Proverbs- Session 9- 23:17-21, 29-35

Proverbs Session 9

Proverbs Powerpoint Session 9

Proverbs Handout Session 9


Subject:  Sobriety

Central Theme:  Living with Sobriety

Objective Sentence:  Every believer can live soberly by following these three directions.

Keyword:  Directions

1.  Don’t envy those who sin. V.17-19

2.  Know the right response to sin.  V.20-21

3.  Know the results of sin. V. 29-35




  • What is an example of a commercial that you can think of that caused you to respond the way it was designed?
  • Name the who these slogans refer to-
    • “15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.”
    • “Hope and Change”
    • “Make America Great Again”
    • “Think Different”
    • “Where’s the Beef?”
    • “You can do it. We can help.”


  • We are marketed to. A lot.
  • There are people who want us to vote a certain way, buy certain products, and participate in certain behaviors.
  • Some of these behaviors are permissible and helpful. Others are God dishonoring and dangerous.
  • Yet as we see people do things that are wrong we may be tempted to think that we are missing out on something.
  • We think that when God says don’t, that he means “don’t have fun.”
  • But when God says don’t, we should hear “don’t hurt yourself.” God has a reason why he commands us to do the right thing.
  • When it comes to what we eat and drink, God’s will is sobriety.

Every believer can live soberly by following these three directions.

1.  Don’t envy those who sin. (v.17-19)


  • There are times in life where those who do the right thing look around and see all kinds of people doing the wrong thing and enjoying themselves.
  • It seems at times that those who are evil are prospering.
  • It is true that there is a pleasure in sin, and if we’re not careful we will forget that the pleasure of sin is just for a season.
  • This is what the Father is pleading with his son to remember.

(17)Let not thine heart envy sinners: but be thou in the fear of the LORD all the day long.

  • He tells his son not to envy those who do wrong, but rather to fear God “all the day long”.
  • The father gives a really practical motivation for the son not to envy sinners.  That motivation is the “hereafter”.  He says “surely there is an end”.

(18)  For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off.  Pro 23:17-18

  • There is a life after this life.
  • There is a day of judgement for those who sin against God without repentance.
  • He also says “thine expectation shall not be cut off.”
    • The idea is that honoring God now by not participating in the pleasure of sin reflects the fact that the son believes in the hereafter.
    • The father is telling him to remember that there is an eternity, and that then he will be glad that he honored God.  In the end God will judge him rightly.
    • The wrong that sinners do will not go unpunished.  God is just.
  • No one envies the consequences of sin that people endure, so we should not envy the pleasure of sin that they experience for a season.
  • There are two remedies for envying the sinner in this passage.
    • The fear of the Lord.  We must seek to honor God when we are tempted to go along with those who are enjoying the pleasure of sin in the moment.
    • The hope of eternity.  When we are tempted to envy sinners we must remember the hope and reward that we have in eternity and do the right thing.

Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way. Pro 23:19


  • Remember that the context here is a father warning his son of the temptation of envying those who are enjoying sin.
  • Before he makes this very practical in verses 20 and following, he takes the time in verse 19 to give his son 3 imperatives in verse 19.

1.  Hear.

  • As a young person I am tempted not to listen to those older than me. It’s easy for me to think that I know better.
  • The father tells his son “hear”.
  • Don’t disregard what those who are older are telling you. There is so much value in learning from the experience of those who have lived longer than we have.

2. Be Wise.

  • This may seem like an obvious statement that has been said over and over in proverbs.
  • So many people ask the question “What is allowed?”, rather than the better question, “What is the wise thing to do?”.
  • Our aim should be for wisdom.

3. Guide your heart.

  • Young people are often told to “follow your heart”. Yet the Bible presents a different prescription.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  (10)  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:9-10

  • Instead of following our hearts, we must recognize that on our own the heart desires the wrong thing.
  • We need God to transform our hearts. Here the proverb tells us not to follow our hearts, but to, with wisdom, guide our hearts.


  • I want to submit to you, before we read the next few verses on what can be a controversial topic, that the way we can hear, be wise, and guide our hearts is by having a close interaction with the Word of God.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

  • The Word of God is a voice we need to listen to, the greatest repository of wisdom of all time, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of our hearts.
  • We must carefully and regularly listen to and obey what it says.

Every believer can live soberly by following these three directions.

1.  Don’t envy those who sin.

2.  Know the right response to sin. (V.20-21)

Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh:


  • We’ve been walking through some instruction that the father is giving to his son regarding how to relate to those who are sinful.
  • He has told his son not to envy sinners, but to listen, be wise, and to guide his own heart.  So, what does that look like practically?
    • “Be not among winebibbers”.
      • The command is given to avoid people who are addicted to and controlled by alcohol.
      • Do not make your company with them.
    • He also says this about “riotous eaters of flesh.”
      • These are people who make festivities around the gorging of food.
      • Some have said that the reason God had dietary laws for the children of Israel was to make them avoid the culture around pagan meals.
      • At times they were characterized by sexual impropriety, idol worship, and other things that will be listed later in the text.
      • The father tells his son to guide his heart and act wisely by not being around this kind of behavior.
    • He then gives a first reason as to why this kind of response is needed.

(21)  For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.  Proverbs 23:20-21

  • He says that the drunk and the glutton “shall come to poverty”.
  • He says that “drowsiness” shall create poverty as well.
    • What is drowsiness?  It’s the literal sleep and the lack of proactivity that comes from a lifestyle characterized by alcohol consumption and gorging oneself on food.



