Day 9: Proverbs 9: 1-2, 13-14
Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has
mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of town
- Notice the way the author contrasts two women who personify wisdom and folly. Wisdom is active and constructive.
- The author uses the words “built,” “hewn,” “slaughtered,” “mixed,” and “set,” when discussing Wisdom.
- By contrast, the author is descriptive of who the person Folly is, but not of her constructive works. Folly is loud, seductive, and knows nothing. When the author does describe her actions, she is passive, she sits and takes, she is not constructive.
- Wisdom’s actions are completed, not ongoing. Wisdom is established, not establishing. This suggests Wisdom is not set as an example we should emulate, but as a voice calling to us to follow. As Christians we have not built, we are building. We have note hewn, we are hewing. Wisdom calls to us (see vv. 4-6) to follow her.
- Folly, on the other hand, is the example to flee from. She substitutes volume for action, she is seductive without content (“...and knows nothing). And Folly is lazy. She sits and takes a prominent seat, rather than sending out her followers (v. 3). This is likely because her followers are dead (v. 18).
We will have two voices calling out to us, Wisdom and Folly. They both have their house, they are both established. But we know what Wisdom offers. Wisdom offers sustenance (her table is set, the beasts slaughtered, the wine mixed) and protection (her house is well supported by seven hewn pillars). And Wisdom’s followers are called into the work of Wisdom and her insight (v. 3-6). Wisdom is life (v. 6).
Folly is calling too, and we know that Folly is seductive, and that Folly is death. Proverbs 9 makes devastatingly clear in its final verse that Folly’s house is filled with the dead. Her guests are “in the depths of Sheol.” There is no protection or sustenance at Folly’s house, only death, only the depths of despair.
So how can you know, when you hear the call of Wisdom and Folly, which voice is which? Proverbs 9 offers life-giving guidance. Wisdom’s followers point to her, to the fear of the Lord (v. 10), and to the Holy One (v. 10). Folly is selfish, she doesn’t point towards the Lord, she points towards herself, or to the listener (v. 17).
There is no ambiguity in Proverbs 9, not suggestion that the choice between Wisdom and Folly is unclear. Wisdom is the call to life, and Folly to death. While Folly is loud and seductive, she is ignorant and lazy. Proverbs 9 has, “set before you life and death, blessing and curse.” And Proverbs 9 invites you to choose life. See Deuteronomy 30:19.
Heavenly Father, you are the start of wisdom and insight. I need your guidance to discern the voice of wisdom in my daily life, and the work of your Holy Spirit to resist the seductive ignorance of folly. Every moment of every day I need your help to choose wisdom; to choose life. Direct my path today towards Wisdom’s house, towards your protection and providence. Amen.
- Philip Harris