Proverbs 20:1

Wine is a Mocker

1a Wine is a mocker

1. Wine: Yayin:

a. 140 occurrences in the Old Testament

b. Translated as “wine” 138 times, [“banqueting” once, and “winebibbers” once.]

c. This is by far the most common term for wine in the Old Testament. It is most often used of fermented grape juice, and intoxicating beverage (Gen. 9:21).

d. However, it is on occasion, used of unfermented grape juice (Isa.16:10).

e. Of course, the term is also used of a fermented juice that CAN cause intoxication. (Hos.4:11).

2. It is necessary to know HOW wine was drunk in Bible times.

a. Often the term referred simply to grape juice… the fruit of the vine.

b. Sometimes the term referred to fermented juice—just like our wine today.

c. But they didn’t drink wine as we do today.
• They mixed wine with between 3–10 parts water, which would make it extremely difficult to become intoxicated by it.
• They mixed their water with wine in order to purify and perhaps sweeten their drinking water… lest they end up with stomach problems.
• They considered drinking STRAIGHT wine to be barbaric.

d. Straight wine—unmixed—was what they called “strong drink.”
• The distilling process to make what WE call strong drink today (whiskey, etc.) had not yet been invented.

e. Wine was also used as a medicine and as an ancient form of anesthesia to numb the pain. (when amputating a limb; or some other injury; etc.)

3. Thus, it was necessary for the ancients to USE wine.

a. There was almost no way to avoid its use.

b. It was a water purifier and a medicine.

c. The good Samaritan poured wine on the wounds of the man he found on the roadway.

d. Paul told Timothy to use a little wine for his stomach’s sake.

e. This might seem foreign to us, but it was common knowledge to the ancients.

f. And because wine had to be USED so often in Bible times, and had so many various legitimate uses, there was also the possibility of ABUSE.

g. It is this issue of abuse that Solomon brings before his people:
• Use it when necessary; wine can be very helpful;
• But be careful, because wine can also be very hurtful.
• Wine is also a mocker!

4. Mocker

a. To mock; deride; scorn; ridicule; make fun of.

b. This term is used 12 times in Proverbs.

c. It is used three times in immediate context where it is translated scorner:
• 19:25 – Scorners are to be smitten; yet they don’t learn.
• 19:28 – The ungodly scorn justice… God’s sense of right and wrong.
• 19:29 – Punishment is prepared for scorners.

d. Then in the very next breath he writes, wine is a scorner!
• I wish here this word was translated as it was in the three passages above…
• That would give us a sense of continuation of the same theme of mockers and scorners.

e. Wine is a mocker because those who come under its influence are often mocked… ridiculed… laughed to scorn.
• People who become intoxicated do some pretty foolish things.

1. They make a public fool of themselves.

2. They dance on the coffee table with a lampshade on their head.

3. If you dare them to jump off the roof they will.

4. They can’t walk a straight line.

5. They can’t make a complete sentence.

6. They drool… they slur… they fall on their face… they vomit…
• When Solomon says “wine is a mocker,” this is a poetic way of speaking about wine as if it were a person…

1. Solomon pictures wine as a person who laughs at you and your calamity…

2. Wine is seen as a person who mocks you for all the stupid things you do and say.

3. Solomon speaks of wine as the agent that makes you act in a stupid manner… then wine laughs at you to scorn your foolish behavior!

4. Solomon says: this is what wine will do to you!

5. Wine is a scorner. It will scorn you.

f. Prov. 22:1 – Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
• Scorners of all stripes cause contention and strife.
• Whatever it is that is causing the scorning and the mockery is the cause of the contention too.
• Get rid of the scorner and the contention ceases!
• This is certainly true in the life of one who abuses alcohol. He can expect much strife and contention.
• But if he gets rid of the scorner (drinks) the contention often ceases.
• This is the clear implication of Solomon’s words concerning wine.

5. Clearly this is a warning from God.

a. Beware of wine. Wine is a mocker.

b. It will end up mocking you… rendering you fit for scorn.

c. Consider the last few proverbs: Scorners are to be smitten. Scorners are to be punished. And wine is a scorner!

