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Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Proverbs 9

Verses 1-6

Wisdom's Invitation to Dine - The invitation to dine is given in Proverbs 9:1-6. This invitation to the simple man and to the wise man given in Proverbs 9:1-6 stands in direct contrast to the invitation being given by the harlot in Proverbs 7:6-23; Proverbs 9:13-18.

Why is such a feast given at this part of the preparation. It is because the journey is about to begin in the next chapter. The meat is given to us so that we may find strength for the journey. This meat and drink is to abide in His Word so that we will have food for the entire journey. Note that this is figurative of partaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as seen in John 6:35, “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Historical Background - Remember that the context, or historical setting, of chapters 1-9 is found in the court of the king, who is training young men to become the wise men of his kingdom, who will rule and reign in his provinces. Very often, the king would have a banquet for his wise men in order to show them his riches and power. We see this in the opening chapter of the book of Esther.

Esther 1:3-4, “In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him: When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred and fourscore days.”

Thus, it is very likely that banquets were held for these young men in order to send them off into their assigned provinces. In Uganda when a student graduates from the university, the parents give him or her a party. The best food is prepared and music is organized. These parents use this party as a stepping-stone, or as a transition, for that young person to find his place in society and start the long journey of serving others in their society.

Heavenly Food in the Old Testament - We can find a similar story of a man dining on heavenly food by looking at Elijah’s flight from Jezebel after the events that took place upon Mount Carmel. He fled into the wilderness and sat under a juniper tree wishing to die, but there an angel of the Lord fed him with angel’s food in order to strengthen himself for the journey that lay ahead.

The Banquet in the New Testament - The invitation in Proverbs 9:1-6 is ultimately an invitation to come to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The book of Proverbs will take us to this destination if we follow the path of wisdom. Then shall be fulfilled that prophecy found in the book of Revelation regarding the marriage of the Lamb receiving His bride. Note:

Revelation 19:5-8, “And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”

Prior to the marriage of the Lamb, we see that the great whore is cast down, with her invitation to dine.

Revelation 19:1-4, “And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia.”

Compare Proverbs 9:13-18, where the whore also gives man an invitation to dine. This passage is figurative of the great whore who will one day be cast down.

This invitation to a feast is also similar to the Parable of the Wedding Feast found in Matthew 22:1-14. Note also the invitation from God to a backslidden Israel during the time of Isaiah:

Isaiah 55:1-3, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.”

Proverbs 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

Proverbs 9:1 “she hath hewn out her seven pillars” Word Study on “pillars” - Strong says the Hebrew word “pillar” ( עַמּוּד ) (H5982) means, “a column, a stand, apiece, or a pillar,” and it comes from the Hebrew verb ( עָמַד ) (H5975), which means, “to stand.” This Hebrew word is used 110 times in the Old Testament Scriptures and is translated as “pillar” in all but one use.

Comments - A pillar represents something that supports and undergirds every area of our lives.

Comments - The number seven represents the divine intervention of God in the affairs of mankind throughout Scripture. It symbolizes the fact that God Himself, in His divine wisdom, has built this house, and not man. Many commentators say that “seven pillars” when used in Proverbs 9:1 probably denotes the concept of completeness, as seen in Proverbs 6:31. The wisdom of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ, is sufficient for our salvation and sanctification. In Proverbs 9:1

Proverbs 6:31, “But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold ; he shall give all the substance of his house.”

If we look through the Scriptures for the concept of seven as it relates to wisdom, we do find seven spirits before the throne of God (Revelation 1:4; Revelation 4:5), which are called the seven spirits of God.

Revelation 4:5, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

Revelation 4:5, “And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”

The number seven tells us that God designs and does the work. He does it by His Spirit, whose office is to impart unto us wisdom. Note:

Zechariah 4:6, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”

Psalms 127:1, “(A Song of degrees for Solomon.) Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.”

The seven pillars in Proverbs 9:1 tell us that it is God who builds the house by His Spirit; for it says, “Wisdom hath built her house”. We have a divine destiny and purpose, which is to build a house, or fulfill our destiny. This can only be done by divine wisdom, or, by being led by the Holy Spirit.

