Proverbs 9 is the last chapter of lengthy appeals to choose wisdom and reject foolishness. Chapters 10-31 contain collections of individual proverbs, or short wise sayings on how to live for God. As we we have seen with these true “proverbs,” many of them are grouped together around various topics like anger management, discipline and training of children, and the dangers of wealth and pride. But in Proverbs 1-9, we have broad appeals to the audience to devote their whole hearts to wanting God’s Word to motivate and guide them. These chapters are begging the reader and listener to seriously consider the main direction or path in which their life is headed, and to make a strong decision to go “all in” with wisdom.
So it is with Chapter 9, which personifies wisdom and foolishness as two different women calling out for travelers to hear and follow them. Woman Wisdom speaks first. She offers her followers a stable home life with plenty of good food and drink (vv. 1-2). She has sent out her ambassadors (like parents, teachers, pastors, and Bible study leaders) to call young, naive people like you to choose her path and find life, peace, knowledge, understanding, and hope (vv. 3-6). Wisdom knows that many people will reject her advice; such people sadly mock and hate God and His Word (vv. 7-8a). Yet Wisdom also knows that some people (hopefully you!) will accept the truths of God’s Word and allow them to correct and direct their hearts and lives (vv. 8b-9). To bring it all together, Woman Wisdom reminds her hearers of the theme verse for the whole book Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). To know God and walk humbly before Him is the truly happy or blessed life (vv. 11-12). How could we walk away from that?
The Text (Proverbs 9:1-12)
1 Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;
2 She has slaughtered her meat, She has mixed her wine, She has also furnished her table.
3 She has sent out her maidens, She cries out from the highest places of the city,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
5 “Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the way of understanding.
7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just 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 understanding.
11 For by me your days will be multiplied, And years of life will be added to you.
12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, And if you scoff, you will bear it alone.”
Questions to Think About
- If you look at the overall direction of your life in the past year, would you say that you are on God’s path of wisdom or the world’s path of sin and foolishness? Explain.
- Are you a teachable person who is open to receiving correction and guidance from God’s Word and other mature Christians? Why or why not?
- The picture of Woman Wisdom appealing to naive travelers is really just another way of saying that God Himself is calling out to people to follow Him and find life. How does imagining God calling out to people to love, listen, and follow Him teach us more about what He is like?