meet and blend; phases of thought and opinion may shade off into each other; but it surely can never be that moral innocence and moral guilt could ever stand in such close proximity together as that the one should merge into the other.

(R. Maguire.)

We should mind this warning against the serpent of intemperance, because —




(R. Newton, D.D.)

Drink is like the serpent —

I. BECAUSE IT IS POISONOUS. Alcohol is primarily a brain-poison, but there is not a tissue nor an organ of the body which it does not injure.

II. BECAUSE IT IS SUBTLE (Genesis 3:1). As a rule men glide into drunkenness unconsciously to themselves. Probably the drunkard is the last person to know that he has become such.

III. BECAUSE IT IS LIKE THE DEVIL. In the Scriptures the serpent is the symbol of Satan. Drink, like the devil, leads men into all kinds of sin. The connection of drink with unchastity is set forth in this passage.

(G. A. Bennetts, B.A.)

An inferior master in the art of moral painting gives us a just picture of drunkenness in these words. "Drunkenness is a distemper of the head, a subversion of the senses, a tempest of the tongue, a storm in the body, the shipwreck of virtue, the loss of time, a wilful madness, a pleasant devil, a sugared poison, a sweet sin, which he that has, has not himself, and he that commits it, doth not only commit sin, but is himself altogether sin."

(George Lawson, D.D.)

1. His sensual indulgence.

2. His offensive garrulousness.

3. His bloodshot face. The habits of the man come to be marked by their effects upon his looks.

4. His wretched condition.

5. His easy temptability. He is ripe for the crimes of adultery, falsehood, blasphemy, and other enormities.

6. His reckless stupidity.

7. His unconquerable thirst. However bitter his reflections upon his awaking, and his remorse, his thirst remains unquenched.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

The Assyrians had a fancy that, if a demon saw his own face in a mirror, he could not bear the ugly sight, and would vanish. Unfortunately, vicious men are not so easily frightened, for many a drunkard knows perfectly what a degraded creature he has made himself, and yet is not restrained. But the photograph may deter others from beginning so suicidal a course. The appeal to consequences may not be the highest, but it is legitimate, and ought to be powerful with all rational beings. The consequences here appealed to are exclusively personal ones, there being no reference to the drunkards' miserable homes, to wrecked family blessings, nor even to blasted prospects, and the havoc wrought by drink in pauperising and bringing to rags. What it does to the man himself in body and soul is the portrait painter's theme here. The torrent of questions with which he begins brings out the mental discomfort and bodily mischief consequent on intoxication. The two questions in verse 29B repeat the substance of the' three in A. "Complaining" seems to include "woe" and "sorrow," and "wounds without cause" are the natural results of the "contentions" equally without cause. According to the best and most recent authorities, the bodily symptom here noticed is dulness, not "redness," of eyes, the glazed, unperceiving stare so sadly well known as a sign of intoxication. There are far more grave physical consequences of the habit than that — shattered nerves, shaking hands, knotted livers — but the painter here is thinking rather of the act than of the habit. His answer to his questions comes with emphasis, and has a dash of sad irony in it. What an epitaph for a man: "He was a connoisseur in wines; he did not know much about science or history or philosophy or theology or art or commerce or morality, but he was a perfect master at blending whisky!" A solemn warning follows the etching of the drunkard, which is bitten in on the plate with acid. The wine appeals to the sense of sight, as it gleams in golden cup or crystal goblet, and it appeals also to the sense of taste as "it goeth down smoothly." But it is not done with when it is swallowed, and, like all delights of sense, it has an "afterwards" which is not delightful. "Violent delights have violent ends." In verse 33 we see him in the height of his excitement; in verse 34, in the stupor that follows; in verse 35, in his waking. The first stage is marked by hallucinations and a torrent of vile speech. "Thine eyes shall behold strange things," by which are meant the absurd delusions of the drunkard. Imagination is stimulated, and the senses befooled, by the fumes; the man reels about in a world of his own creating, which has nothing corresponding to it in reality. There is a still more terrible meaning possible to this part of the picture, though probably not the one intended — namely, the frightful visions accompanying delirium tremens, which dog the drunkard's steps, and drive him into paroxysms of terror. Further, his loss of self-control is signalised by the loose speech in which the rank heart pours itself out in "perverse things." There is a strange and awful connection between intoxication and foul words from the depths of the "evil treasure" of the heart. The second stage is that of collapse and stupor. The excitement, of course, ends in that, and the drunkard flings himself down anywhere, utterly careless of danger, and utterly unconscious of his surroundings. He is like a man that "lieth down in the midst of the sea," neither a comfortable nor a safe bed, "or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast," where there is neither room to lie, nor security as the ship rolls, and the uneasy couch rolls still more. He sleeps out his heavy slumbers, and, when he does, he discovers for the first time the bruises and wounds which he has received. But these do not curb the tyrannous appetite which brought them on him. Undeterred by them, he wishes for the complete return of sober consciousness, only that he may renew his debauch. Christ's solemn saying, "Whoso committeth sin is the slave of sin," has no more tragical exemplification than in the miserable drunkard, who can no more resist the craving for drink than he can stop Niagara.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

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