It may also suggest that there are seven aspects by which wisdom operates in our lives. The book of Proverbs opens with seven virtues that are summarized throughout the book in the word “wisdom”. This final call very likely refers to these opening virtues listed in Proverbs 1:2-6, which virtues are woven throughout the book.

Wisdom (H2451) 39 of 149 times in Proverbs

Instruction (H4148) 30 of 50 times in Proverbs

Understanding (H998) - 14 of 38 times in Proverbs

Wisdom (H7919) 13 of 63 times in Proverbs

Justice (H6664) 8 of 116 times in Proverbs

Judgment (H4941) 20 of 421 times in Proverbs

Equity (H4339) 5 of 19 times in Proverbs

It could mean that there are seven phases that divine wisdom takes us through on this journey in life. There is the Father’s foreknowledge consisting of predestination and calling. There is justification through Jesus Christ our Saviour. The process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit leads us through the process of indoctrination, divine service and perseverance, so that we can reach our final destination called glorification.

Or, we can easily find seven phases in the journey of preparation in chapters 1-9. Here is where the journey takes us:

1. We hear the call of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1-33)

2. How we answer the call of wisdom (Proverbs 2:1-22)

3. The Blessings of Wisdom (Proverbs 3:1-30)

4. Three Paths of Wisdom (Proverbs 4:1-27)

5. Three Paths of Destruction (Proverbs 5:1 to Proverbs 6:11)

6. The Characteristics of the wicked (Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27)

7. The Characteristics of Wisdom (Proverbs 8:1-36)

Chapter 9 serves as the final call to walk in wisdom. Thus, we can consider the preparation period seen in chapters 1-9 to come in seven phases.

Peter Pett, in his work “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and In Genesis,” studies the use of numbers in the ancient world by looking at modern-day primitive tribes. He refers to the writings of the ancient Sumerians, which portrayed Sheol as having seven gates because this demonstrated their absolute impregnability. There was no way back from the underworld. The author of Proverbs may be telling us that seven pillars represents how wisdom is established by God and unchanging. Pett notes that when ancient people saw the number “seven” in literature, they did not thing as much of quantity in amount as they did the quality of the concept. [72] We see this concept in Hebrew literature with the qualitative plural, which is often used when speaking of God. His name is spelled in the plural and used with a singular verb.

[72] Peter Pett, “The Use of Numbers in the Ancient Near East and in Genesis,” [on-line]; accessed 3 August 2009; available from http://www.geocities.com/genesiscommentary/numbers.html; Internet.

Comments - Note that King Solomon set up two pillars in his Temple, and named them Jachin and Boaz.

1 Kings 7:21, “And he set up the pillars in the porch of the temple: and he set up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz, which means, established and strength.”

Peter, James and John were considered to pillars in the Church.

Galatians 2:9, “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

Paul told Timothy that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth.

1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Proverbs 9:1 Comments - It is wisdom that has built her house and hewn out her seven pillars. This house was not made by the hands of man. This represents the fact that it is something that God had done as a part of His work of redemption. We find a similar description in Daniel when he interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. In this dream stood a man with his head of gold, his breast and arms of silver, his belly and thighs of brass and his legs of iron and feet part iron and clay. But there came a stone cut without man’s hands, which struck the image and crushed it to powder. This stone represented a divine work of God in which man did not participate. So is the building of this house.

Proverbs 9:2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

Proverbs 9:2 “she hath mingled her wine” Comments - Some scholars tell us that the ancients mingled spices with their wine on special occasions in order to enhance its flavor. We see another reference to this in the Song of Songs.

Song of Solomon 8:2, “I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.”

Thus, spiced wine was the best that a host could offer his guests at a banquet. I once was invited to the office of the President’s wife in Uganda. As I waited for her to call me into her office, the ladies served me tea. But it was not ordinary tea. They had mingled spices with it to make it taste exceptional. So, does God prepare for us such food and drinks.

Proverbs 9:2 Comments - Meat and wine are eaten during times of feasts and weddings, and not normally for everyday use. The poor man lived on bread and water. But wisdom will give us God's best every day that we serve Him and eat at His table.

Proverbs 9:3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

Proverbs 9:3 Comments - God also cried out to a rebellious people during the time of Isaiah (Isaiah 65:2).

