Proverbs 9

1Wisdom has built her house;
    she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
    from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
    and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
    and walk in the way of insight.”
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,
    and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied,
    and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;
    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.
The Way of Folly
13 The woman Folly is loud;
    she is seductive and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house;
    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by,
    who are going straight on their way,
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
    And to him who lacks sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
18 But he does not know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

Today, as we finish reading Proverbs 9, we come to the end of the first of three sections in this incredible book of wisdom. As Solomon concludes a letter to his son about walking in the way of wisdom, he contrasts the offerings of wisdom and folly. While they sound similar, wisdom loudly proclaims life, while folly’s promise is cloaked in darkness and intriguing because it is forbidden.

Wisdom invites the simple to “come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed” (vs. 5). Here, bread and wine indicate the overflow of blessing at the table of God’s goodness. Wisdom’s invitation includes a promise: “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (vs. 6).

In contrast, folly entices the simple with lustful designs: “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (vs. 17). Folly does not need to say anything else, for the offering of sex (stolen water as the metaphor for adulterous intercourse) is a strong pull, especially to the simple one. While folly uses forbidden, temporary pleasures to tempt, its lips are sealed about the promise of sin. Here the wise man adds, “But (the simple one) does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol” (vs. 18).

Pause: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says… (vs. 4, 16).

Ponder: In Proverbs 9:4 and 9:16, the call to the simple one is the same, but as we read in the accompanying verses, the allurement and its promises are far different. Think of a time that you veered toward folly’s doorstep. What was the result? Think of a time that you ignored folly’s call and kept your eyes fixed on the One who promised life. What was the result?

Prayer: God, You are Wisdom. In each step of my day, You are calling out to me, urging me to choose the path of sustenance and life, but You have given me a free will. You will never force Yourself upon me, and while folly’s forbidden nature may seem to offer the stronger pull at times in my life, it will never provide the life You offer. Keep my ears listening to Your call to wisdom and deaf to folly’s temptations.

— Jaime Sherman