Proverbs 23:31

ESV Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly.
NIV Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!
NASB Do not look at wine when it is red, When it sparkles in the cup, When it goes down smoothly;
CSB Don't gaze at wine because it is red, because it gleams in the cup and goes down smoothly.
NLT Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down.
KJV Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

What does Proverbs 23:31 mean?

This continues the Bible's most detailed warning about the dangers of drunkenness. Prior verses detailed how excessive drinking leads to problems (Proverbs 23:29–30). Other Scriptures contain warnings and cautionary tales about those who become drunk (Proverbs 20:1; Genesis 19:30–38; Judges 16:25–30; Ephesians 5:18). Wine and other intoxicants are alluring, but this passage advises a person to avoid being tempted by them.

To avoid those harms, Solomon uses the symbolism of the eyes, telling the reader to not even look at such substances. Both in metaphor and reality, the "eyes" indicate where a person focuses their attention. Many references in the Bible to "looking" at something are more about choosing to consider something, or dwelling on it, and not about merely perceiving an image (Genesis 31:12; Joshua 24:15; Proverbs 23:26). Many biblical references to sin and temptation begin with someone "seeing" something—these references are not merely about vision, but where that person chose to place their attention. Eve sinned after she "saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise" (Genesis 3:6). Samson sinned after he saw one of the daughters of the Philistines and told his parents to get her for him as his wife (Judges 14:1–2). David sinned after "he saw from the roof a woman bathing" (2 Samuel 11:2).
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