Woe to them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!…
I. THE SIGN OF THE DRUNKARD'S CAPTIVITY. In every vice there is a stage beyond which, humanly speaking, recovery is impossible. A time comes when the jaws of the trap snap together and the victim is caught. In intemperance this point is reached imperceptibly, and the victim is ignorant long after others see his danger.
II. THE HELPLESSNESS OF THE CAPTIVE DRUNKARD. Isaiah describes him as following strong drink. As the obedient dog at his master's heels, or as the moth after the light, so the drunkard follows strong drink. At first he thinks he does so for the pleasure he derives from it, but he soon recognises that he is helpless in so doing. As a man swept down towards the rapids looks longingly towards those on the bank who can render no help, so the drinker yearns after virtues and peace which can never more be his. No tyrant was ever more exacting. Though he be prostrate in the morning, yet he must rise at his captor's bidding, and by forced marches hasten to his doom.
III. THE DOOM THAT AWAITS THE DRUNKARD.
1. Moral insensibility. They regard not the work of the Lord. They call good, evil; and evil, good. Drink so blunts the sensibilities that the victim under its influence can commit crimes from which at other times he would shrink. More crimes are committed "in drink" than out of it.
2. Shamelessness. After obliterating the distinction between right and wrong he turns and defies God and glories in sin. When the prophet warns him that God will visit him, he dares Him to do His worst. "Let Him make speed, and hasten His work, that we may see it."
3. Hell. The drinker tempts the devil, for even hell has to enlarge its appetite to receive him. When the destroyer would be satisfied, the drinker stimulates his satiated desire, determining to be lost. So he ends his course with the drunkard's grave and the drunkard's hell.
(R. C. Ford, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!