Wine Maketh Merry
We need to be able to read the Bible with are eyes wide open. I have found that people generally (not always) read Scripture from the perspective of their upbringing. Baptists read the Bible as though it was written by Baptists, Presbyterians as Presbyterians, Sacred Name groups as Sacred Name groups. It is difficult for most to read Scripture apart from what they were or are being taught Scripture states. What we've have to learn to do is to read Scripture in the original context in which it was written. We must also understand the author of the text, the people to whom the text was written to, and the culture at the time. When we are not commmitted to reading Scripture in this way we will often come away from our Bible reading thinking that this verse or that verse really shouldn't be in our Bibles. It's not our "denominational" way, so to speak.
One verse that may seem out of place to some is Ecclesiastes 10:19. The Scripture reads (KJV), "A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things." Alot of people will be able to "stomach" the portion of this text that talks about a feast. I've attended many a feast in my life, a get together of sorts with family and/or friends where there is much, much food to the liking. When a feast like this is held there will inevitably be laughter, and why not? It is enjoyable to laugh with others in a clean, fun way. It is enjoyable to here someone say or speak of something that is humorous to the ear. The Bible agrees and not many will argue - a feast is made for laughter.
The next sentence in the passage says that wine maketh merry. This is more difficult to swallow for the average Bible reader, but is it not just as true as the sentence previous to it? If we have no problem accepting the first part of the verse what makes us what to rip out and throw away the second part? And after all, doesn't wine make merry the heart? According to the Psalmist it does.
"He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart." [Psalm 104:14-15]
Once again, notice the surrounding context here. People will have no problem whatsoever about grass for cattle, and herbs for the service of man. Not one will argue about oil making a man's face shine and bread strengthening a mans heart. However, when we come to the phrase that says wine which makes the heart of man glad we seem to balk. "Oh that can't really mean what it says, can it?" we wonder. Yet the text speaks clearly, agreeing with the author of Ecclesiastes, and with numerous other texts in Scripture. Wine truly makes merry the heart. This is not a statement of sarcasm or rebuke; the author is not here trying to speak in such a way as to warn the reader not to make his heart merry. He is just giving a simple statement of truth, right along with a feast, and right along with grass, herbs, oil, and bread.
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Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.