Wine or Water

Wine or Water

October 6th, 1996

Daniel 1:5-8

And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank: so nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. Now among these were of the children of Judah, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: Unto whom the prince of the eunuchs gave names: for he gave unto Daniel the name of Belteshazzar; and to Hananiah, of Shadrach; and to Mishael, of Meshach; and to Azariah, of Abednego. But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 1:5-8

10-06-96    Sunday School



The title of the lesson is Wine or Water?  And we begin at verse 5 in that first chapter: "And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank; nourishing them three years, that at the end thereof they might stand before the king."  Then, verse 8: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank."  So, he inquired of the head of the eunuchs – he himself was a eunuch – that they might not defile themselves with that wine which the king drank. 

So the rest of the story there is the head of the eunuchs Melzar acquiesces and for those 10 days, they did not drink wine.  They drank water and refused all of the luxuries of the king’s table.  So, the story ends that, at the end of the ten days why, they appeared before the king and they looked better, healthier than all of the others who were in the presence of the king in the palace.

Now, that’s the story and the lesson that follows after it.  In the text, it is not either-or but a both/and.  He refused it all.  He refused the table of the king’s delicacies and he refused the presence of the drunkards at the bar.  And he chose for himself and those captives with him a total abstinence.  In the King James Version, it is called "pulse."  The translation actually would be vegetable soup.  He chose vegetables and water.

And that brings up that subject of the wine and the water; "The Two Glasses."  There is a famous Christian poet named Ella Wheeler Wilcox who wrote this marvelous poem:


There sat two glasses, filled to the brim,

On a rich man’s table, rim to rim.

One was wine and red as blood,

And one water from the crystal flood.


Said the glass of wine to the paler brother,

As they told their tales the one to the other;

I can tell of banquets, revel, and mirth,

And the proudest and grandest souls on earth


They tell under my touch those struck by blight

Where I am monarch and rule at night

From the heads of kings I have torn the crown;

From the height of fame I have turned them down.


I have blasted away an honored name;

I have taken virtue and given shame;

I have made the arm of the driver fall,

And start the train from the iron rail.


I have made good ships go down at sea,

And the cries of the lost were sweet to me.

Ho, ho! pale brother," laughed the wine,

"Can you boast of deeds as great as mine?"


Said the water-glass: "I cannot boast

Of a king dethroned, or a murdered host,


But I can tell of a heart once sad

And my crystal drops have made them glad;

Of thirsts I have quenched, and brows I have laved;

Of hands I have cooled, and souls I have saved.


I have slept in the sunshine and dropped from the sky

And everywhere gladdened the landscape and I

I have calmed the hot forehead of fever and pain;

I have made parched meadows grow fertile with grain.


I can tell of the powerful wheel of the mill,

That ground out the flour, and turned at my will.

I can tell of manhood debased by you,

That I have listed and crowned anew;


I cheer, I heal, I strengthen and aid;

I gladden the heart of man and maid;

I set the chained, wine captive free,

And all are better for knowing me.


These are the tales they told each other,

The glass of wine and his paler brother,

As they sat together, filled to the brim,

On the old man’s table, rim to rim.

[Ella Wheeler Eilcox, "The Two Glasses"]


Water and wine: the inducements to drink there in that king’s court were almost indescribable and unassailable.  They were in a strange land, away from family and friends and people that knew them.  Why not drink?  They were courtiers in a heathen palace.  The custom of the palatial residence was to drink.  Why should they be different?  Were they the only ones refusing?  To go along makes for political preferment, advance their careers, so they can be successful.

They were appointed by the king himself.  Many a man refused to drink from the hand of a eunuch.  Many a man refused to drink from the hand of a beefy, dull bartender.  But, when the wine is offered by the hand of the king, who could refuse?  Daniel did.  His body was the temple of God and he refused to defile it.  He refused to honor it.  What do you think of someone who thought his body was sacred and not to be confounded with the dirt of the earth?


One night in late October,

When I was far from sober;

Returning with my load with manly pride,

My feet began to stutter.

So, I laid down in the gutter.

And a pig came along

And laid down by my side.

A lady passing by

Was then heard plain to say,

"You can tell a man who boozes

By the company he chooses."

At which the pig got up

And slowly walked away.

[Benjamin Hapgood Burt, "Judged By The Company One Keeps"]


And another one; a newspaper man, traveling through the back roads, saw a gnarled, wrinkled, bent old man, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of his house.  Sensing a human-interest story, the reporter decided to interview the old man.  "Sir, I’d like to know the secret of your long life," said the reporter.

He replied, "Well, I drink a gallon of whiskey every day.  I smoke 50 cigars.  And I go out dancing every night," said the man.

