Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and howl, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
The prophet now endeavours to awaken certain characters in the nation to an earnest sense of the woe that has overtaken them, and to deep repentance, that it may be averted. His first warning cry is to the drunkard. The evils of intoxication are often intimately connected with national plagues, and require that earnest ministries should be directed against them.
I. THAT THE DRUNKARD IS INSENSIBLE TO THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCERNS OF LIFE, "Awake." The prophet knew that it was the tendency of intoxicating drink to cast men into an unholy slumber, and to render them dangerously insensible to the most important things around them.
1. Intoxicating drink has a tendency to darken the intelligence of man.
2. Intoxicating drink has a tendency to deaden the moral susceptibilities of man. These drunkards of Judah were not merely mentally blind to the calamities which had come upon their country, but were morally incapable of estimating their due social effect.
3. Intoxicating drink has a tendency to destroy the conscience of man. These drunkards of Judah probably did not consider that they were working their own moral degradation, and that they were inviting the retribution of heaven. They imagined that they were enjoying the plenty they possessed, and that they were the happiest of men. The prosperity of fools shall slay them.
II. That the drunkard is exposed to the most abject misery. "And howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth."
1. He is liable to the misery of self-loathing. We can readily imagine that these drunkards of Judah would now and then awake from their sottish slumber, and that in the moment of bodily pain they would be seized with sad thoughts of their own degradation.
2. He is liable to the misery of social con. tempt. Drunkards are the object of social scorn, they are incapable of industrious work, they are injurious to the common good. They prostitute great abilities. They misuse golden opportunities. They place manhood on a level with the brute.
3. They are liable to the misery of unsatisfied appetite. The drunkards of Judah would howl because the new wine was cut off from their mouth. They had abused the gifts of providence, and now they are no longer allowed to enjoy them. Sin brings the wealthiest of sinners to want. Plenty at one time is no guarantee against penury at another. In the next life the appetite which sin has created will be for ever unsatisfied; then the wine will indeed be cut off from the mouth.
III. THAT THE DRUNKARD IS IN IMMEDIATE NEED OF THE MOST EARNEST MINISTRY WHICH CAN BE ADDRESSED TO HIM. We cannot but see in this verse that the prophet addressed the drunkards of Judah in earnest and faithful speech. He called them by their right name. He urged them to thoughtfulness and repentance. There is need that the pulpit of our age should take up his cry. Lessons —
1. That the drunkard is incapable of the qualities necessary for true citizenship.
2. That many national calamities are occasioned by the drunkard.
3. That the most effective ministries of the Church should be directed against this, terrible evil.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.