Isaiah 28:1-4, 7, 8
Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower…
The allusion here is to the prevalent baneful vice of intemperance. The evils which are connected with it, and which constitute its condemnation, are such as belong to other kinds of excess, but especially and emphatically to it.
I. HONOR IS HUMILIATED BY IT. "The crown of pride is trodden under feet" (vers. 1, 3). The proud city, which was, alas! a city given up to drunkenness, should be brought down to the very dust. Intemperance causes the man who has held the highest position to become despised by every neighbor that has the common virtue of sobriety; it takes the crown of honor from the brow; it humbles even to the ground the pitiable victims of vice.
II. BEAUTY IS SPOILED BY IT. Its "glorious beauty becomes a faded flower" (vers. 1, 4). Excess is found, not only in the vulgar, in the illiterate, in the uncomely, but also in the refined, in the accomplished, in the beautiful, of the sons and daughters of men. When it is found there it soon does its fatal work. The beautiful is soon gone both from the form and from the spirit; the green leaf withers, the exquisite bloom fades. From that which once attracted every eye, all men turn away grieved, if not positively repelled.
III. STRENGTH IS SAPPED BY IT. "Overcome with wine" (ver. 1). The man whose strength is composed of so many elements - material, mental, spiritual - is positively beaten, overcome, made helpless, useless, ludicrous, despicable, by a few glasses of liquor! It is a painful, shameful instance of strength being mastered by that which it ought to be able to subdue.
IV. WISDOM IS MISLED BY IT. "They have erred through wine... are out of the way... they err in vision, they stumble in judgment" (ver. 7). They who, if their faculties were unclouded, would perceive truth, and have spiritual insight, and gain the guidance which Heaven grants to them that seek it, are so weakened in mental power, or so bereft of spiritual strength, that they grope in darkness when they might walk in the light of the Lord.
V. INFLUENCE IS FORFEITED BY IT. "The priest and the prophet have erred." Even those who, but for guilty excess, might have led the people in every good way, are caught in the toils, are numbered among the victims, and their power is gone, their influence is forfeited. A drunken prophet is one whom all unite to spurn, and his word is worth less than nothing to the cause he pleads.
VI. IT LEADS ON AND DOWN TO THAT WHICH IS LOATHSOME. (Ver. 8.)
VII. IT CONSUMES ITS CONSUMER. (Vers. 4, 7.) Man may say that they swallow their wine, but it is truer to say of many that their wine "swallows" them; for it devours their substance, their character, their reputation, their prospects. Everything is "eaten up" like the "hasty fruit before the summer," speedily and utterly.
VIII. GOD IS DECIDEDLY AND EMPHATICALLY AGAINST IT. (Ver. 2.) He has pronounced against it in strong terms, and he brings down a heavy hand upon it; the enemy which he calls against those guilty of excess is "a mighty and strong one:" poverty, shame, remorse, loneliness, early death, and final exclusion from his presence (1 Corinthians 6:10). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine!