Strong drinks (Prov 31:4-31:7)

“It is not for kings.

O Lemuel!

It is not for kings to drink wine.

Rulers should not desire strong drink.

Otherwise if they drink,

They will forget what has been decreed.

They will pervert the rights of all the afflicted.

Give strong drink to him who is perishing!

Give wine to those in bitter distress!

Let them drink!

Let them forget their poverty!

Let them remember their misery no more!”

Now we have a warning against strong drink or alcohol, which was a common prohibition among the ancient and current Arabic countries. The king should not drink wine or strong drinks because he would forget what he had decreed. He might end up perverting the rights of all the afflicted. Even in this prohibition against strong drink, there was a sense of social justice in that the king might forget about his subjects and their afflictions. However, in a strange turn of events, it was okay to give strong drink to those who were dying. My father, who was dying of throat cancer, decided to drink alcohol rather than take drugs. Anyone in great distress could have a strong drink. They were allowed to drink because it would help them forget their poverty and misery. Strong drink was allowed for the dying, the poor, and the miserable, but not for a king.

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