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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: F.E. Marsh :: Readings 351-400 (Seven - The Cries)

F.E. Marsh :: 386. Strong Drink

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ISAIAH 5:11-14

THERE are seven things which are said in relation to “strong drink” and the man who swallows it.

  1. Strong drink fascinates. Strong drink is the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night that the man follows who is under its spell. As when one is fascinated by a deadly serpent and is spell-bound to destruction, so those who are under the attraction of the demon drink find themselves enchanted to their destruction.
  2. Strong drink inflames. “Till wine inflame them” (Isa. 5:11). As a fever will inflame the body, causing the pulse to throb with unnatural rapidity, and the temperature to rise till it seems that the body will be consumed, so the drink will create a burning which eats out the very life of its victim.
  3. Strong drink obliterates. “They regard not” (Isa. 5:12). As the continual use of a coin will in time efface the image of the sovereign upon it, so drink dulls and deadens the sensibility of the soul, till it becomes utterly indifferent to the claims and Being of God, and obliterates all desire for Him.
  4. Strong drink dissipates. “Neither consider the operation of His hands” (Isa. 5:12). As the sharp instrument plunged into the eye destroys the sight, so the drink eats away the optic nerve of the man’s inner nature till he cannot see the work and the working of God.
  5. Strong drink captivates. “Therefore My people are gone into captivity” (Isa. 5:13). As the spider will coil its web round the struggling fly till it has it completely in its power, so the drink will bind its victim till he is mastered, and the man is a helpless slave. Colonel Gardiner relates, that when he was considered by his military companions to be one of the most handsome and highly favoured of his day, he has seen a dog enter the mess-room, prowling for food, and looked at the creature with envy, inwardly groaning and exclaiming, “Oh that I were that dog.” Many a helpless slave of drink has had a similar desire.
  6. Strong drink enervates. “Their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst” (Isa. 5:13). Instead of plenty there is famine. Instead of satisfaction there is thirst. As consumption wastes the sufferer till he becomes enervated, so drink spoils the powers of the drinker. The mind becomes enfeebled, the brain becomes muddled, the body becomes weak, the hand becomes shaky, the face becomes bleared, the home becomes wretched, and the pocket becomes empty. Adams well says, “The drunkard drowns all his substance at the ale-house, and though he devours much is the leaner every way. Drunkenness is a costly sin. It is like gunpowder-many a man is blown up by it. He throws his house so long out at windows till at last his house throws him out of doors.”
  7. Strong drink compensates. As the farmer expects to reap the same kind of corn that he sows, and more than he sows; so the drunkard shall reap what he sows (Gal. 6:8), and more than he sows (Isa. 5:14). Baxter says, “Oh, what a sight it is to see a man go merry and laughing to damnation, and make a jest of his own undoing, to see him at the brink of hell and will not believe it, like a madman boasting of his wit, or a drunken man boasting of his sobriety, or as the swine is delighted when the butcher is shaving his throat to cut it, or as the fatted lambs are skipping in their pasture that to-morrow must be killed and eaten, or as the bird sits singing when the gun is levelled to kill him, or as the greedy fish run, striving which shall catch the bait, that must presently be snatched out of their element and lie dying on the bank.”

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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