Proverbs 23:31-35

Look Not Upon the Wine


1. This chapter has much to say about the use of alcohol.

2. In verse 20, Solomon warns against keeping company with those who are winebibbers and gluttons. (Why? It results in laziness and poverty.)

3. In verses 29-30, Solomon continued his warnings against alcohol with six questions and one answer.

4. Now we want to look at one command concerning alcohol, and five reasons.

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


1. LOOK defined:

a. To look at; to observe; to pay attention to; to gaze at.

b. To look at with pleasure; to find delight in.

c. To experience something (Cf. Jer. 20:18 – “Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” (The meaning here is to experience labor and sorrow. It is used several times in Jeremiah with that meaning.)

2. The command is pretty simple: Don’t look at wine; don’t gaze at it longingly wishing you could have some; don’t look at it with pleasure; don’t experience it.

3. The particular situation: When the wine is red and gives its color in the cup; when it moveth itself aright.

a. This speaks of the alluring temptation of wine.

b. The author is speaking about the attractive color of wine; its bouquet or appealing smell; the way it swirls in the glass.

c. Have you ever seen a connoisseur of fine wine smell the wine and swirl it in the cup? They are judging the quality of the wine… its appeal… the way it looks, tastes, smells, and moves in the cup.

d. In other words, Solomon is telling his sons (and his readers) that they should not experience this temptation. Don’t put yourself through this, for you might fall victim. It is VERY appealing.

e. Don’t gaze at the wine longingly, wishing you had some.

f. Don’t be drawn to its alluring color, smell, and the appealing way it moves in the cup.

g. Remember, Eve’s sin in the Garden began by LOOKING at the forbidden fruit.

h. Gen. 3:6 – “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat.”

i. This is what Solomon is forbidding here: Don’t LOOK at the wine because you will discover its appeal. It will seem like a GOOD drink. It will be PLEASANT—an alluring smell. It will then be DESIRED. And the final step is, you will TAKE some.

j. The way to avoid TAKING wine is to avoid LOOKING at it. Don’t gaze upon it longingly. Don’t allow yourself to be brought under its alluring power.

k. Look not upon the wine = don’t be ruled by your senses and feelings (taste, appearance, smell, etc.)

l. We are to not to walk by sight, or smell, or taste. We walk by faith – a faith that rests upon the Word of God.

4. Of course, there will be always those who seek to justify drinking alcohol.

a. They will argue here, “But Solomon doesn’t say don’t drink it. He just says don’t look at it! Don’t be tempted by it.”

b. To those folks I would say, “Go ahead and drink it. You aren’t really interested in truth or God’s mind on this matter.”

c. Example: Sign at the Kennedy compound: “Don’t even think of parking here.”
• It didn’t actually say don’t park here. It just said don’t think about it. So I can park there as long as I don’t think about it right?
• What silly reasoning. It is obvious and apparent what the will of the owner was.
• You really have to parse to the point of twisting meanings to think he really wanted you to park there.

d. You have to parse to the point of twisting Scripture to miss the point in this passage too. God says, “Don’t even LOOK at wine in the cup!”

e. You don’t have to be a brilliant theologian to understand the meaning here. All you have to be is honest.

f. The command is clear: don’t look at it. This is followed by five reasons WHY you should not LOOK at it.
• Interestingly, the reasons given for not LOOKING imply that if you DO look, that you will take.
• If you look, you will see that it seems good, pleasant, desirable, appealing, and you will succumb to the temptation and take it.
• Thus, the reasons for not LOOKING have to do with what happens when you TAKE it… for if you look, you are likely to take.
• That’s the assumption here.


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

1. This speaks of the consequences of not taking heed to Solomon’s command.

2. What a contrast:

a. The wine is so appealing, so alluring, it seems so good and pleasant and desirable.

b. The ends up biting like a poisonous snake and stinging like a serpent.

c. In other words, what seems to be so appealing up front is anything BUT appealing and pleasant in the end.

3. “At the last”

a. This is an important expression with respect to the subject of temptation and sin.

b. It is important because many different kinds of sins are different in the END than they seem in the beginning.

c. Prov. 5:3-4 – The immoral woman seems so sweet and appealing during the temptation, but is entirely different in the end… after the sin has been committed.

d. Prov. 25:8 – In the beginning of an argument or fight, it feels really good to push, shove, and shoot off your mouth. But the end does not feel so good.

e. The book of Hebrews tells us that there is an initial pleasure to sin. But it never ENDS in pleasure.

f. The initial pleasure is short lived, but the consequences can seem to last forever.

g. The point is, consider the END before you even begin to head down that road! Considering the END will cause a wise man to choose to stay away in the first place.

h. Prov. 16:28 – “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (It seems right; it feels right—but that doesn’t make it right.)

