Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts.
Read Chapter 31
George Leo Haydock
Drink. Hebrew shecar, particularly palm-wine.
Are sad. Hebrew, "perish "being sentenced to die; (Mark xv. 23., and Amos ii. 8.) or, who grieve and mourn for one deceased. On such occasions no food was prepared in the house, but the friends supplied what was necessary, and went to eat and drink with the afflicted, Ecclesiastes vii. 3.
Console each other with the following words. It is a good medicine that [Solomon] has for sorrow; for he bids wine be given to the sorrowful. He says this to us, the laborers in the vineyard, “Give,” therefore, “your wine to those that are in sorrow,” not that wine which produces drunkenness, plots against the senses and destroys the body, but such as gladdens the heart, the wine which the prophet recommends when he says, “Wine makes glad the heart of man.” Pledge each other in that liquor undiluted and with the unstinted goblets of the word, that thus our grief may be turned to joy and gladness, by the grace of the onlybegotten Son of God, through whom be glory to God, even the Father, for ever and ever. Amen. .
“Give strong drink to those who are in gloom and wine to those who are sad so that they may forget their poverty and be reminded no more of their grief.” What [Solomon] means is this. To those filled with bitter regret and sadness over their earlier lives give abundantly the joy of spiritual knowledge like “a wine which gladdens the heart of a man.” Warm them with the headiness of saving words lest they sink into gloom and deadly despair.
“Let people in distress have wine and those in pain strong drink,” which shows that nothing can prove such a good remedy for depression as recourse to this, aside from the fact that in some cases intemperance undermines the benefit coming from it.
“Give strong drink unto him who is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul.” Justly so, because it can mitigate asperity and gloominess and drive away clouds from the brow. “Wine makes glad the heart of man,” says the psalmist. How then does wine produce drunkenness? For it cannot be that one and the same thing should work opposite effects. Drunkenness then surely does not arise from wine but from intemperance. Wine is bestowed upon us for no other purpose than for bodily health; but this purpose also is thwarted by immoderate use. .