|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
23:29-35 Solomon warns against drunkenness. Those that would be kept from sin, must keep from all the beginnings of it, and fear coming within reach of its allurements. Foresee the punishment, what it will at last end in, if repentance prevent not. It makes men quarrel. Drunkards wilfully make woe and sorrow for themselves. It makes men impure and insolent. The tongue grows unruly; the heart utters things contrary to reason, religion, and common civility. It stupifies and besots men. They are in danger of death, of damnation; as much exposed as if they slept upon the top of a mast, yet feel secure. They fear no peril when the terrors of the Lord are before them; they feel no pain when the judgments of God are actually upon them. So lost is a drunkard to virtue and honour, so wretchedly is his conscience seared, that he is not ashamed to say, I will seek it again. With good reason we were bid to stop before the beginning. Who that has common sense would contract a habit, or sell himself to a sin, which tends to such guilt and misery, and exposes a man every day to the danger of dying insensible, and awaking in hell? Wisdom seems in these chapters to take up the discourse as at the beginning of the book. They must be considered as the words of Christ to the sinner.
Verse 34. - As he that lieth down in the midst of the sea. The dazed and unconscious condition of a drunkard is described by one familiar with sea life, as in Psalm 104:25, etc.; Psalms 107:23, etc. The Hebrew has "in the heart of the sea" (Jonah 2:4), i.e. the depth. Many understand the idea to be that the drunkard is compared to a man asleep in a frail boat, or to one slumbering on board a ship sunk in the trough of the sea. But the "lying" here does not imply sleep, but rather immersion. The inebriated person is assimilated to one who is drowned or drowning, who is cut off from all his former pursuits and interests in life, and has become unconscious of surrounding circumstances. This much more exactly represents the case than any notion of sloping amid danger. Septuagint, "Thou shalt lie as in the heart of the sea." Or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast; the extreme point of the sailyard, where no one could lie without the greatest peril of falling off. The drunkard is exposed to dangers of all kinds from being unable to take care of himself, and yet is all the time unconscious of his critical situation. Corn. a Lapide, followed by Plumptre, considers that the cradle, or look out, on the top of the mast is meant, where, if the watchman slept, he would be certain to endanger his life. Vulgate, "like a pilot fallen asleep, who has dropped the tiller," and is therefore on the way to shipwreck. Septuagint, "as a pilot in a great storm."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Yea, thou shall be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea,.... Not in the open sea, and the waves of it, there fluctuating and tossed about; nor in an island encompassed by sea; but in a ship at sea, a drunken man reels and tumbles about, just as a ship does at sea; hence the motions and agitations of it, and of the men in it, are compared to the reeling and staggering of a drunken man, Psalm 107:26;
or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast: where the motion is the greatest. Or all this may be expressive of the dangers which a drunkard is exposed unto, and of his stupidity and insensibility; for though he is in as great danger as one in the circumstances described, in a storm at sea, yet is not sensible of it; which agrees with what follows.
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