For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Overdrinking or overeating will make you poor. Young men are especially vulnerable to these temptations, as most any American college fraternity will prove. Solomon, the wise king and father, warned his nation and son against these two evils and their destructive effects on a man’s career and finances. America, the land of plenty and then some, is a prime breeding ground for these corrupting excesses. Let every young man beware!
Consider the context. Solomon asked his son to hear, be wise, and choose what is right (Pr 23:19). He warned him against drunkards and gluttons (Pr 23:20). He also exhorted his son to honor both parents (Pr 23:22), put a priority on wisdom (Pr 23:23), and to consider the great joy a wise life could give parents (Pr 23:24-25). The danger of these two foolish, youthful lusts is great, so he forbad association with such sinners (Pr 23:20).
Young men think drunkenness is cool – because they are childish, foolish, and ignorant (Pr 22:15). They actually boast about getting sick and puking on themselves. They revel in how long their hangovers last. But a holy God considers it sinful and stupid. Drinking until you are drunk is a sin against heaven (I Cor 6:9-11; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:18), and it is stupid for the painful consequences such drinking brings (Pr 23:29-35; 31:4-5).
Young men think gorging themselves is cool – because they are childish, foolish, and ignorant (Pr 22:15). They actually boast about eating enough to vomit. They revel in how much they can consume beyond what they need. But the great God considers it sinful and stupid. Excessive eating and carousing is a sin against heaven (Luke 21:34; Rom 13:13; I Pet 4:3), and it is stupid for its painful consequences (Pr 23:1-8; 25:16; 28:7; Luk 15:13).
Drunkenness and gluttony can ruin you economically. Remember the prodigal son! They create drowsiness through hangovers, digestive difficulties, diverted blood flow, and excess weight. The combination will reduce a man to wearing rags. “He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Pr 21:17). To succeed, a young man needs his full wits and strength – there is no room for drowsiness.
Drowsiness is a sin itself, when due to oversleeping, overdrinking, or overeating. You are not to love sleep, or you will get up late and not get going in the morning (Pr 20:13). Overdrinking causes hangovers and a lethargic person unable to perform with full wits and coordination. Overeating creates a similar drowsy effect and packs on pounds in the wrong places that hinder performance. They are all closely connected here, so you should know the two clauses identify drowsiness as the result of overdrinking and overeating.
Solomon did not see that today’s young men would be more foolish than his generation, but his proverb condemns them anyway. How could he know they would smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, take amphetamines, and inject heroin. The number of such fools languishing in poverty and prison through violating this simple proverb is Legion. The lesson is simple – God has condemned any abuse of his creation, and He demands our full minds and energies in all our pursuits (Pr 4:23; 10:4; 18:9; Eccl 9:10; Rom 12:11).
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), the renowned Puritan theologian and pastor, the third president of Princeton, and a spiritual man, wrote 70 resolutions at age 20 to guide his life. They are valuable reading. Consider his thoughts on food and drink. “Resolution 20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance, in eating and drinking.” “Resolution 40. Resolved, to inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could, with respect to eating and drinking.” He knew the danger of these lusts.
Television and movies today, popularizing and promoting the fraternity lifestyle, teach young men that drunkenness and gluttony are acceptable, intelligent, normal, and not detrimental to a successful and prosperous life. But the blessed God of heaven and the wisest man ever have spoken together – both are sins and will destroy young men. Let every reader take heed to reject these sins himself and to save others from them as well.
As America, with the world following her example, degenerates from its once structured, disciplined, and conservative lifestyle, the temptation to both sins increase greatly. The availability of cheap drink and food of great variety is greater than ever. The size of servings at fast-food, casual, or formal restaurants is much larger than before. The sedentary and easy job requirements of most workers allow a dull mind or unfit body.
Not only are these foolish and destructive sins to be avoided, but those persons who engage in them are to be avoided as well (Pr 23:20). Peer pressure is nearly an irresistible force against young people, and the only sure protection is to avoid all such sinners with careful and diligent efforts (Pr 4:14-17; I Cor 15:33). Drinking buddies, no matter how friendly, will ruin your life; and gorging with gluttons will lead to poverty and trouble.
Much overdrinking and overeating occurs at gatherings, where the party atmosphere and abundance of food supplied for a group create a lascivious mood and base peer pressure. Peter warned against lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, and banquetings (I Pet 4:3). Christians should not live this way, no matter what the world thinks of them (I Pet 4:1-5). These five sins or categories of sins are exactly what this proverb condemns.
