Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish! Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
While considering today’s verses from Proverbs 31, I saw an opportunity to share wisdom about substance abuse while also acknowledging the teaching of wise mothers, like King Lemuel’s and many others.
In their training, preachers learn they must not take the Bible’s teachings out of context or try to interpret them apart from other Scriptures. This principle is especially helpful for understanding Proverbs 31:6-7, which should be read in the context of passages like Proverbs 23’s warnings: lingering over wine “bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.”
Lemuel’s mother was suggesting that alcohol might serve as an anesthetic to alleviate needless pain and anguish. But kings and other leaders, she said, must be sober in order to govern justly. Similarly calling each of us to “follow God’s example,” Paul states, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:1, 18). The influence of the indwelling Holy Spirit is what leads to a life that pleases God.
Jesus declined any drug while accomplishing his mission to die for our sake (Mark 15:23); with a clear mind he bore the weight of all our sin. Remember and believe, while striving to be more like him—an obedient servant of God.
Gracious God, thank you for the power of your indwelling Spirit, who makes it possible for us to live gratefully, gracefully, and soberly as your children. In Christ, Amen.
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