1b Strong drink is raging:

1. Strong drink:

a. This term refers to fermented grape juice (wine) that is not mixed with water.

b. It was an intoxicating beverage. The godly Jews always mixed their wine with many parts of water… and its alcoholic content became negligible.

2. Consider some similar warnings about “strong drink” in the Old Testament:

→ Isaiah 5:22 – Woe unto them that are mighty for drinking wine, and men valiant to mix strong drink.


→ Isaiah 24:9 – They do not drink wine with a song; strong drink is bitter to them that drink it.
Here, strong drink results in bitterness.

→ Isaiah 28:7 – But these also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are they gone astray. The priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink; they are overpowered by wine, they are gone astray through strong drink; they have erred in vision, they have stumbled in judgment.
Here, strong drink causes men to err and go astray. This is hardly an endorsement.

3. Raging:

a. To be in a stir, be in a commotion; boisterous, turbulent.

b. Be disturbed, i.e., be in a state of anxiety and distress.

c. Boisterous, brawler.

4. Here too the warning is clear. Strong drink is raging.

a. Strong drink stirs things up… it causes turbulence… a commotion… it causes trouble.

b. Strong drink also leads to brawling… fighting…

c. This hardly needs to be expanded upon. Just visit any barroom across the country or the world on a Friday night around midnight. You will see plenty of turbulence and brawling.

d. Other passages warn that it causes you to err in judgment and to go astray.

5. Wine is a mocker. Strong drink is raging. That’s a pretty good warning. It is reason enough for a thoughtful Christian to want to stay away.

1c And whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

1. Here we are told that wine also deceives.

a. Means: to lead astray, to be mislead (it has moral overtones)

b. Wine deceives because it delivers the opposite of what it promises.

c. People drink to drown their sorrows and to try to be happy.

d. Alcohol is advertised with pictures of people having a great time at a party…

e. But alcohol often delivers something very different.

f. Prov. 23:29, 34 – Alcohol leads to sickness, sorrow, and wounds.

g. Alcohol deceives people into thinking “I can handle this” when it is known to be an addictive substance. Many people CANNOT handle it.

h. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

i. Alcohol has deceived many people and has captured them… it has promised friends and happiness, but instead, it ruined their lives.

j. And don’t think it can’t happen to a believer. Consider Lot and Noah! They were deceived, mocked, and adversely affected by alcohol.

2. I realize that today, in American Christendom, MOST Christians believe that is ok to drink as long as you don’t get drunk.

a. More and more our view of total abstinence is seen as archaic.

b. They laugh at us and call us legalists.

c. They (in pure ignorance) like to bolster their argument by saying that Jesus drank wine.

d. They like to call us legalists because there is no verse that says “Thou shalt not touch alcohol.” (There are some good reasons for that.)

3. Let’s play a little game with this verse.

a. Solomon is talking about alcohol in this verse.

b. But let’s pretend that he’s NOT talking about alcohol, but about some unknown product. We will call it “X”.

c. Consider what God has just said about “x” in this context:
• Scorners are to be smitten. Punishment is reserved for scorners.
• And in the next breath He said: “X” is a scorner.
• And “X” will deceive you—and you won’t be wise any more. You will be a fool.
• “X” will then laugh you to scorn… mock you… ridicule your folly…
• And “X” will be raging… it will cause turmoil in your life… distress… and perhaps brawling and violence.
• Be honest: does it sound like God is trying to convince you to take “X” or to avoid “X”?

d. If you don’t like the “X” illustration, let’s try a personal approach.
• Just suppose that God came down and warned you face to face that Tom Smith had a plan to deceive you and trick you.
• First he planned to get you to do some foolish things.
• Then he was going to publicly mock and ridicule you for doing them!
• And this would cause great turmoil and distress in your life.
• Once God warned you face to face, don’t you think you would be well advised to stay away from Tom Smith as much as possible?
• You certainly wouldn’t want to hang around with Tom. You wouldn’t want to have him over your house… not if THAT was his plan!
• Well, God HAS warned us about wine and strong drink.

e. Some folks come to a passage like this with their own preconceived ideas about alcohol. They love to drink and therefore try to put a good spin on the bad things the Bible says about alcohol.

f. Others come to a passage like this sincerely wanting to know God’s will. If the heart is honest and open—God’s Word IS clear.