There is also drunkenness and gluttony at home, as retail accessibility to cheap alcohol and much food in many varieties tempts to the same two sins. Instead of drinking for a merry heart with wits intact (Ps 104:14-15; Pr 31:6-7), wine and strong drink are used excessively to drunkenness (Pr 23:29-35). Instead of eating for strength and activity (Eccl 10:16-17), many calories are consumed that create a whale’s blubber and lack of energy.
Wise men will obey the warning of this proverb from the pen of a king that had free and full access to any quantity and a great variety of both food and drink. Which of these two lusts and sins do you have the greatest problem with? Repent, and implement strict rules to keep you from violating godly temperance in either one. Are your motives consistent with God’s creation of each? Are the results of your drinking and eating both positive?
But there is a far worse poverty and nakedness! Drunkenness and gluttony will also steal your soul – they show a profane heart that has neither life now nor the hope of life in the world to come. They create spiritual drowsiness that causes men to forget and neglect their souls. O cruel appetites! What does the apostle of the Gentiles say, “Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness … But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof” (Rom 13:13-14).
The LORD Jehovah, creator of heaven and earth, and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, has offered seven glorious promises to men (II Cor 6:14-18). They are obtained by cleansing yourself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor 7:1). The greatest success and wealth in the universe has no room for drowsiness – the utmost of mind, soul, heart, and strength should be applied to this offer.
Free Daily Proverbs Commentary Email
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Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles.
Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
New International Version
16 Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead.
17 Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the unfaithful for the upright.
19 Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and nagging wife.
20 The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.
21 Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.
22 One who is wise can go up against the city of the mighty and pull down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
24 The proud and arrogant – “Mocker” is their name; they behave with insolent fury.
25 The craving of sluggards will be the death of them, because their hands refuse to work.
26 All day long they crave for more, but the righteous give without sparing.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is detestable – how much more so when brought with evil intent!
28 Those who give false witness will perish, but a careful listener will testify successfully.
29 The wicked put up a bold front, but the upright give thought to their ways.
30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the LORD.
16 A man who wanders out of the way of understanding shall abide in the congregation of the spirits (of the dead).
17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
18 The wicked become a ransom for the righteous, and the treacherous for the upright .
19 It is better to dwell in a desert land than with a contentious woman and with vexation.
20 There are precious treasures and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a self-confident and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it.
21 He who earnestly seeks after and craves righteousness, mercy, and loving-kindness will find life in addition to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God) and honor.
22 A wise man scales the city walls of the mighty and brings down the stronghold in which they trust.
23 He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from troubles.
24 The proud and haughty man–Scoffer is his name–deals and acts with overbearing pride.
25 The desire of the slothful kills him, for his hands refuse to labor.
26 He covets greedily all the day long, but the righteous gives and does not withhold.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is exceedingly disgusting and abhorrent –how much more when he brings it with evil intention?
28 A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears attentively will endure and go unchallenged.
29 A wicked man puts on the bold, unfeeling face , but as for the upright, he considers, directs, and establishes his way .
30 There is no wisdom or understanding or counsel against the Lord.
King James Version
16 The man that wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
18 The wicked shall be a ransom for the righteous, and the transgressor for the upright.
19 It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.
20 There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.
21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
22 A wise man scaleth the city of the mighty, and casteth down the strength of the confidence thereof.
23 Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
24 Proud and haughty scorner is his name, who dealeth in proud wrath.
25 The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.
26 He coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.
27 The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind?
28 A false witness shall perish: but the man that heareth speaketh constantly.
29 A wicked man hardeneth his face: but as for the upright, he directeth his way.
30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
Becoming a Christian
Would you like to experience forgiveness and new life from the God of the Bible, who calls every person to believe that he sent his son Jesus Christ to make this possible?
The Bible explains why everyone needs to receive forgiveness and is called to serve Jesus Christ. The consistency of the Bible story, which was authored by people living thousands of years apart from diverse cultures and even different languages, is often cited as evidence of divine inspiration. Wikipedia has a list of many Biblical prophesies which have come true.
The story of God’s plan to restore his relationship with us can be summarised in eight famous Bible verses below.
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
- God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
- Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
- If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
- For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
- But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
- Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
The truth in these verses is simple, yet to embrace it means letting go of all our personal hopes and dreams and embracing God’s greater purpose for our lives instead, a purpose far above anything we could dream or imagine.
This is the most important decision you will ever make, because it affects not just the rest of your life here on earth, but what comes after as well. Don’t put it off until too late. If you died tonight make the decision to spend eternity with your loving Father in Heaven.
If you’re wondering what to do next as a new Christian, check out these helpful suggestions from Mary Fairchild on About.com:
- Become a Christian
- 4 Essentials to Spiritual Growth
- Christianity Basics
- What is God’s Plan of Salvation?
- Salvation Scriptures
- God’s Gift – Salvation Poem