 "Remarkable!" exclaimed the reporter.  "Exactly how old are you?"

And he replied, "I’m twenty seven."

Now, from our city of Dallas – Recently, a Dallas newspaper reported this in a dispatch that concerned Parkland Hospital, in our city.  It reads:


Yesterday, we saw another preview of hell in the Parkland Hospital Emergency Room: a woman, struck down by a drunken driver.  A college student, lying semi-conscious following a head-on collision with another drunken driver, who himself was critically injured.  The drunk’s companion was dead.  Four other drunks, with lacerations and stab wounds, were waiting to be treated.

Night after night and year after year, the same bloody trail of horror: major auto accidents, stabbings, rapes, wife beatings, nightly emergencies treated and released or admitted to the Hospital or pronounced dead on arrival.  And almost always, the bloody trail is led by that honored man of distinction: the weekend drunkard; and almost always, the moderation drinker, not the alcoholic.

I wonder if there is that much joy to be gained from the total consumption of all the beers and whiskeys ever made even to equal even a small fraction of the innocent sufferings, the damaged bodies, the broken marriages, the discarded children, the total brutalities and crimes that will inevitably accompany its use.  What a quiet place our emergency room here at the hospital would be if beverage alcohol were ever abolished from the city of Dallas.


I can just hardly believe such things.

Now, the use for alcohol – God is wise and he does not make things for nothing.  So, in the Bible, there are words that speak of the use of alcohol.  For example, in Proverbs 31, it will speak of the merciful sedation of those who are condemned.  In the Bible, also, it speaks of a medicinal use of alcohol.

Timothy, that young convert and preacher of Paul – Timothy was a teetotaler.  In 1 Timothy 5:13, the Apostle Paul writes to him: "Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and for thy often infirmities."  He was a teetotaler.  He would not touch it.  And yet, he was ill with his stomach.  He had stomach trouble.  So, Paul said, "Take just a little wine."  That’s medicinal.  "Take a little wine for your stomach’s sake."  Also, also, wine was used in the Bible for beautiful occasions – celebration.  For example, in the second chapter of the Book of John, you have the story of the turning of water into wine: the first miracle of our Lord.

So, that just bothers me at first.  The Lord manufactures wine.  But, I want to show you something: the thing closes, in the ninth verse:


When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know whence it was; the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

And said unto him, Every man at the beginning sets forth the best wine that he has; and then when all have drunk, then that which is not good; but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

[John 2:9, 10]


What is that?  The wine that Jesus had made out of that water was nothing like the wine that they drink and get drunk on.  And what is my ultimate comment to be made on that?  It is this.  In the twenty-sixth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew:  "This is My blood of the new covenant, shed for the remission of sins.  But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom."

Now, that’s one of the most unusual things you could think for.  The story of the establishment – the institution of the Lord’s Supper is told four times.  It is told in Matthew, told in Mark, told in Luke, and told in 1 Corinthians, chapter 11.  And in no one of them is the word "wine" used.  It is always "the cup" or "the fruit of the vine."  And I tell you – I know this will be true.  What they were drinking is what is described in the glorious consummation of the closing of the Revelation when Jesus says: "I will drink it new with you in the kingdom of God" and when they were seated at the marriage supper of the Lamb.  That’s the kind of wine that they drank.

Well, how is it that they had that liquor everywhere in that day?  The answer is very obvious and very plain.  They had no way to can anything or to bottle anything.  The gift of bottling, of canning, of preserving is practically new – is practically in our day.  Back there, for those thousands of years, they had no way to can anything – no way to bottle anything.  They had no way to preserve anything.

Consequently, when the vineyard was reaped and the grape juice was recovered, it fermented.  There was no way else.  So, back there, in that day, they had fermented wine.  But, today, you can bottle it.  You don’t have to ferment it and it is a gift of God.  And that’s the kind of wine – that’s the kind of grape juice – that’s the kind of cup of the fruit of the vine that we are going to drink in the kingdom of our Lord.

Now, the liquor industry is a far cry from what was back there in that day of our Lord.  The liquor industry knows that its future depends upon getting our young people to drink.  If they can’t succeed in that, they are going to fail in these days that lie ahead.  So, in every way that is possible, the liquor industry seeks to induce our young people to drink.

And I have a word for those young people:


You’re starting, my boy, on life’s journey

Along the grand highway of life.

You’ll meet with a thousand temptations.

Each city with evil is rife.


The world is a stage of excitement.

There’s danger wherever you go.

But, if you are tempted to weakness,

Have courage, my boy, and say No.


Be careful in choosing companions.

Seek only the brave and the true.

And stand by your friends when in trial,

Never changing the old for the new.