Isaiah 65:2, “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;”

Proverbs 9:4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Proverbs 9:5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

Proverbs 9:5 Comments - Since we receive our divine calling in chapter 9, we can all find this calling in the statement, “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” We know that this bread and wine ultimately represent the broken body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ when He gave His life on Calvary, which gives us access to walk in fellowship with the Father. Thus, in Proverbs 9:5 we receive our divine calling, which is to walk in fellowship with the Father, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit for the Church, and under the Old Covenant, it is through the words of divine wisdom.

If our primary calling is to walk in fellowship with God, then the size of our ministry on earth is secondary. One good example of this is seen in the testimony of Jimmy Swaggart. God does not measure a man by the size of his ministry, but by the size of his heart. When Jimmy Swaggart fell into sin, Alethia Fellowship Church was one of his partners, so this church was receiving his monthly ministry tapes during this period in his ministry. In a cassette tape immediately after his fall, he gave a testimony of how he told the Lord that he had failed. The Lord replied to him that he had not failed; rather the Lord had to get some things out of his life. [73] That word from God gave him the courage to go on in the midst of failure. You see, God was more pleased with Jimmy Swaggart living a godly life in fellowship with Him than preaching in great crusades while living in sin.

[73] Jimmy Swaggart, “Monthly Partner Cassette Tape,” (Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, February 1988), audiocassette.

Proverbs 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Proverbs 9:6 Comments - It is only through receiving this table of blessings, the bread and the wine (Proverbs 9:5), that a fool can be set free from the traps of sin (Proverbs 1:17) that bind a man unto death.

Proverbs 1:17, “Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.”

Verses 1-18

God the Father’s Foreknowledge: Calling Us to Our Journey (Preparation for the Journey) Most scholars consider Proverbs 1-9 to be a discourse, or a tribute, to wisdom. This section serves as an introduction to Solomon’s collection of wise, pithy sayings that follows. This introductory material is a preparation for being able to understand the rest of the book. Its underlying emphasis is the divine calling that God gives to every human being. Therefore, we find the statement of wisdom “crying out,” “uttering her voice” and “calling” used repeatedly throughout this section of Proverbs.

In these first nine introductory chapters, wisdom is personified as a person speaking in the feminine gender. Just as an artist sketches an outline of a painting, then splashes colors upon the canvas, until a beautiful painting emerges, so in these chapters of Proverbs does wisdom begin to reveal itself verse by verse (as an artist reveals a picture color by color) until chapter 8, when wisdom is seen as an intimate part of God and His creation. Wisdom is personified as a person speaking because man would be incapable of understanding his experiences in life without divine wisdom being given to him. This impartation is done in the person of the Holy Spirit. Wisdom is personified as a woman because the Hebrew word translated as “wisdom” is in the feminine gender.

These chapters contrast the table of blessings (Proverbs 9:1-6) with the trap of death (Proverbs 1:17-19, Proverbs 9:18). The wise man chooses wisdom's table of blessings. In contrast, the fool chooses the trap of death, supposing that it is a table of blessing. Studying this introduction is a necessary preparation for finding one’s way through the rest of the book of Proverbs. Thus, a drama immediately unfolds in the introduction, revealing to us how wisdom sets a man free, but the trap of death ensnares its victims in the strongholds of sin. These strongholds do not turn its captives loose until it completes its assignment of death. In contrast, wisdom leads a man into his rightful place of glory and honor above God’s creation (Proverbs 3:35, Proverbs 31:30), and into submission to his Creator.

This section of Proverbs is actually a call to follow the path of wisdom, in which wisdom presents his arguments for choosing the path of wisdom over the path of the fool. God calls mankind to righteousness in this present Church age through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that has been sent upon the earth, who convicts the world of sin righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11); but prior to this age God called mankind to righteousness through wisdom, which testified from Creation (Romans 1:19-23), and from society. We see in these chapters that wisdom is a path that is to be diligently followed. Wisdom is a decision that is made on a daily basis, and these daily decisions will determine our destiny, both in this life and in the life to come. This book of wisdom contrasts the wise man with the fool throughout the book. As we will see in Proverbs, every decision that we make is either a wise decision, or a foolish one. Every decision affects our eternal destiny. This section begins with a call to follow wisdom (Proverbs 1:7-9), and ends by explaining how every human being decides between destinies, heaven or hell (Proverbs 9:1-18).

