What Does Proverbs 23:21 Mean?

For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty, And drowsiness will clothe one with rags.

Proverbs 23:21(NASB)
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Verse Thoughts

There are many teachings and wise sayings to be found throughout the book of Proverbs. They touch on a wide range of subjects from righteousness to wickedness, from life to death, from success to failure, from integrity to dishonesty – and so on.

Here in this verse, we touch on the dangers on drunkenness, gluttony, and sloth – and by default announce the benefits of sobriety, self-restraint, and hard-work.

Both a excess of food and strong drink is identified in this verse as a path to poverty and destitution. It not only has a serious effect on a man's health and mobility, but is often the cause of a ruined relationship, the breakup of a marriage, distress in the family, the loss of a job, or the trigger for ungodly acts or criminal activities.

An over-indulgence in either food or drink does not glorify our Heavenly Father and is often the precursor to a failed ministry and fruitless life – and there is also the strong possibility that it will contribute to early death. No wonder the writer of Proverbs warns, "For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty – and drowsiness will clothe one with rags."

Not only is excessive eating and drinking identified as destructive, but so is laziness or slothfulness. In chapter 34 we read: "A little sleep, a little slumber. A little folding of the hands to rest – then your poverty will come to you as a robber and your want will be like an armed man."

There is no mistake that lack of discipline in one's eating and drinking habits or the temptation to remain long hours in one's bed in preference to rising early and facing the challenges of the day, all have a notably negative effect on one's productivity, which can adversely affect many different areas of life and be the contributing factor to poverty and pain.

As Church-age believers, we are not under any strict rules or regulations that dictate what we can or cannot eat or drink, and although we have no chiming bell to summons us to rise up in the morning at a specified time nor are we summoned to pray at a certain place for a certain period of time each day, we do have a responsibility to live godly lives and to take heed to all the wisdom of the wise that is contained in the God's holy Word.

Although we are not under any legalistic requirements but under grace, that does not exclude the Christian from acting wisely in every aspect of life and living. Paul informs us that "all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful – including eating, drinking, and sleeping – but not all things edify."

May we be pleased to conduct every area of our lives in a manner that honours our God and Saviour. May we be disciplined in our behaviour, without becoming legalistic in our attitude or critical of others so that our lives are both fruitful for the Lord and become an example to others of a life that is lived for the glory of God. 

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the wisdom that is found in the book of Proverbs. I pray that I may live my life soberly, discretely, and in the fear of God in all I say and do, both in my actions and my attitude. May all that I do be carried out for Your greater honour and glory, and may my life become a living testimony of a Christ-like life. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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