Will We Go When Wisdom Calls?
Proverbs 9 shows two options open before us, personified in two women in two houses. In Proverbs 9:1-6, we see Lady Wisdom standing at her door. In Proverbs 9:13-18, we see Lady Folly sitting at her door. And we have a choice. To whom will we go?
Verses 1-6 show us Lady Wisdom.
1 Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.”
Now, verses 13-18 show us Lady Folly.
13 The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
15 calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way,
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
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 Sheol.
So, Wisdom stands at her door. She’s built a great house, with seven pillars—beautiful perfection. She’s made all the proper arrangements. She has meat. The wine is mixed, that doesn’t mean it’s watered down, it means t’s spiced up and therefore better. The table is set. And she goes out to the streets to call all who will come to dine at her table, with her, forever.
And Folly is at her door. She’s loud and incompetent. She’s seductive, a temptress. She doesn’t stand at the door of her house; she sits because she’s lazy. She didn’t build her house; she just occupies it. But her house does sit at the high place of town, so it looks impressive. She didn’t prepare the meal, she stole it, and it’s not meat and wine, it’s bread and water. Folly’s is the loud house party that looks fun from afar, but get close enough, and it turns your stomach.
Wisdom offers ever-increasing life. Folly tricks her guests into death.
The contrast couldn’t be more stark. But there is one commonality between the two. Look at verse 4 and verse 16. They’re the same. “’Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!’” Wisdom and Folly call the same people. What does that mean? Both Wisdom and Folly are open right now to anyone who will come. These verses push us to a decision point. Which house will we choose—the house of Wisdom or the house of Folly? We can’t have both, and there is no third option.
The right answer is obvious, isn’t it? So why is it so hard to walk through Wisdom’s door? Because we’re complicated people. Sin complicates our otherwise obvious choice. Our hearts are like vinyl records. Over the years, sin creates deep grooves in our soul, and the needle of the world always finds the groove to play it’s sad, lonesome song. What we need is a new song in our heart. And that’s what God gives by his grace in Christ. God’s gospel song that he sings over you changes the song of your heart from cheap pop music to Mozart. When that happens, we see the house of Folly for the loser she is and run to the house of Wisdom as fast as we can.
And when we get there, we find not merely a virtue to take back with us into the world; we find a Person to go with us into the world. The Bible presents Wisdom as more than a Personified Lady. The Bible presents Wisdom as the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is Proverbs incarnate. In the choice between Wisdom and Folly, we’re choosing between life with Jesus and life without him—it’s that simple.
In verse 6, part of Wisdom’s invitation is, “Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” What is Folly’s invitation after verse 17? Nothing! There is no offer of life and insight because there is no life and insight with Folly. All that’s there are the dead ones, the ones wasting their life, dead even before they die.
The Bible calls Jesus the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24). And Wisdom stands at the door of his house calling all who will turn in to him.
When Christ as Wisdom calls us to eat and drink, he’s calling us to more than a meal at the Sage’s house. On the night before he died, he stood before his disciples at the last supper and “took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’”
After that, Wisdom gave himself up to die on the cross. He was condemned unjustly to execution, beaten senselessly to exhaustion, nailed ruthlessly to a cross, crucified mercilessly to death. And it was no accident! It was the plan of God!
That looked like a foolish plan to the world. But the foolishness of God is wiser than men! The Bible says, “The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Why is it the power of God? Because by the cross Jesus won our heart. He purchased our salvation. He paid for our sins. He gave us his righteousness. He saved our soul! As the old hymn says,
“No more let sin and sorrow grow
Nor thorns infest the ground:
He comes to make his blessings flow
Far as the curse is found!”
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Jesus is not only the Sage we need; he’s the Savior we need. The wisdom of God is more than just right thinking; it’s the glories of his righteousness and the wonders of his love.
Here’s the point: the wisdom of God is not the obvious choice to fools like us. But the Wisdom of God is not an unreachable thing for fools like us! Why? Because Christ came to take upon himself our foolishness at the cross. And when he died, what looked like folly to the world was the wisdom of God three days away from bursting forth in new life for all of God’s people for all time.
Wisdom calls us to forsake folly and follow Jesus. And we find the power to do that by beholding the wisdom of the cross where the Prince of glory died. The risen Christ is calling us to more than a meal at his house. He’s calling us to salvation in his kingdom. The only question remaining is: will we go?
This is an excerpt from a sermon on Proverbs 3 & 9 preached at Refuge Church Franklin.