Scripture: 5 Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. 6 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Observations: Likely what is most important here is the lesson from Genesis and Noah – that drinking is not a bad thing, but drunkenness (mentioned in Verse 4) causes us to sin in horrible ways, forgetting the law, and perverting our own judgment. Baha’is don’t drink as they believe in moderation, but when drinking, one’s idea of moderation becomes skewed, so it is better not to start. I think Verse 6 might actually be more along the lines of our modern-day palliative care for those who are terminal – helping to make someone comfortable as they wait to die – and wine should hopefully not contain enough alcohol to make one drunk, but would have a more soporific effect on someone who mostly needs to sleep and wake up to a new day. Although on that latter point, I’d probably give someone beer because of the soporific effects of hops.
Applications: Personally, I don’t like the taste of alcohol, but I think that even if I did, I don’t like the concept of losing control of myself to the extent that I am not acting at full capacity. Same thing goes with drugs. The advice of Lemuel’s mother here is that a man should be in control of himself, so that he may not sin against God or man. There is a time and place for alcohol – and those times and places are very limited.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the excellent examples you provide to us, to help teach us right and wrong. May we respect ourselves enough to know that alcohol or other mind-altering substances affect our judgment and cause us to make poor choices. May you guide us to make good choices that will honor your laws.