They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it. There is, at first, a carnal pleasure in self-indulgence, in lust of eating and drinking, and in sensuality. But, sooner or later, God takes the song out of it. This must ever be the distress of mere appetite - it can excite, it can make ever-increasing demands, but it cannot satisfy. To indulge mere appetite and passion is to "spend money for that which is not bread, and... labor for that which satisfieth not." The young do not believe this; the old man knows it, and he says, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment!" and that judgment comes either in early death, or in bitterness and woe if life, is long spared. Sir W. Raleigh on this ground solemnly warns his son: "Take special care that thou delight not in wine; for there never was any man that came to honor and preferment that loved it; for it transformeth a man into a beast, decayeth health, poisoneth the breath, destroyeth natural heat, brings a man's stomach to an artificial heat, deformeth the face, rotteth the teeth, and, to conclude, maketh a man contemptible, soon old, and despised of all wise and worthy men." And Matthew Henry says, "God has many ways to embitter wine and strong drink to those that love them and have the highest gust of them - distemper of body, anguish of mind; the ruin of the estate or country will make the strong drink bitter, and all the delights of sense tasteless and insipid." The distress of the men of pampered appetites comes in one or the other of the two following forms.
I. ABUNDANCE IS PRESENTED, BUT THE POWER TO ENJOY IS GONE. For appetite and passion wear out, after they have fixed in the soul a dull and dreadful craving that gives a man no rest. Late in life circumstances often give the money, the time, the positions which are essential to self-indulgence, and the man is in the midst of this unspeakable misery - that he is physically unable to enjoy. This is God's bitter punishment of sensuality in this life.
II., APPETITE BECOMES RAVENOUS, AND THERE IS NOTHING TO FEED IT ON. Or it slips away, always just out of reach, as the water to Tantalus. Every act of self-indulgence has a tendency to repeat itself. You cannot stop with once. But as the act is repeated it becomes more intense, it wants more force. The desire grows until it gets beyond a man, and nothing on earth can satisfy. Then Providence places a man in some captivity, like these pampered Jews, where there is the unspeakable misery of immense passion for sensual enjoyment and nothing to enjoy. These are the two features of God's hell upon earth. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: They shall not drink wine with a song; strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.