  • It has been said accurately, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
  • These verses are a specific application of that principle.  Being controlled by outside substances leads to all kinds of spiritual, relational, physical, and social problems.

Every believer can live soberly by following these three directions.

1.  Don’t envy those who sin.

2.  Know the right response to sin.

3.  Know the results of sin. V.29-34

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes?  (30)  They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.   Proverbs 23:29-32


  • Whenever you watch how alcoholic beverages are marketed in our culture, it is often shown to be glamorous, tasteful, image enhancing, and critical for having a good time.  Whenever anything is marketed the downside is left out.
  • Therein lies the danger of the potential lie that the father is trying to teach his son in this text.
    • He stated early, “let not thine heart envy sinners”.
    • This is a danger we might face as we watch how alcohol is marketed to us.
    • One may think, “They look cool.  They look like they are having fun!”.
  • Yet here, the writer of Proverbs helps us to understand the downside.
  • The questions come in list-like fashion in verse 29.  Those who are deceived by alcohol deal with:

1. Woe.

  • Dangerous and undesirable consequences or calamities.  How many horrible situations have been borne out of situations where alcohol was involved?

2. Sorrow.

  • This can include discouragement and even depression.

3. Contentions.

  • This speaks of fighting and disagreement.  Drinking often leads to fighting and harms relationships.

4. Babbling.

  • The inability to express yourself.  This speaks to the stupor created by drunkenness.

5. Wounds without cause.

  • This is a description of the person who has been so inebriated that they somehow injure themselves but do not remember it happening.

6. Redness of Eyes.

  • This is an apt description of one of the most basic effects of drunkenness.  As I read this it also lead me to think about the overall disposition of the drunk person as not put together, and reeling from the physical effects of the drug.
  • Who has these problems?
    • Those that “tarry long” and “seek mixed wine”.
      • These speak to the person who has an addiction to alcohol.
      • Now don’t let that minimize the danger to everyone.  The line that is raised here for addiction is not that high.
    • When you read through a description like this it can sound like a typical weekend at your local club or bar.
    • Now this doesn’t mean that everyone that drinks will experience all of these consequences every time they take a sip of alcohol.
    • It is more that these consequences are the potential of what could and often does happen in people’s lives when they include alcohol consumption as a part of their lifestyle.
    • Verse 31 states not to even look at wine when it is red.

(31)  Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

  • This speaks to when it is the most intoxicating.
  • In that day there was new wine which was either fresh and unfermented, or contained miniscule amounts of alcohol.
  • Then there was wine that was mixed with spices, honey and other ingredients to enhance its’ intoxicating power.
  • The admonition here is “don’t even look at it!”
  • Verse 32 gives the end of looking at, seeking for, and lingering long at strong drink.

 (32)  At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.

  • An Adder is a very poisonous snake.  This verse could be speaking of the effects of a hangover, the overall danger of drunkenness and impairment, or both.

Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.  (34)  Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.  (35)  They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.  Proverbs 23:33-35


  • These verses are replete with the potential dangers of alcohol consumption.  Here is the list.

1.  Bad relational and sexual decisions.

  • “Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things.”

2.  Danger because of bad decisions.

  • “Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast.”

3.  Fighting.

  • “They have stricken me, shalt thou say”

4.  Hangover.

  • and I was not sick”

5.  Physical injury.

  • “they have beaten me, and I felt it not”

6.  Lack of control.

  • “when shall I awake?”

7.  Addiction.

  • “I will seek it yet again.”


  • So much of the Bible’s discourse about alcohol consumption is argued over.  “How far is too far?” is the question that is always asked.
    • For sure, drunkenness is a line that everyone that reads the scripture and takes it seriously agrees on as being sinful.
    • I would argue that “drunkenness” is impairment of any kind, and that line is easily stepped over.
    • I also believe that “alcohol” was used medicinally in ancient times and was not prohibited to be used in this way.
    • “Strong drink” was alcohol meant for consumption that could create drunkenness and is always condemned in scripture.
  • Here is a better question than “How far is too far?”.  “What is the wise thing to do?”.  This is a much better question.
  • Why do you need to invite even the potential of the things listed above into your life?
  • We may think that we can handle it.
  • This is what everyone who has ever dealt with these problems has thought.
  • Even if you can, your public testimony can tempt others to participate and then endure these consequences over time.
  • Takes Proverbs advice here.  Don’t even look at it!  Stop seeking it!  Wisdom would make the appeal to find another way to quench your thirst and have a good time.
  • I know this is an unpopular position, but there is a strong case made here for avoiding alcohol altogether.  Why would you want to invite any of this into your life?
  • Ephesians 5:17-21 gives an excellent alternative to being drunk with alcohol.

Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.  (18)  And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;  (19)  Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;  (20)  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;  (21)  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.  Ephesians 5:17-21

  • Do not be controlled by alcohol.  Look what it leads to!
  • Instead, being controlled by the Holy Spirit!
  • When we are controlled by the Spirit it leads to worship, singing, thankfulness, and submission to others as unto the Lord.
  • The end of all of this favor with God and our brothers and sisters.  What a better alternative!


  • What is your relationship with alcohol?  Is it wise?
  • What do you teach your kids about alcohol?  Is it informed by scripture?
  • What is truly controlling you? Are you being filled with the Word of God and the Spirit of God or something else?
  • Take some time to give yourself to the control of the Word of God today!


Every believer can live soberly by following these three directions.

1.  Don’t envy those who sin.

2.  Know the right response to sin.

3.  Know the results of sin.


Proverbs- Session 9- Structural Outline

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