Thursday, December 1, 2011

Proverbs 23 & 24 - Thirty Sayings of the Wise and Alcoholism

LINKProverbs 23 & Proverbs 24
(Read over the next two days) 

BACKGROUND

I am doing the background for two chapters today because they are part of a section from Proverbs 22:17 - 24:22 called "thirty sayings of the wise." This section is different in style from the section from 10:1-22:16 in that there are at least 20 instances in which two verses express a complete thought, rather than one (22:17-18, 20-21; 23:1-2). Seven verses have three lines rather than the normal two lines (22:29; 23:5, 29, 31; 24:14, 27, 31), and two verses each have four lines (23:7; 24:12). You will also notice "my son" occurs five times (13:15, 19, 26; 24:13, 21) whereas it occurs only once in 10:1-22:16.

Many of the sayings start with the warning "do not" (22:22, 24, 26, 28; 23:3-4, 6, 9-10, 13, 17, 20, 22-23, 31, 24:1, 15, 17, 19, 21, 28-29). Also, each of the 30 sayings in this section includes a reason for the warning or other advice.

It is thought that this section was written by other wise men and not Solomon, perhaps compiled in his lifetime or later.

In the "sayings of the wise" in Proverbs 23:1 - 24:22, there are warnings about gluttony, materialism, stealing, sluggards, envy of sinners, wickedness, drunkenness and conduct around stingy, foolish, drunken, or gluttonous men. They also include instruction on discipline of children, obedience to and honoring parents, wisdom, and defense of the persecuted.

Proverbs 24:23-34 includes six "additional sayings of the wise." These discuss justice and injustice in courts, honesty, priorities, false witnessing, revenge, and laziness (24:30-34 is similar to 6:6-11).

REFLECTION on Proverbs 23:29-35 (written in 2009)

Proverbs 23:29-35GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)

 Who has trouble?
Who has misery?
Who has quarrels?
Who has a complaint?
Who has wounds for no reason?
Who has bloodshot eyes?

    Those who drink glass after glass of wine

        and mix it with everything.
 
Do not look at wine
    because it is red,
    because it sparkles in the cup,
    because it goes down smoothly.
  
            Later it bites like a snake
                  and strikes like a poisonous snake.
     Your eyes will see strange sights,
        and your mouth will say embarrassing things.
     You will be like someone lying down in the middle of the sea
        or like someone lying down on top of a ship’s mast, saying,
            
            They beat me, but I’m not aware of it.
                Whenever I wake up, I’m going to look for another drink.”
I read these words with such an ache in my heart. It comes at the end of a week where I have reflected somberly on my brother's untimely, alcohol-related death last July. His memorial service was held on the same day the U.S. Olympic Volleyball Team won Olympic Gold in Beijing. Since he once played on the US team, there was a special message from the team on the sad occasion of his memorial. My brother traveled the world, shook the hands of many foreign dignitaries (including Fidel Castro), made it to the pinnacle of his sport, yet his life ended married to the bottle and all alone.

I have reflected upon his death because of the many reminders of alcohol's ravaging effects throughout this past week:

SUNDAY: Dennis Rodman, former NBA All-Star, was confronted by his teammates on the show, Celebrity Apprentice, about his drinking problem after drinking glass after glass of vodka cranberry throughout the challenge and behaving very badly. Apparently, it is the second time he has been confronted about it on national television.

WEDNESDAY: I read Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era about Ulysses S. Grant. He was a great general who rose to become the President of the United States but had a binge drinking problem.

THURSDAY: I read about Edgar Allen Poe in an American Literature class I facilitate with high school students. He was found in a gutter with alcohol on his breath and died four days later, utterly alone at the age of 40. Apparently, he struggled with alcohol throughout his life.

All four of these men excelled in their fields of volleyball, basketball, the military, and literature; but each of them had a problem with alcohol that marred their potential as human beings. How very tragic!

Alcohol abuse is so rampant, and few of us are left untouched by its ravaging effects. This proverb speaks truth about its dangers.

APPLICATION

Maybe you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol. I have two family member who have been greatly helped through Alcoholics Anonymous. Go to their website to find out how to get help or how to help someone else struggling with alcoholism.

Alcoholics Anonymous

PRAYER

Lord, help us to be a light to someone who struggles with this terrible addiction. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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