In the path of wisdom, there are many dangers. It is for this reason these nine chapters give us many warnings against the evil man and the adulteress, even before the real journey begins. The path of wisdom is narrow and easily missed. All of us have fallen off this path at one time or another in our lives. This book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, considered the wisest person that has ever lived. Yet, even he fell off this path of wisdom because he allowed pride to blind his vision and dull his hearing. This gives us an indication of how narrow is this path to follow.

Pride is an attitude of the heart. It is the very reason that Solomon fell into idolatry. It is the root cause of every man's failure. It comes clothed in many forms, such as false humility and it clothes itself in man-made titles of honour, such as “honorable, his lordship, his excellence, his grace, cardinal, pope, etc.” For example, the Pope in Rome carries the title of “His Holiness”. These nine chapters open and close with Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10, which reveal the secret of avoiding failure, which is caused by pride. We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10). This fear keeps us from falling off the path of wisdom.

This introductory material in Proverbs 1-9 makes up almost one third of the book. Why is this introduction to Proverbs so lengthy relative to the overall length of the book? It is because the preparation for our journey in life is also lengthy. Solomon was taught for many years before he took the throne as king of Israel. Good training takes time and a good education does not come quickly. The degree that a person receives a secular education usually determines the height of his career. In comparison, the degree that a person becomes rooted and grounded in the Word of God will determine the height of that person's ministry. You must take the time to receive this introductory training in the first nine chapters of Proverbs before you are ready for the journey. The better we are able to understand the introduction of the book of Proverbs, the better we will be able to understand the rest of its teachings.

For hundreds of years in western civilization, a theological education was a part of a well-rounded education. All students learned the classical languages of Hebrew, Greek and Latin in order to study theological literature. The children of Israel were also to give each child a theological education. Solomon received such an education. Therefore, we can see this introduction to Proverbs as the theological training that everyone should go through in preparation for the journey in life.

One further note is worth mentioning about chapters 1-9. Upon reading, we must ask the question as to why this lengthy introduction in Proverbs spends so much time describing and warning the readers about the harlot. Perhaps because this is the one area that trapped and deceived Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived. This is the area that Solomon knows many of the young men he is training for leadership positions in the kingdom will be tempted. In addition, in a figurative sense, such spiritual adultery represents a believer who chooses to love the things of this world above his love for God.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Call of Wisdom to Young & Tender Proverbs 1:7-33

2. Answering Wisdom’s Call (A Hearing Heart) Proverbs 2:1-22

3. The Blessings of Wisdom Proverbs 3:1-35

4. Three Paths of Wisdom Proverbs 4:1-27

5. Three Paths of Destruction Proverbs 5:1 to Proverbs 6:11

6. Characteristics of the Evil People Proverbs 6:12 to Proverbs 7:27

7. Characteristics of Wisdom Proverbs 8:1-36

Verses 7-8

Fools Reject this Food Proverbs 9:7-9 tells us that wisdom is not for fools, for they will reject it when it is placed before them (Proverbs 9:7-8). This is food only for the wise man (Proverbs 9:9-12).

Proverbs 9:7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.

Proverbs 9:7 Comments - Evil men hate those who try to correct them.

Illustrations:

Genesis 19:7-9 - Lot tried to correct the Sodomites, and they turned against lot for evil.

1 Kings 18:17; 1 Kings 21:20 - Ahab hates Elijah’s report.

1 Kings 22:24 - The false prophet scorns the prophet of God, Micaiah and smote him on the cheek.

1 Kings 22:27 - The evil king also put Micaiah in prison for speaking God’s Words.

2 Chronicles 24:20-22 - King Joash has Zechariah, God’s prophet, stoned.

2 Chronicles 25:15-16 - King Amaziah refuses the words from God by His prophet.

2 Chronicles 36:16 - A summary of how Israel rejected and misused God’s prophets.

Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Proverbs 9:8, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.”

Proverbs 15:12, “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise.”

