This is part nine in my 31-day study through the book of Proverbs. The purpose of this study is to learn what God has to say in this book about wisdom and discernment. Yesterday I learned that wisdom and foolishness are wholly incompatible, as wisdom is unable to express any form of foolishness or perversity. I also learned that earthly rulers are to use wisdom to form the basis of their decisions and judgments and that wisdom existed with God in its perfect form before the world was made and it served as the basis for Creation.
The ninth chapter of Proverbs contains two sections that contrast the invitation of wisdom with the invitation of foolishness. Using similar language and imagery it shows the rewards of wisdom and the destruction of folly.
Verses 1 through 12 again personify wisdom as a woman, this time as one laying out a great banquet. She has prepared a feast and has sent out her servants to call people in to enjoy it. They cry out “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” and “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” As with the previous chapters, the way of wisdom is show to be one and the same with the way of life. To forsake foolishness and pursue wisdom is to live a life of value, approved by God.
In the midst of wisdom’s invitation there are three verses that contrast the way the wise and the foolish react to rebuke. “Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.” The foolish, arrogant in their supposed knowledge, hate to be corrected. The wise, willing and eager to gain wisdom, are eager for necessary rebuke and will be thankful to learn of any foolishness that still dwells within them. “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser.” Though a man may be wise, he will never be perfectly wise. Therefore, as one seeking wisdom, I am to strive for wisdom throughout my whole life, never believing that I have reached perfection.
Verse ten repeats what we learned in the first verse – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” Only through knowledge of God can a man become wise. It is necessary to discover the Source of wisdom in order to become wise. When I know the Source I can experience wisdom’s blessings.
The final six verses are the call of folly. Where wisdom was industrious and made a wonderful meal, folly can offer only stolen food. Where wisdom goes out and seeks people, folly is lazy, sitting at the door of her house and calling to those who pass by. Her call is the same, saying “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” But all she has to offer is foolishness, trying to make people believe that “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” A man who lacks understanding and follows the way of folly will soon come to realize that her way leads to hell, for he has turned his back on wisdom, and thus on God Himself.
The objective for this study is to learn godly wisdom and discernment. Based on the ninth chapter of Proverbs, here is what I have learned:
- Wisdom and folly both compete for my attention, even calling in the same manner.
- To rebuke someone who is not intent on wisdom is a waste of time and will only harm me.
- To rebuke someone who is intent on wisdom will lead to blessing. As one seeking, wisdom I am to be open to reproof and correction from both God and men.
- Folly offers only lies. Her way leads to separation from God.