20:1 Wine is a mocker and strong drink is a brawler;
whoever goes astray by them is not wise.

‘Some have tried to argue that Proverbs 20:1 is only a caution against drunkenness. However, this is not an accurate interpretation. In fact, the verse says nothing about drunkenness. The Bible does not say that wine mocks people who get drunk. It does not say that only people who get drunk are deceived. It says that wine is a mocker. Alcoholic wine is intrinsically a mocker. Alcoholic wine is raging in its very essence. Anyone who argues against these characteristics of alcohol is deceived and unwise.’  (Sinclair, Ben. Should Christians Drink Wine and Alcohol? Kindle Edition).  The over-literal nature of this interpretation is apparent when we consider that wine is placed in the same kind of category as ‘strong drink’, which certainly is alcoholic.  Moreover, the interpretation overlooks the overtly poetic nature of the proverb (in which wine and strong are both given ‘personal’ characteristics – one is a ‘mocker’ and the other is a ‘brawler’).

20:2 The king’s terrifying anger is like the roar of a lion;
whoever provokes him sins against himself.
20:3 It is an honor for a person to cease from strife,
but every fool quarrels.
20:4 The sluggard will not plow during the planting season,
so at harvest time he looks for the crop but has nothing.
20:5 Counsel in a person’s heart is like deep water,
but an understanding person draws it out.
20:6 Many people profess their loyalty,
but a faithful person—who can find?
20:7 The righteous person behaves in integrity;
blessed are his children after him.
20:8 A king sitting on the throne to judge
separates out all evil with his eyes.
20:9 Who can say, “I have kept my heart clean;
I am pure from my sin”?
20:10 Diverse weights and diverse measures—
the LORD abhors both of them.
20:11 Even a young man is known by his actions,
whether his activity is pure and whether it is right.
20:12 The ear that hears and the eye that sees—
the LORD has made them both.
20:13 Do not love sleep, lest you become impoverished;
open your eyes so that you might be satisfied with food.
20:14 “It’s worthless! It’s worthless!” says the buyer,
but when he goes on his way, he boasts.
20:15 There is gold, and an abundance of rubies,
but words of knowledge are like a precious jewel.
20:16 Take a man’s garment when he has given security for a stranger,
and when he gives surety for strangers, hold him in pledge.
20:17 Bread gained by deceit tastes sweet to a person,
but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.
20:18 Plans are established by counsel,
so make war with guidance.
20:19 The one who goes about gossiping reveals secrets;
therefore do not associate with someone who is always opening his mouth.
20:20 The one who curses his father and his mother,
his lamp will be extinguished in the blackest darkness.
20:21 An inheritance gained easily in the beginning
will not be blessed in the end.
20:22 Do not say, “I will pay back evil!”
Wait for the LORD, so that he may vindicate you.
20:23 The LORD abhors differing weights,
and dishonest scales are wicked.
20:24 The steps of a person are ordained by the LORD—
so how can anyone understand his own way?
20:25 It is a snare for a person to rashly cry, “Holy!”
and only afterward to consider what he has vowed.
20:26 A wise king separates out the wicked;
he turns the threshing wheel over them.
20:27 The human spirit is like the lamp of the LORD,
searching all his innermost parts.
20:28 Loyal love and truth preserve a king,
and his throne is upheld by loyal love.
20:29 The glory of young men is their strength,
and the splendor of old men is gray hair.
20:30 Beatings and wounds cleanse away evil,
and floggings cleanse the innermost being.