CSBC Sunday School: Proverbs Series

Lesson #9: Proverbs 23:17-21; 29-35

August 2, 2020

Resources: Phillips; Braddy; MacArthur; McCrary, B. Jennings, Explore the Bible

HOOK: (Why should we listen to this lesson?)





  • FOCUS ATTENTION:   Alcoholism and drug abuse have made major impacts on American society and the world.  There are hardly any families or communities that have not been disrupted by their destructive influences.  IS THERE ANYONE HERE TODAY THAT HAS NEVER BEEN PERSONALLY AFFECTED BY A FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WHO HAS STRUGGLED WITH ALCOHOLISM OR DRUG ADDICTION?  These days it’s a rare thing to meet someone who has never been touched by these vices.  But in our society, lives have been destroyed, marriages ruined, families wounded, and communities disrupted because of their destructive influences.  Some of us worry about our children or grandchildren falling into the grip of these devastating sins.  Others worry that someone we love will never be set free from his or her addiction.
  • CONTEXT: From 22:17—24:22, Solomon arranged a group of Proverbs that have sometimes been referred to by modern theologians, as Thirty Pearls of God’s Wisdom.  In Prov. 22:17-21, Solomon underscored the need to pay close attention to the wisdom of these 30 proverbs.  The first ten proverbs offered God’s wisdom about wealth and power (22:22—23:11).  God would hold people accountable who try to gain wealth by robbing from the poor or taking advantage of the helpless.  The instruction that parents give to their children comes into view in the next seven proverbs (23:12-28).  Parents who teach their children to live according to God’s wisdom can anticipate the kids will grow up and strive to do what’s right.  The final thirteen proverbs of this section do not necessarily deal with just one theme but God offers WISDOM on several important issues (23:29 – 24:22).  The issue of alcoholism gets serious consideration.  God also warns His readers to avoid evil people and the influence they will have on unsuspecting victims if they follow the lead of their schemes and evil intentions.  A godly person builds a life that makes wise choices and has discerning relationships that will endure difficulties and eschew sinful practices.


  • Let’s Explore the Bible in Proverbs 23:17-21; 29-35.

BOOK:  (What does the Bible say?)

PRINCIPLE #1 – THE PROMISE!  (Prov. 23:17-18)

  • Verse 17 of our text reflects the paralyzing fear that overcomes parents from time to time when they realize their adolescent children are going to make their own choices. Even though we may have done our best in raising them in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” ( 6:4), and we desire that they walk in God’s Wisdom, they come to a point where their influences are beyond our control.  WHAT DOES THE FIRST PART OF VERSE 17 INSTRUCT US?  Well, it warns our children to never look at the corrupt, wicked, evil, lifestyles of sinners and ENVY them.  They must guard their “hearts” to make sure they are not tempted to turn away from the path of godly wisdom.  The foolish people who would seek to influence them away from God have a sure, destructive end.  Never envy their ungodly ways that will lead to disaster.  That is why children should heed the advice, “but be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (vs. 17b).  So parents warn your kids of the disastrous effect that secret envy of sinful behavior can have on us.
  • Verse 18 reminds our children of the PROMISE associated with living in the fear of the Lord. If our sons and daughters will follow His path of wisdom, and trust God with their future, Solomon promises “surely there is an end” ( 18a), which is good and will fulfill all their “expectation” (vs. 18b).  This promise gives us HOPE in the Lord.  Hope is much more than wishful thinking although that’s what a lot of people believe.  Hope is extreme confidence in God.  Hope in Him will never be dashed.  So children, never envy the sinners, but rather fear the Lord and He will guide you to a fulfilling life.

PRINCIPLE #2 – THE PETITION!  (Prov. 23:19-21)

