A message from his mother, “King Lemuel” (;1) – otherwise unknown to us in history – is instructed here on intoxicants. “It is not for kings…to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer.”
Beer from barley and wine from grapes or other summer fruit (dates or pomegranates) are at issue. In antiquity, corn liquor was unknown.
As the major analgesic of the times, the ideal of total abstinence from alcohol was probably uncommon. But it was connected to special spiritual commitments to a higher calling – like the qualifications of a Nazirite (Numbers 6:1-4).
And, as it applies to governmental leaders, King L’s momma notes “they drink and forget what the law decrees, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”
Because alcohol can impair good thinking, she’s concerned that, when leaders are drinking alcohol, there’s a high probability they’ll make decisions which will hurt others – especially those in need. Leadership has special responsibilities for the greater good and alcohol doesn’t contribute to that end.
I’ll suggest the message of this wise saying for us is that anything which causes us to hurt and not help others – especially those less fortunate – is wrong. Momma said!