“Wisdom has built her house; she has carved out her seven pillars. She has prepared her meat; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her female servants; she calls out from the highest points of the city: ‘Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!’ To the one who lacks sense, she says, ‘Come, eat my bread, and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave inexperience behind, and you will live; pursue the way of understanding. …
The woman Folly is rowdy; she is gullible and knows nothing. She sits by the doorway of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling to those who pass by, who go straight ahead on their paths: ‘Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!’ To the one who lacks sense, she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread [eaten] secretly is tasty!’ But he doesn't know that the departed spirits are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” (Proverbs 9:1-6, 13-18 HCSB)
High School reunions are interesting. I recall going back to one of mine. You see the former cheerleader that every guy drooled over, and wondered now, years later, what happened? Or, there is that nerd that no girl would dream of dating, now a successful businessman that any woman would dream of marrying.
Just ten years before, I was praying earnestly that God would let me go out with that cheerleader—just one time. Now, just one look at her, and then comparing her to Marilyn, the one I did marry and I think, “Thank God for unanswered prayer!”
When we are teens, our intelligence may not have matured as fully as needful, yet our impulses are extremely developed. Inexperience is an issue. Therefore our choices—and some of them will have profound consequences—are not always informed. Some people are directed by their brains and others driven by their hormones. Most grow out of it. There are often “growing pains,” however. We may carry the scars of foolish choices made in the rash affections of adolescence. Sadly, some spend the rest of their lifetime chasing an illusion rather than coming to grips with reality. They might grow older, but they never grow up.
It is a matter of sense and stupidity.
The personification of those traits is found in Proverbs. Solomon presents a tale of two women in chapter nine. One of these women is named, “Wisdom” and she is marked by sense. The other is called, “Folly” and she is characterized by stupidity.
They both share some things in common. Both make an appeal for someone to come and have a meal in their house. Each offers the promise of satisfaction, if their guest will feast at their table.
But, there the similarities end. Lady Wisdom demonstrates discretion. She sends out her servant to deliver the invitation to the inexperienced to come. Madam Folly displays brashness. She loudly beckons the inexperienced to come in to her house. The gentle woman offers a feast of good sense that will bring life. The loud whore offers pleasure for the moment that will end in death.
It is important to know that the moral component is supremely in view in Proverbs—not just the mental one. Proverbs doesn’t deal so much with I.Q. as with spiritual sense. Right in the heart of this passage, the wise king returns to his key verse, as he continues to instruct his inexperienced son, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (v.10)
He has already set forth that proposition in 1:7. The first nine chapters establish and expand on that theme. Then, starting with chapter ten, the proverbs that expound and explain that truth are presented. Chapter nine is pivotal. The table has been set, the invitation sent, and then the meal will be served up in bite-sized portions to be digested in the remaining chapters of Proverbs.
It is interesting in this context to note the place where the meal is served. Wisdom has prepared her banquet in a house with seven pillars. This might indicate that Lady Wisdom dwells in a home that is solid and spacious. To dine there is to find a place with a firm foundation and a wide invitation.
That would be true.
But, don’t forget the central, spiritual message. Perhaps this pictures a temple—a house of worship with its seven pillars—pointing to the worship of the true and living God. By contrast, the harlot, Madam Folly has her house on the high place—which is language often identified in the Old Testament for shrines containing altars to false gods. Folly’s invitation is to idolatry. Again, in Old Testament terminology such worship is spiritual adultery. That is the forbidden fruit. It is packaged seductively, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread [eaten] secretly is tasty!" (v.17).
Both Lady Wisdom and Madam Folly have their meals prepared. Those who come to their feast will be branded with sense—and the life such experience, or they will advertise their stupidity—and the death such embrace. Solomon has been to Lady Wisdom’s table. He is experienced in her delightful offerings and can testify to her life-sustaining nourishment. You would not be able to interview those who have consumed the tasty poison served up by Madam Folly—their only testimony to her food is their tombstone! “But he doesn't know that the departed spirits are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” (v.18)
The invitations have been given. The choice is between sanctified sense or sinful stupidity. Where will you eat today?