  • IN VERSE 19 WHAT ARE THE 3 IMPERATIVES STATED? HEAR!  Listen my son to the important instruction that follows.  Don’t disregard what those who are older are telling you.  There is much value in learning from the experience of those who have lived longer than you have.  2. BE WISE!  This may seem like an obvious statement that has been said over and over in Proverbs.  So many people ask the question, “What is allowed?” rather than the better question, “What is the wise thing to do?”  Shoot for wisdom.  3. GUIDE YOUR HEART!  Our world says “Follow your heart.”  But we know from the Bible a man’s heart is desperately wicked and we can’t possibly know its depravity.  But God searches our hearts (Jer. 17:9-10).  So we need God to transform our hearts through salvation, then we can follow the order to, “guide thine heart” and God will direct us in “the way” (vs. 19b).
  • Verses 20-21 caution us regarding two human vices. WHAT ARE THEY AND WHAT DO THESE VERSES WARN US ABOUT THEM?   Solomon warns his son to not hang out with “winebibbers” ( 20), and “the drunkard” (vs. 21).  This is an appeal for him to avoid those who are given over to alcohol and who have lost control of their senses because of its influence.  Avoid people who are addicted to and controlled by alcohol.  The other vice addressed by Solomon is those who are “riotous eaters of flesh” (vs. 20), and “the glutton” (vs. 21).  God warned His children not to be like the pagan cultures that surrounded them.  Many have concluded the reason God gave the dietary laws was largely to make sure His children did not behave gluttonously as the heathen did.  They practiced festivities around the gorging of food, usually accompanied by immorality and idolatry.  Stay away from those kinds of behavior; guide your heart.  In vs. 21, Solomon describes the glutton and the drunkard’s end.  They “shall come to poverty; and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.”  So beware and be wise around these vices.  Here is a list of what the Bible says about gluttony and alcohol:  1. Warnings against gluttony: (Prov. 23:1-3; 20-21; 28:7).  2. Warnings against alcohol: (Prov. 23:29-35; 1 Cor. 5:11; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:18).  3. The physical effects of alcohol: (Job 12:25; Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35).  4. The mental effects of alcohol: Hosea 4:115. The spiritual effects of alcohol (it deadens one’s self to God): Isa. 5:11-12).  6. Cases of drunkenness in the Bible: Noah (Gen. 9:21); Lot (Gen. 19:33); Nabal (1 Sam. 25:36); Uriah the Hittite (2 Sam. 11:13); Elah, king of Israel (1 Kings 16:9); Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria (1 Kings 20:16).  7. The alternative to drunkenness: Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).


PRINCIPLE #3 – THE PORTRAIT!  (Prov. 23:29-32)

  • The next series of verses bring to our discussion what can be a controversial topic that must be understood in the context of the overall teaching of the Scriptures. Solomon continued to warn his son about the danger of drunkenness.  He used a series of six questions to identify the problematic behavior of someone who had become addicted to alcohol ( 29).  By using the series of questions, he painted a pitiful portrait of addition.  Read vs. 29 to observe the 6 questions.  HAVE YOU EVER KNOWN SOMEONE WHO WAS ADDICTED TO ALCOHOL?  Don’t these verses resonate with you about some of their consequences (vs. 30-31)?  What’s the best way to avoid drug abuse or alcoholism?  The answer to that question is given in a straightforward manner.  “Look not” into the glass or at the bottle of pills (vs. 31).  The temptation begins with a glance that gives way to another look, and then another.  If you never take that first drink you will never become an alcoholic!  Sin has an enticement but remember there are always consequences for our choices.  At the beginning of the journey of addiction, alcohol seems to have exactly what a person wants; escape from reality.  TO WHAT DOES VERSE 32 COMPARE THE RESULTS OF ALCOHOL?  Well, the bite of a serpent (a viper), or an adder was often deadly.  These were venomous snakes that paralyzed their prey by injecting them with toxins that were designed to kill.  That’s like what happens with a person addicted to wine or strong drink.  Their doom is sure!

PRINCIPLE #4 – THE PROBLEM!  (Prov. 23:33-35)


  • Drug abuse and alcoholism present serious problems for addicts as well as for the people who love them. The depth of these vices will often lead people into confusion, irrationality, and strange behavior.  It starts with their “eyes” ( 33).  But then it affects their hearts too.  They don’t even realize they, “utter perverse things” (vs. 33) that normally would never come out of their mouths.  Picture yourself trying to go to sleep while your ship is in the midst of a violent storm in the sea.  Or try to grasp the dilemma of climbing the ships “mast” (the pole that holds up the sails) (vs. 34), in the middle of that storm, and laying down there.  It’s inconceivable and it would probably be terrifying.  For anyone who’s drinking heavily or abusing drugs, that’s how it feels to them even though they’re at home lying safely in their beds.  According to vs. 35, only one problem would be on the mind of a person suffering from addiction.  Being struck or even being beaten would not be a matter of concern.  They didn’t feel it.  Their pressing problem has to do with getting another drink.  That need alone would prompt someone who’s drunk to wake up from the stupor brought on by the alcohol and immediately desire to search for another drink (vs. 35).  That’s the depth of control alcohol and abusive substances can have on a pitiful individual.  True deliverance doesn’t come from self-help books or a 12 step program devoid of God.  Victory over such control can only come by the power of the Holy Spirit to a life that is ready to surrender totally to Him!

LOOK:  (Why is what it says important?)


  • Don’t give your body over to the control of anyone or anything except God. Read 1 Cor. 6:19-20 distinctly for the New Testament summary of these principles.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs at all costs. Don’t even look upon them.  Don’t take the first step in their direction.  If you are going to let anybody or anything have dominion over you, let it be the Holy Spirit of God and nothing else ( 5:18).

TOOK:  (Why is it important to me?  What should I do with it?)

EvaluationThis week pray for someone who is in the vortex of the grip of alcohol or drugs.  They can’t think properly and they often make terrible decisions that have them on a path of doom.  Pray that God will come into their lives and they will accept His salvation and the grace to have victory over their ungodly vices.  Pray that you will be an encouragement for them to know God!

In preparation for our next Bible Study please read Proverbs 29:1-3; 12-20.



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