A Tale of Two Women

Dame Folly - ProverbsYou can listen to the podcast here.

Last week we saw the creative genius of God and learned that wisdom was needed when the world with all its complexity was formed. Wisdom and God cannot be separated from one another because wisdom is an inherent characteristic of God. Since God needs wisdom, we certainly need wisdom. Over and over Solomon reminds us to listen and follow his instructions. This morning, we check out a tale of two women in striking contrast to one another.

Take the time and read all of Proverbs 9. It won’t take long and it’s really important to see where Solomon goes with these two women.

Our first woman is wisdom. We’ve seen wisdom personified in previous passages. Here she has built her house and it has seven pillars. The exact meaning of that is difficult to determine. Some think it refers to Solomon’s temple and others think it refers to seven days of creation that Solomon talked about in 8:22-31. Woman wisdom invites you to join her for a wonderful banquet. She wants people to attend so much that she sends out her maidens to bring people in. This is reminiscent of the account of the wedding feast in Lu. 14:15-24. I encourage you to read that passage. Lady Wisdom says that you’re invited to a special occasion that serves sumptuous food without end. Are we talking about a physical buffet? Spiritual food is a theme presented in numerous passages of the Bible. Ps. 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (Jo. 6:48-51) Only when we partake in spiritual food, is our hunger satisfied.

Have you ever had anyone tell you they have left a church because they weren’t getting fed? “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Heb. 5:12-14) Of course the church has a responsibility to provide spiritual food for you, but let’s be realistic. At most, a person spends about 4-5 hours involved in church related services or activities if involved in Sunday School, Sunday morning service, Sunday evening, and some type of mid-week service. Many churches, including C4 don’t offer Sunday School or Sunday evening because people were not taking advantage of those opportunities. The average, run of the mill Christian typically participates only in the Sunday morning service. No matter how well studied or dynamic the pastor or preacher is, no one can possibly conclude they are not getting fed at church because that’s not our job! Where is the personal responsibility? How can I possibly provide what is needed to sustain you for a week in just one or two hours? Even if you did participate in everything a church offers, you will still be lacking spiritual nourishment because the design is that we feed ourselves! The statement that one is not being fed at church is simply an example of shifting responsibility to someone else. It’s like complaining to the school that the lunch served isn’t enough to keep a kid from getting hungry after they get home.

Look who wisdom really wants at the table: “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!” The table has been set and wisdom says, “Come eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.” The food is prepared and available to you if only you’ll accept the invitation. Remember wisdom wants you to attend so she is proactive with her invitation. Like the wedding feast we read about in Luke 14, people have all the excuses in the world to decline the invitation that will change their lives forever. Even eating a meal that is prepared for you takes effort on your part. You have to pick up a fork and put it to your mouth, chew, and swallow. So even when the food is out there for you, there is something you must to do to take advantage of the nourishment. When your kids were babies, you physically fed them. As they grew and matured, you taught them to feed themselves and sometimes it was really messy, but you knew the importance of teaching them how to eat. If your kids didn’t want to eat, you likely covered it up and put it up for them. When they got hungry enough, you knew they’d eat whatever was put in front of them. The parallel to spiritual food is identical. There it is: the elephant in the room; some  people never grow hungry enough for God’s Word and that’s a huge problem. John 6:27 says, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” I cannot comprehend professing believers that do not grow hungry for God’s Word.  “Forsake your folly and live and proceed in the way of understanding.” Notice the intentionality of the invitation. It involves recognition of one’s folly which is defined as a disdain for God’s truth and discipline. It not only takes forsaking folly, but a turn to the way of understanding. There it is again – understanding.

Solomon tells us something kind of harsh: don’t waste time on a scoffer. Remember back in Pro. 1:22 when he said, “Scoffers delight themselves in scoffing.” Well, nothing has changed. Wisdom doesn’t even bother to invite the scoffer to the banquet. What’s the point? The theme for Proverbs can be found in 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Scoffers don’t want to hear it so only the simple are invited. Accepting the invitation may mean leaving your friends. The fools and the scoffers will try and talk the simple out of going. You don’t need that, it’s for the weak. You won’t have any fun. You’ve met these types of people. They don’t want to listen to the truth, they want to do it their way, they don’t want to be told they’re wrong, don’t want to accept the truth to become wiser and that makes it very difficult to love them. You just keep on loving them and praying for opportunities to demonstrate Christ to them. The gap between the wise and the fool continues to widen. Primarily because the wise continue doing what increases wisdom while the fool continues doing what is foolish.  It’s found in v. 9-10. Wise people do not wake up one day and say, I’m wise enough. The result is that days are multiplied, and years of life are added when you seek wisdom. The opposite is also true. “If you scoff, you alone will bear it.”If you seek wisdom, you will find it.    If you want to be a scoffer, you will reap the consequences.

And on to the woman of folly. “The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naive and knows nothing.” Tell me what you really think. Folly and wisdom are in direct opposition. Wisdom represents the way of God. Folly represents all that is ungodly. Solomon describes her three ways. She is boisterous just like the adulteress he warned us about. Naive here means ignorant or thoughtless. She is without safeguard or restraint. She doesn’t know boundaries. She has no filter. She, “knows nothing” means she doesn’t know what she ought to know. Have you ever heard or said they phrase, “They know better.” She should know better, but she doesn’t because she doesn’t want to know better. Benjamin Franklin said, “Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn.” That’s folly right there. She invites others to come and dine, but there will be no feast like at the banquet prepared by wisdom. If you’re naive, come on in, you’re welcome here she says. For reasons that are unexplainable, more people flock to lady folly then to lady wisdom. In the short run it’s easier, and the long run is not even considered. Lady folly promises, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Your mind might be drawn to that wonderful banquet set out by woman wisdom. Remember in 5:15 when Solomon said, “Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well?” Contextually, I think the same idea is presented here. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Don’t be lured by the idea of easy money or the idea that a life of crime is the way to go.

The conclusion is found in v. 18 where Solomon says, “But does he not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” The banquet wisdom prepares leads to life. The banquet folly prepares leads to death. Don’t be deceived: folly leads to death.

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