And when by false friends you are tempted

To taste of the wine cup, you know

With firmness, with patience and with kindness,

Have courage, my boy, and say No.

[Horatio R. Palmer, "Have Courage To Say No"]


Now, that’s the way I feel about anything that is ever presented, no matter who is your host or hostess, no matter what elegant company you may be invited to share, no matter where you are.  Just say No.  If you wouldn’t think it – let me take a leaf out of my own life.  Colonel C.C. Slaughter, for whom our chapel is named – Colonel C. C. Slaughter had the largest ranch this world has ever known.  He had 3,000,000 acres in Texas – Colonel C.C. Slaughter – 3,000,000 – I can’t imagine it.

Well, anyway, when he died, he divided his vast ranch up among his children.  And three of those girls – those daughters – were here in our church when I came.  Colonel C.C. Slaughter was about the best friend and helper that George Truett ever had.  So, when I came here, I inherited – I inherited four of those girls.  The first wife of Colonel C.C. Slaughter died.  And he married again.  And that’s the mother of Nell DeLoche, who was here when I came.

Well, anyway, the older wife had three children who were here in our church: Minnie Slaughter Veal – and you know, she gave me the money for that building right there – that parking building and the recreational building – Minnie Slaughter Veal, who was one of the dearest friends in this world that I ever had.  She gave me $2,500,000 to build that building and made me promise I’d tell nobody where I got the money nor what I was doing.  I built that building over there and the church had no idea what was going up.  It was an amazing thing.  And it was only when it was completed that I persuaded her to let me dedicate it to her.

Well, anyway, Minnie Slaughter Veal; and Mrs. T.J. Wright; and the third one was Carrie Dean.  Carrie Dean’s husband died.  And she became the most impossible recluse you could ever have been introduced to in your life.  She dressed in solid black.  You never saw her but in solid black.  And she stayed at home.  She was a hermit.  She never went anywhere.  She just grieved and lived that kind of a tragic life.  Well, when I came here, out of deference to that family, I began to cultivate Carrie Dean and I got her out of her black clothes.  I succeeded in it.  I got her out of the house.  I succeeded in it.  I got her down here to church, and she began taking a vital part in the life of this church.

Well, upon a day, she invited me to a dinner out at her beautiful palace in Highland Park.  And in a great big dining room, she had the members of her family and an illustrious group of guests.  Then at every table, she had a glass.  And she herself came out with a big bottle of wine.  And she went around and poured wine in each one of those glasses and saved the last one for me.

So, when she went around and poured wine in all those glasses, she came to my glass.  And she reached over, to tip that bottle and pour wine in my glass.  And I put my hand over it and I said, "No, Carrie Dean.  You can’t pour wine in my glass.  I don’t drink."

"Oh," she said, "you’re my guest.  You’re my guest and you’re in the presence of all of these friends of mine.  I’m going to pour your glass."

I said, "No, Carrie.  You’re not to pour any wine in my glass."

"But," she said, "you’re my guest.  And you’re here in my home.  And all of us are going to drink wine.  Just look at all of us.  And I’m going to pour wine in your glass."

And I said, "Carrie Dean, you’re not going to pour wine in my glass.  It is against my faith.  It is against my religion.  And I will not let you."

And when I said that, all of them burst into laughter and loud, pointing, said, "You lose!  You lose!  You lose!"

I had no idea what in the Sam Hill they were hollering at.  And I said, "What do you mean, hollering at her like that?"

And every one of them had made a bet with her that she could get me to drink wine.  "You lose!  You lose!"

Well, sir.  I’m so proud of myself in that.  I don’t know how to say it.  I had the courage to say, "No – No.  I do not drink.  I’m not alcoholically inclined.  Thank you for your gracious kindness but I do not drink."

Well, one of the reasons why you cannot help but admire the wonderful President Lincoln; in every way you could ever know him or read about him or get acquainted with him; anything, he had a glorious character to expose.  Now, you listen to this:


Whether or not the world would be vastly benefited by the total banishment from it of all intoxicating drinks seems to me not now an open question.  Three-fourths of mankind confess the affirmative with their tongues.  And I believe all the rest acknowledge it with their hearts.  Namely, that in that banishment of all liquor from the earth, we would find a stronger bondage, a slavery manumitted, a great tyrant disposed.  In it, more of wants supplied, more disease healed more of sorrow assuaged; by it, no orphans starving, no widows weeping; by it, none wounded in feeling and none injured in interest.  And when the victory of the banishment of liquor from the earth shall be complete, when there shall be neither a slave nor a drunkard on the earth, how proud the title of that hand which may truly claim to be the birthplace of both these revolutions that shall have ended in that victory; how nobly distinguished that people who shall have planted and nurtured to maturity both the political and moral freedom of their country.


