Summary: Wisdom’s call is an invitation to fear the Lord, avoid deception and ultimately a call to life.
This chapter of Proverbs contains the invitations of two women. One is called Wisdom and the other Folly. Wisdom abides in a rock solid house with seven pillars. She has prepared a banquet of choice meat and fine wine. The table is set and she sends out messengers to call out from the highest point of the city: “Let all who are simple come in here! Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.” But the woman Folly is also calling out in a similar fashion: “Let all who are simple come in here! Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” Two invitations. Two choices. Two claims to truth. Two ways of approaching life. Two destinies.
There are some interesting differences between the two women. Wisdom has prepared a meal of her own; Folly has stolen hers. Wisdom serves wine; Folly talks of stolen water. Wisdom sends out her servants to invite those who will come; Folly is loud and profane as she stands at her door and boisterously calls out herself. Wisdom is calling to those who are on the wrong path to walk in the way of wisdom; Folly is calling to those “who go straight on their way” to leave the straight path and follow her. Wisdom’s invitation leads to life; Folly’s invitation leads to death.
I see this as a picture of what is taking place in our culture today. There are two philosophies of life calling for the attention of the world: one is the way of wisdom and the other is the way of folly. There are two worldviews clamoring for the adherence of the world’s people. Both ways claim to be the right way. One way appeals to the mind — the way of wisdom. The other way appeals to the senses — the way of folly. One way believes in Truth — God’s Truth; the other way believes that everyone should live by their own truth, whatever that may be. One way believes that God’s laws are the path of life; the other way believes there should be no rules even if it leads to death.
What is the answer to the dilemma? How do we make the choice between these two competing worldviews? I believe that Wisdom is calling out to us today in the same way she did in the book of Proverbs. First of all, Wisdom’s invitation is a call to fear the Lord. The pivotal verse in this chapter is verse 10, which says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Some people try to begin with the love of God instead of the fear of God only to find that they have things completely turned around. Let me illustrate this by telling you a story of a man who was a member of a church I served in a small town. He had grown up in this small town and knew most of the people in it. As a youth he was basically a good kid, but there were times when, as most kids, he tested his limits — like the time he was going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone. The officer pulled him over and gave him a ticket, but it didn’t really worry him because he knew the judge. The judge was a member of the same church and an old family friend. The young man went smiling into the courtroom and called the judge by his first name. He was expecting a wink and pretend reprimand rather than a fine. But what he came up against was an angry Judge who sternly rebuked his irresponsible behavior and fined him the maximum amount. He went out of the courtroom with a much different attitude than the one with which he went in. If he had learned to properly fear the judge he would not have ended up in his court and experienced his wrath. If he had learned to fear the judge first he would have ended up avoiding his wrath and experiencing his friendship and love. Fear is the beginning of wisdom, and love is the end of wisdom. Love is where wisdom is completed. Love lies at the end of the path of wisdom. But put love first and you experience fear. Put fear first and you experience love. We fear God because he is the judge of all the earth and, as the Bible says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Proper fear is the appropriate response to the Judge of all the earth. It comes with the understanding that he is God and we are not, and we will stand before him and account for the way we have lived.