Poverty Can Be Caused by Excessive Consumption

Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way. Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and theglutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags. (Prov. 23:19-21)

Young man, this text is addressed to you, “my son.” It is a call to be wise and to walk in God’s way, “be wise and direct [Heb. ashar, “to go (straight), walk”] your heart in the way.” The writer tells the young man to avoid going with drunkards and gluttonous eaters of meat. The reason is that drunkenness and gluttony will lead to “poverty.” Drunkenness and gluttony also makes one lazy and inactive, “slumber.” (TWOT) Thus, the writer here identifies two causes of poverty—drunkenness and gluttony, which lead to laziness, inactivity, and non-productivity.

This is what I call the life of excessive consumption. Live like a drunkard and you will become poor, says the text. Live like a glutton and you will become poor. But excessive consumption can take the form of expensive clothes, shoes, travel, cars, cell phones, houses, etc. (e.g. Imelda Marcos’ shoes; many Filipinos with bigger houses hit by the mortgage crisis in California)

Let’s study the key words here. The word, “drunkards,” is literally translated, “wine-drinkers.” But these are not merely wine-drinkers, but drunkards. Their lives are marked by heavy drinking and wild living.

Do you have a friend who is a drunkard? God’s Word says, young man, do not go with drunkards. Do not spend time with them. Do not follow their drinking lifestyle. For in the end, it leads to poverty.

Another thing to avoid is gluttony, from the Heb. word, zalal. It means, “make light of = be lavish with, squander.” (BDB) It denotes, to make light of something, to the point of squandering it. Thus, the words, “gluttonous eaters of meat,” can be translated, “those making light or squandering of meat.”

Do you know that Yahweh condemned the drunkard and glutton in Israel?

Deut. 21:18-21 says, “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’

Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Have you noticed that stubborn and rebellious sons are usually drunkards, party-goers, and feast-lovers? God links stubbornness and rebellion with drunkenness and gluttony. Clearly, God is against drunkenness and gluttony. Every wine-drunk and gluttonous believer therefore is disobedient to the will of God.

Let us resist the excessively consumerist culture. Rather, follow the self-controlled, purpose-driven, God-honoring lifestyle.


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