Solomon concludes his personification of wisdom, and adds another character to the mix – the personification of folly (the opposite of wisdom).
Chapter 9 naturally divides into three parts:
- Wisdom’s invitation
- Her Preparation (vv. 1-2)
- Her Invitation (vv. 3-5)
- Her Promise (v. 6)
- Our choice – Wisdom or Folly (vv. 7-12)
- Folly’s invitation
- Her Description (vv. 13-15)
- Her Invitation (vv. 16-17)
- Her Consequences (v. 18)
Solomon masterfully compares and contrasts the two opposing forces in each person’s life – following the Lord (personified as Wisdom), or following our own natural desires and instincts (personified as Folly).
Notice Wisdom’s careful preparation and planning:
- She has a home (v. 1)
- Her home is fully furnished and decorated (v. 1)
(“Seven” refers to completeness / perfection)
- She has raised and prepared her own food (v. 2)
- She has prepared a special drink for the occasion (v. 2)
- She has decorated and thrown a huge banquet (v. 2)
- She has trustworthy servants who invite others (v. 3)
- She invites any and all to join her (vv. 3-5)
- Her invitation comes with a future and promise (v. 6)
- Her promise is life (v. 6)
Contrast this to Folly’s portrayal:
- She has a house (v. 14) vs. a home (v. 1)
- There is no mention of preparation
- Food and drink are stolen (v. 17)
- She has no servants or helpers (v. 15)
- She invites the same folks as Wisdom (v. 16)
- No future, only immediate gratification (v. 17)
- No promise, only enticement
- The consequences are death (v. 18)
In between the portrayal of Wisdom and Folly, Solomon lays out our choice – will we pick Wisdom, or Folly?
In verses 7-9, describes the actions and attitudes of a wise vs. a foolish person. Solomon shows that how a person responds to criticism indicates whether that person is wise of foolish.
And where does wisdom come from? In verses 10-12, Solomon once again calls out that the fear of the Lord is the starting point. As you recall, Solomon said the same thing in his introduction to the Proverbs:
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
(Proverbs 1:7 NIV)
Similarly, Solomon reminds us that the benefits of walking with the Lord in wisdom (v. 11):
“My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.”
(Proverbs 3:1-2 NIV)
Solomon reminds us that not only will our life be long, but it will have meaning and fulfillment.
As we consider Solomon’s portrayal of wisdom and folly, we realize that this is not a single-point-in-time choice, but rather an attitude and mindset. Solomon’s primary message is the middle section (vv. 7-12) of Chapter 9:
- Will we humble ourselves before the Lord, and seek His guidance and direction, or will we live for our own comfort and convenience?
- Are we open and teachable, or are we proud, argumentative, and set in our ways?
- Do we consistently and diligently seek after the Lord, or do we just show up when it’s convenient or when we want or need something?
May we pursue friendship with Wisdom, and avoid any and all association with Folly.