1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;
whoever is led astray by them is not wise.
2 A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion;
those who anger him forfeit their lives.
3 It is to one’s honor to avoid strife,
but every fool is quick to quarrel.
How much drink is enough? The wise person knows that too much of a good thing can cause problems, so he limits his consumption. His willpower is reinforced by the knowledge of where excess will take him. He is considerate of his future, and the temptations that threaten it. He sets his limits before he is tempted, and does not allow himself to be led off course. He develops the virtue of temperance, which protects him from the dangers of overindulgence.
“A king’s wrath strikes terror like the roar of a lion; those who anger him forfeit their lives.” You may know your own limits through trial and error, but this is no way to test the limits of authority. Compromise your own rules and you risk your peace, compromise the law and you risk your life. Even if you are never caught, you cannot escape the worry of being found out. “For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”
“It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” The wise person doesn’t just respect those above him, he is considerate in every encounter. He knows that humility eventually brings honor, so he doesn’t worry about how he is seen today. The fool rushes to protect his honor at the slightest insult, not realizing that he sabotages himself. “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.“