Now, that’s about as strong an avowal of "I am for the banishment of liquor industry from the land."  That’s Abraham Lincoln.  Thank God for Daniel.  We go a long way back in history to get to him but worth it all; the journal, this journey to ancient Babylon to find a man like him.

Now, I have an addendum.  As you can see, I have difficulty talking.  Did you know I am taking seven different kinds of medicine?  Isn’t that amazing?  I have whatever it is, nobody knows, in my nose and drips then drip.  I never knew a nose could drip like that until it came along in me.  And the doctors gave me a whole bunch of medicines and they afflict my throat and my words.

Anyway, there was a famous doctor, Jack, by the name of Lorenz.  He lived the first part of this century.  He was from Vienna, Austria.  And when the great Dr. Lorenz was in America, and came here to visit in Dallas, he sat down at a table where the guests indulged in drink.  His own wine cup, he pushed aside, untasted.  His companion, at his side, asked Dr. Lorenz: "Are you a teetotaler?"

"Yes," said Dr. Lorenz, "I am but I am also a surgeon, not an agitator.  My success depends upon my brains being clear and my muscles firm and my nerves steady.  No one can take alcoholic liquor without blunting these physical powers, which must be kept on edge.  As a physician, I must not drink."

Then we think of the word of Thomas A. Edison to Francis Willard – you know, the great intemperance leader.  When she asked him why he never drank liquor, Thomas Edison replied, "Because I have a better use for my brain;" which brings to my mind this wonderful word in the Book of Proverbs: Proverbs 20:1: "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging; and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise."  Then, a like passage, in Proverbs 23:29-32:


Who hath woe!  Who hath sorrow?  Who hath contentions?  Who hath babblings?  Who hath wounds without cause?  Who hath redness of eyes?

They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine.

Look not thou upon the wine when it is ready, when it giveth its color in the cup, when it moveth itself aright.

At the last, it biteth like serpent, and stingeth like an adder.


Can you imagine anything as brutally true and viciously true, as brutally eloquent as that is about drinking wine?  So it is with us.  We are admonished to work against it.

My time is gone.  Let me close.  Belshazzar was a drunkard.  And he brought about the decline and the collapse of the Babylonian Empire.  Alexander the Great – do all of you remember this?  Alexander the Great, the most marvelous leader on the military field the world has ever known – Alexander the Great died drunken when he was 33 years old.  It’s unthinkable.  The Duke of Wellington faced Marshal Ney at Waterloo.  Why did he lose the war?  Because the French army was drunk.  And in your day, in World War II, General Pattaine – the French man against Hitler – General Pattaine was defeated because he was so drunk that he couldn’t guide the war.  And the Vishy government in 1940, the head of the French army against Hitler – the French army was drunk.  And it provided the way for the collapse of the French against Hitler – alcoholism, drinking.

And let me add one other thing – what drinking can do.  As a child, John L. Sullivan had a great start.  He was naturally strong and developed a wonderful physique.  He had an appetite, though, for strong drink.  He thought it did him no harm.  And all unknown to himself this strong man was sowing the seeds of his own defeat.  John L. Sullivan was the greatest boxer the world ever produced.  He was the champion of the world from 1882 to 1892 – John L. Sullivan.  I’ve heard of him all my life.

In his day, there was a man named John Corbett – I mean Jim Corbett.  Jim Corbett was handicapped from childhood by a weak constitution.  Knowing his frailty, Jim Corbett studied foods and the care of his body.  Knowing his frailty, he followed that through the years of his life.  By intelligence and perseverance, he developed a strong physique.  Conscious of his power, he challenged Sullivan to a world championship in the ring.  Sullivan was angry.  He was insulted.  He said, "I’ll hit him just once and it’ll all be over."

For an hour, the battle raged.  And the championship passed from Sullivan to Corbett.  Corbett won that great worldwide fight in the ring.  Sullivan was wise enough to place the blame where it belonged; on liquor.  He then used his voice to denounce the thing that had been his undoing.  He became a Temperance advocate and went up and down our land, sounding a warning from a public platform.  Don’t tamper with liquor.  It’ll get you.  Abstain and keep strong physically all the rest of your life.


Dr. W. A. Criswell

Daniel 1: 8-16



Inducements to drink

A.   In a strange land,
away from home, family

B.   In a heathen palace, customs
of the people, only me refusing

C.   Political preferment,
career, success

D.   Appointed by the king

His body the temple of God and he refused to defile it

A.   Scripture reference

B.   Verification of

A use of alcohol

A.   Merciful sedation

B.   Medicinal