Proverbs 23:9, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”

Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Proverbs 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

Proverbs 9:8 Comments - In Matthew 7:1-6 Jesus teaches us about judging our neighbour. We are to avoid being critical of our neighbour (Proverbs 7:1-4). Instead, we are to live a lifestyle of godliness so that we can speak words of wisdom and advice into the lives of others (Proverbs 7:5). If they reject what we have to offer, we are not to push Christian teachings into their face, lest they become offended at God’s Word and further bring judgment upon themselves (Proverbs 7:6). Rather, we are to discern their hearts and help those who will accept our ministry (Proverbs 7:6). This is why Paul wrote to the church at Corinth and told them that he that is spiritual is to judge (or discern) all things while not being found guilty of sin and judged by others (1 Corinthians 2:15). That is, we are supposed to live a godly lifestyle without sin by being mature enough to be able to discern between good and evil in our lives as well as those around us.

1 Corinthians 2:15, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”

Solomon made a similar statement in Proverbs 9:8, “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” We are to correct those who are in error. If they are rebellious, the burden to correct them is not upon us. However, we are to have enough discernment to recognize when someone is receptive to correction, and offer such in a spirit of love. Solomon as well said, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” (Proverbs 27:6) If we speak the truth in love when correcting others, we may initially wound someone’s heart, but such wounds in the lives of the humble will quickly heal.

Illustration - The king of Israel hated Micaiah for his true prophecy from God.

1 Kings 22:8, “And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the LORD: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so.”

Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Proverbs 23:9, “Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.”

Proverbs 27:6, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Matthew 7:6, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Verses 9-12

Those who Fear God Receive this Food - Wisdom is for those who fear God and not for the fool. This platter will serve instruction, teaching, learning and the fear of the Lord. Its dessert will be a sound mind, a long life and prosperity.

Proverbs 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

Proverbs 9:10 Comments - In his book The Call Rick Joyner is told, “Obedience in the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, but the fullness of wisdom is to obey because of your love for God.” [74] For example, when I was a child, I ate my vegetables out of fear of punishment. Today, I eat them because I have grown to love them.

[74] Rick Joyner, The Call (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1999), 61.

Proverbs 9:10 Comments - Proverbs 9:10 is a signpost on the journey. The first nine chapters of Proverbs have been for preparing for the journey, thus the beginning of wisdom. This lengthy passage opens and closes with this verse. Note:

Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 9:11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

Proverbs 9:12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

Proverbs 9:12 Comments - We find a similar statement in Revelation 22:1, which tells us that we alone will bear our rewards. We cannot get these blessings or go to Heaven on the faith of others.

Revelation 22:11, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”

Verses 13-18

Invitation From the Foolish Woman to Dine Proverbs 9:13-17 gives us the final call of the foolish woman to come and dine. This passage also gives wisdom's final warning before the journey begins (Proverbs 9:18).

Why would the lengthy introduction of Proverbs 1-9 spend so much time describing and warning the readers about the harlot, both here and in Proverbs 6:20 to Proverbs 7:27? Perhaps because this is the one area that trapped and deceived Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived. It is one of the areas that most often trap young men.

Proverbs 9:13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

Proverbs 9:14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

Proverbs 9:15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:

Proverbs 9:16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Proverbs 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

Proverbs 9:17 “Stolen waters are sweet” Comments - Something stolen is something that violates God’s divine laws. A person breaks the law by stealing. Thus, when we chose to pursue the things of this world by violating God’s divine laws of sowing and reaping, we get things that are “stolen”, or we get things that have been obtained illegally.

Most sources of water came from wells, which belonged to individuals. Therefore, these wells were sources of strife and contention with those who claimed the ownership. This verse alludes to the fact that stolen water was sweeter than water from common wells that was gotten without difficulty. Illustration:

Genesis 26:19-22, “And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

Proverbs 9:17 “and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” - Word Study on “bread” - Strong says the Hebrew word “bread” ( לֶחֶם ) (H3899) means, “food, bread, grain.”

Word Study on “eaten in secret” The Hebrew word “eaten in secret” is ( סְתָרִים ), the plural of ( סֵתֶר ) (H5643), and it means, “covering.” The Enhanced Strong says it is used 36 times in the Old Testament, being translated in the KJV as, “ secret 12, secretly 9, covert 5, secret place 3, hiding place 2, backbiting 1, covering 1, disguiseth 1, privily 1, protection 1.”

