Proverbs 9

Proverbs 9
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Proverbs 9 is about two extremely different women who demand a choice or a decision.  The first is Woman Wisdom (WW).  WW goes to great lengths to prepare a banquet.  She, not her husband, but she has built her house and hewn her seven pillars.  This is a beautiful home and seemingly large enough to hold a banquet.  WW has taken great pains to slaughter her beasts (plural), she has mixed her wine (with spices); she has also set her table (v. 2).  She is involved with all the preparation and is not only prepared but eager for her guests.

WW is a prominent person.  She is and her young women call out at “the highest places in the town.”  This is a public affair; there is nothing secretive about her message.  She is inviting, even compelling to the simple, and those who lack sense.  “Leave your wimple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (v. 6).

In vs. 7-12, which some scholars think is a later insertion, we see that this invitation is not like other invitations.  This is serious and there are serious consequences if you reject wisdom and manifold blessings if you accept her teaching.  In the first three verses, we see the character of people revealed in how they accept correction and teaching.  The wise will love the person who reproves him (v. 8), and the wise will be still wiser and increase in learning (v. 9).  The wise get better and the one who corrects is even blessed.

But the scoffer will hate the person who corrects him (v. 8) and may even get smacked (v. 7).  So, the well-meaning person who dares reprove the person who most needs correction will be abused and incur injury.  That is a heavy price to bear for those who can’t see what kind of person they are speaking to.

What sets these two people or lives apart is found in v. 10.  The fear of the Lord is not the terror of the Lord.  Sinclair Ferguson writes, “The fear of the Lord tends to take away all other fears.”  He quotes a Scottish theologian who said, “To fear the Lord is so to know Him that you would do anything rather than lose His smile upon your life.”  The fear of the Lord is godly, healthy, and the foundation of a good life.  To fear God is recognize who He is in all His holiness and purity and to be keenly aware that He has the power and authority to cast your eternal soul into heaven or hell (Matt. 10:28; Luke 12:5).

Verse 12 sums vs. 7-12 nicely.  If you are wise, you will reap those benefits.  And if you scoff, you alone will bear it.   This serves as a warning to all those who reject, scoff, and mock God.  Oh, how terrible will be their end.  It may seem like the wicked are treated well, there is no visible difference between the godly and the ungodly but wait till the next life.  If you believe in Christ and live for Him your eternal existence will be joy, beauty, and comfort.  But that is not so for the ungodly.  It will be terror, suffering, and just punishment.  Only God decides who goes where but this sober reminder ought to reverberate within our minds and hearts daily.

Now in 13ff, Woman Folly (WF) is introduced.  She is also seated “at the highest places of town” and calls out to those who pass by (vs. 14-15).  But she does not prepare a banquet or go to the trouble to prepare food and drink like WW.  She is loud, seductive, and “knows nothing” (v. 13).  Her appeal is that the best joy, the best life is a life of sin and sexual pleasure (v. 17).  Maybe WF does not need anything extra than her core message of v. 17.  But see the warning in v. 18.  How little these simple people know that she brings death.

Doesn’t it appear that people must make a choice?  One cannot choose them both.  It is either freedom from sin or bondage to sin.  As the virgin teen can say to her friends who lost their virginity long ago, “I can be like you at any time, but you can never be like me.”

Does this teach us that one sin can send us to hell forever?  While that is true, that is not what Proverbs 9 is teaching.  We can either choose God and His Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ who offers eternal life (v. 11) or we choose to listen to the ways of the world.  One way leads to the depths of Sheol.  But many go that way (Matt. 7:13-14).  At first, happiness and freedom.  But soon sorrow, regret, and bondage follow.  Eternal loss is a tragedy beyond words.

Yet, Jesus Christ is our wisdom (Col 2:3) and our righteousness.  We do nothing to gain our salvation.  Christ earned that by His perfect life and death for us on the cross.  But He gives us wisdom through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:17).   This does not mean we do not need to read, be trained, and constantly learning.  This wisdom is learning how to navigate through life’s challenges in a way that pleases God and appropriate for the situation.  Proverbs is not contractual.  If you do this, God will do that.  Proverbs does not provide a cookie cutter approach.  But God, through all of Scripture, gives us wisdom that makes a difference in the lives of others and that makes us joyful.  Serving others is a great joy in life.  Wisdom is looking away from yourself to first, Jesus Christ, and secondly to others to serve them.

Dear heavenly Father, You are the wisest Being in the entire universe. You are not stingy with Your wisdom or any good gift You have.  How can we ever thank You for all that You share with us?  We need Your wisdom because we know so little but want to learn and grow.  Help us to make wise decisions in the face of constant temptations.  Uncover the eternal consequences of sinful decisions and the eternal joy of loving and following You, the Risen Savior Jesus Christ.  In His majestic name.  Amen.