33a Thine eyes shall behold strange women

1. The expression “strange woman” is translated from ONE Hebrew word.

a. It simply means “strange.” Obviously, something needs to be filled in here for it to make sense in English.

b. Most translations fill in the word “things” instead of women.
• Of course it would not be wrong to use the word “things” here—for that is generic enough to cover anything!
• The meaning then would be that alcohol causes you to see strange things—like hallucinations—pink elephants, etc.
• That is a possible meaning.

c. But the KJV translators chose to translate it “strange women.”
• This is a more specific translation—some might even say an interpretation.
• But I think they had good reason behind their translation.
• In Prov. 22:14, Solomon just used this same word to describe the harlot, the immoral woman. There it is translated “strange woman” and it is obvious that that is the true meaning.
• Prov. 23:27 – Also, IMMEDIATELY before the discussion on alcohol, Solomon mentioned the strange or immoral woman.
• Also, in 23:33, it is clear that Solomon is warning about SIN (perverse or immoral things in the heart that are uttered).
• I think the KJV has it just right here.

2. Thus, the warning here is that alcohol causes a person’s fleshly nature to be uninhibited – which means that it can stir up sinful behavior and sexual promiscuity: wine, women, and song!

a. For centuries men have used wine and alcohol to cause a young woman to lose her inhibitions and impair her judgment so that she will agree to immorality… to cause her to agree to do something that normally she would NOT do.

b. Noah stood strong and opposed the whole world! But later he got drunk and lewd behavior followed. This was quite unexpected of Noah, one of the heroes of the faith!

c. Lot’s daughters knew that their father would never agree to their immoral plan to preserve their seed and sleep with them, so they got him drunk—and Lot did what he never would have done otherwise.

d. Gen. 19:35 – “And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose.”
• He didn’t know what he was doing. He was not in his right mind.
• Once he had the alcohol in him, he had no control over what he was doing.
• But he DID have control over whether to drink it in the first place.

e. Alcohol has been the date rape drug of choice for centuries. It is used by men to lure women into sexual sin without their knowledge.

f. “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

g. Alcohol causes us to lose control right away. The fruit of the Spirit is self control (temperance). Alcohol produces the opposite. A word to the wise should be enough.

33b And thine heart shall utter perverse things.

1. Note the effect that alcohol has on the heart… the inner man.

2. It causes the heart to utter perverse things.

a. Perverse things refers to that which is twisted, immoral. The term is often translated “froward.”

b. Prov. 16:28 – “A froward man soweth strife.”

c. Prov. 8:13 – The fear of the LORD is to hate evil… and the froward mouth, do I hate.

d. Froward here is the same term translated “perverse.”

e. God hates every manifestation of it—whether it resides in the heart or comes out of the mouth.

3. Note that God hates this “perversity” and alcohol produces it!

a. That should tell us something—for those who have ears to hear.

b. If you don’t really want to hear, then no argument from the Scriptures will be convincing… not if your mind is already made up.

4. The word “utter” has two meanings.

a. It usually means to speak.

b. It also is used in an almost figurative way, of internal speaking.

c. Ecc. 2:15 – “Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.”

d. This is how Solomon uses the term in Proverbs 23:33.

5. Alcohol produces a perverse, immoral imagination and evil thoughts. Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.”

a. Alcohol releases a person from his normal, healthy inhibitions and impairs his ability to think clearly.

b. II Cor. 10:5 – “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

c. Since we are commanded to submit EVERY thought to the obedience of Christ, why would a Christian ever drink something that causes him to do the very opposite?

d. If I gave you a pill and told you that it causes you to think evil thoughts, would you take it? Well, you have been warned. That is what alcohol does. God says so.

e. Alcohol releases us from healthy inhibitions, and causes us to think and do things we would never otherwise do.

f. Unfortunately, alcohol does NOT release a person from the consequences of poor reasoning and bad choices.

g. That’s why drunks so often get in fights—because they think, say, and do things that get other people angry.

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. 35a-c 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?

It Will Make You Sick

34d I will seek it yet again.

It Will Become Addictive

F. Conclusions

1. Solomon did not beat around the bush in describing alcohol. No one should ever read this chapter and wonder what he thought about it!

a. Vs. 20 – Don’t associate with winebibbers.

b. Vs. 29 – It produces woe, contentions, babblings, wounds, bloodshot eyes.

c. Vs. 31 – Don’t even look at it!

d. Vs. 32 – It is appealing, but in the end, it bites like a poisonous snake.

e. Vs. 33 – It causes you to lust after immoral women and causes you to utter perverse things.

f. Next week we will look at two more results: it makes you sick and it is addicting.

2. It never ceases to amaze me how many believers CLAIM that the Bible does not forbid alcohol, and that it is a matter of liberty and choice.

3. However, it really doesn’t matter what people believe, even what many Christians believe. The only thing that ultimately matters is what the Bible SAYS. Everything else is irrelevant… a smokescreen… an excuse… or a cloak for maliciousness.