Comments - The Hebrew phrase literally reads, “bread of secret (is) pleasant,” thus “hidden bread is pleasant.”

NIV, “food eaten in secret”

Rotherham, “a secret mean”

A most basic meal would consist of bread and water, which are both mentioned in this verse. The meal is figurative of devouring substance that belongs to someone else. Thus being stolen, it had to be devoured in secret.

Proverbs 9:17 Comments - Proverbs 9:17 is simply saying that sin brings pleasure to the fleshly makeup of man, but only for a season, until divine judgment comes. The author of Hebrews calls it “the pleasures of sin,” which is but for a season (Hebrews 11:25).

Hebrews 11:25, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;”

Proverbs 20:17 tells us that same thing, that the bread of deceit is sweet at first, but brings its bitter rewards at a later date.

Proverbs 20:17, “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.”

This meal is offered to those who refuse to dine with wisdom in Proverbs 9:1-6. This meal is for the fool, though he does not know that it will cause him death. It is interesting to note that Satan is constantly trying to get mankind to seek things without following the divine laws of sowing and reaping. Satan makes people think that they can violate God’s laws and get by with it, but God’s laws work to being judgment as well as blessings.

Note that wisdom invites us to dine on meat and wine, which is the food of a king. When we serve the Lord, He gives us His best. In contrast, the foolish woman can only offer simple bread and water. The world cannot offer us the best because it is not able to match the blessings that God gives His children. Therefore, the strange woman tells us that her meal is pleasant and good. The world packages its meal to look attractive, when in fact, it is simple and unfulfilling. The world calls its meals “stolen” and “sweet” in order to add an appeal to something that lacks appeal. This is deceitful bread and water, and not the water that God gives so we will never thirst again.

Proverbs 9:17 Illustration - As a college student, I attended the University of Florida in central Florida. On day in 1977, on a long trip returning from Miami to Gainesville, we pulled over by the side of the road, ran into an orange grove, and filled the back of the car with stolen oranges. As a youth, it was exciting to have stolen something and eaten it secretly in our apartment back on campus. We even purchased an automatic orange juice squeezer to make orange juice from all of those oranges that we could not eat. It would have been cheaper for us to have gone to the grocery store and bought the orange juice. But the thrill of an adventure was in our hearts, and consuming “stolen waters” was more exciting.

As in the Garden of Eden, the forbidden fruit appears more tasty that the fruit of all of the other trees which were freely given to Adam and Eve.

Proverbs 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Proverbs 9:18 Comments - If we will just go out her back door and look into her backyard, it will be found to be a graveyard and not the paradise of pleasure that she has promised.

Illustration - The billboard along the road in Kampala, Uganda advertises Nile Beer. It shows the picture of a bottle of beer with a pretty girl standing beside it. The idea is to get men to purchase such beer believing that this lifestyle brings pretty girls. The trick is to repackage the offer of “bread and water” so that it appeals to the passions of such men. So, these deceived men go to the nightclubs and drink this beer while looking for such women. Some women attend these nightclubs hoping to find a relationship with a man; but relationships are far from the mind of these men. In the newspaper, an article describes one lady returning home late one night from such a club. She was assaulted outside her home and raped as a result of the men she had been hanging out with at the club. However, this nightclub did not want its named mentioned in the newspaper that described this tragedy, since it will hurt its reputation. This game is played out every day in a society. The “strange woman” markets her goods by repackaging them into an attractive offer, so that her victims do not know that it leads to the depths of hell.

Proverbs 9:18 Illustration - The end of Samson began when he went in to the harlot.

Judges 16:1, “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.”

Conclusion to Proverbs 1:1 to Proverbs 9:18 - Why is this section the longest one in the book of Proverbs? Perhaps the reason lies in the fact that man’s daily walk in wisdom requires him to constantly recognize and hear wisdom’s call in order to make the right decisions each day. In a similar way, the longest section in the book of Ecclesiastes is the section on indoctrination, which lists practical wisdom to fear God (Proverbs 7:1 to Proverbs 11:8), since the underlying theme of the book is the keeping of God’s commandments in the fear of the Lord. Thus, the Preacher takes the time to list these commandments.

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Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Proverbs 9". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/proverbs-9.html. 2013.