Read Proverbs 31:6-7. How are we to understand these texts?
A quick reading of these verses gives the impression that Lemuel’s mother allows the consumption of wine or any other alcohol for the person who is about to die (Prov. 31:6) or for the person who suffers from depression (Prov. 31:7).
This reading, however, would contradict not only the immediate context — Lemuel’s mother has just warned the king against wine drinking — but also the general context of the book of Proverbs, which systematically and emphatically prohibits wine drinking.
In addition, it hardly makes sense to offer something to the perishing that would only make their health and well-being worse. And giving alcohol to a depressed person is like giving salt to someone who is already dehydrated. If, as we know, God cares about our bodies and our health, it doesn’t make sense to see these texts, especially in context, encouraging the use of alcohol.
More important, an analysis of the use of the expression
who is perishing in the book of Proverbs reveals that it is always associated with the wicked (Prov. 10:28; Prov. 11:7, Prov. 11:10; Prov. 19:9; Prov. 21:28; Prov. 28:28) . Through the expression
who is perishing, Lemuel’s mother points in fact, by association, to the wicked. As for the expression
bitter of heart, it refers to the depressed person(Prov. 31:6, NKJV) , who like the wicked becomes insensitive and
forgets poverty (Prov. 31:7) .
Satan gathered the fallen angels together to devise some way of doing the most possible evil to the human family. One proposition after another was made, till finally Satan himself thought of a plan. He would take the fruit of the vine, also wheat, and other things given by God as food, and would convert them into poisons, which would ruin man’s physical, mental, and moral powers, and so overcome the senses that Satan should have full control. Under the influence of liquor, men would be led to commit crimes of all kinds. Through perverted appetite the world would be made corrupt. By leading men to drink alcohol, Satan would cause them to descend lower and lower in the scale. — Ellen G. White, Temperance, p. 12.