“It is not for kings, O Lemuel, It is not for kings to drink wine, Nor for princes intoxicating drink; Lest they drink and forget the law, And pervert the justice of all the afflicted.”
Confusion Surrounding Alcohol:
There is a huge debate that is going on within the Christian community surrounding the use of alcohol. On one side are those who say that Christians should never drink alcohol, period. They like to quote Scriptures like Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler, And whoever is led astray by it is not wise” and Ephesians 5:18: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.” They preach that all alcohol use is evil and sinful.
On the other side are those who say that it’s okay for Christians to drink as long as they do so in moderation. They quote Scriptures like Psalm 104:14-15: “He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the service of man, That he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine that makes glad the heart of man” and talk about how Jesus drank wine, and turned water into wine at a wedding (John 2:1-11).
(Then of course there are the liberals who say: “We’re under grace, not law, so Christians can eat, drink, be merry, and get drunk if they want to!” But they’re idiots, so we won’t consider their claims here).
What Does the Bible Say?
Although the Bible is abundantly clear that drunkenness is a sin, and that it can ruin your life (see Proverbs 23:29-35 and Isaiah 5:11), there are no Scriptures that explicitly forbid the consumption of alcohol in moderation. However, it does have a lot to say to leaders and their use of alcohol.
- The Apostle Paul said that those who are called to be leaders in the church must not be given to much wine, or not heavy drinkers (1 Timothy 3:8).
- In Leviticus, the Bible says that those who are called to the priesthood must not drink wine or intoxicating drink (10:8-10).
In today’s Proverb, there is a warning against kings or princes drinking wine or strong (alcoholic) drinks. The reason given for this warning is that if they drink alcohol, then they will forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Or, as Eugene Peterson says, “they don’t know right from wrong, and the people who depend on them are hurt.” (Message). Simply put, a leader who drinks alcohol will not be able to lead well.
The Leadership Challenge:
The challenge then to leaders is this: Although under the new covenant of grace, all things may be lawful for us, but not all things are beneficial. And if you are called to be a leader, alcohol will impair your ability to lead well. So, to be a good steward of your leadership gifting and calling, make a decision to say no to alcohol, and be the best leader you can be!