Proverbs 9:  A Complete House, Life

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Proverbs 9:10

Two Ways of Life

 

The two ways of life are contrasted in this chapter, with both Wisdom and Folly personified as women.

Folly, “moral rebellion,” is also personalized in chapters 6-9 as a woman and set in contrast to wisdom.  Wisdom is disciplined, responsive to God, and rewards whose who choose her.  Folly is undisciplined, sensuous, and brings those who choose her to an early grave.

9:1 Here is the final contrast between wisdom and folly.  Each holds a banquet, one for life and one for death.  Between the two banquet descriptions is a section that speaks of consequences of the life of wisdom and the plight of folly.  Wisdom has built her house:  Here as in 1:20, the term for wisdom is in the intensive plural rather than the singular.  It calls attention to itself.  Seven pillars:  The number seven represents completeness, as it often does in Semitic poetry.  That is, it is not that there were precisely seven pillars so much as that the house of wisdom was solidly built and substantial in character.

1  Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out her seven pillars;

9:2, 3 The meal at wisdom’s banquet includes meat and wine and a lovely table.  While wisdom is busy, attending to every detail like a gracious hostess, the foolish woman sits at the entrance of her house with very little to do.

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,

9:7-9 A scoffer or mocker is thoroughly set against wisdom and scoffs at the things of God.  How should a person respond to a mocker?  It is best not to respond at all.  By contrast, a wise man accepts correction and responds with gratitude to the one who points out his error.  A wise person always welcomes constructive criticism; by implication, he or she is also humble.

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.

9:10-12 fear of the Lord:  This is the central theme of the Book of Proverbs.  The only appropriate way to approach the holy God is with fear, that is, reverence.  The term Holy One is an intensive plural of the Hebrew word for holy:  “the most Holy One” or “the quintessence of holiness.”  For yourself… alone:  You will feel the effects of your wisdom or foolishness directly; you cannot escape them.

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.”

9:13-18 This section is a parody of vv. 1-6.  Like personified wisdom, the foolish woman calls out an invitation.  But she is brash, loud, undisciplined, and knows nothing.  She cries out in the same words that wisdom has used, but with a twist:  she has no marvelous banquet for her guests, only shabby food, stolen and meager.  Though she gets lots of attention, her appeal makes sense only to him who lacks understanding.

13  A foolish woman is clamorous; She is simple, and knows nothing. 14  For she sits at the door of her house, On a seat by the highest places of the city, 15  To call to those who pass by, Who go straight on their way: 16  “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”; And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 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 hell.

 

** The life of each of us is also a house.  We can also have a house/life that is complete.  The columns we could build may be way fewer than seven but the Lord supplies the rest to make it complete.  Viola!  A house that is complete built on a solid foundation!

Nobody wants discipline.  But everybody wants to become a disciplined person.  Only a disciplined person is free.    Free to do good things for oneself and others.

 


9 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.” 13  A foolish woman is clamorous; She is simple, and knows nothing. 14  For she sits at the door of her house, On a seat by the highest places of the city, 15  To call to those who pass by, Who go straight on their way: 16  “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”; And as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, 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 hell.

 

 

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