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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Proverbs 9

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-6

Pro 9:1-6

Wisdom’s Invitation to All (Proverbs 9:1-6):

"Wisdom hath builded her house; She hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; She hath mingled her wine; She hath also furnished her table: She hath sent forth her maidens; She crieth upon the highest places of the city: (Proverbs 9:1-3). Wisdom has been identified by seven consistent articles. The seven are truth, instruction, knowledge, understanding, prudence, discretion, , and the fear of the Lord. Wisdom, once again, is personified as having a house founded upon seven pillars (she is perfect in every way). A similar story is told in the parable of the marriage feast at Matthew 22:1 ff. The kingdom of God (here wisdom) has prepared a great feast for those of the world to come partake. Diligent preparation is made and the invitations sent out ("she cries upon the highest places of the city") (see also Proverbs 1:20-21; Proverbs 8:1-5).

"Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: As for him that is void of understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat ye of my bread, And drink of the wine which I have mingled. Leave off, ye simple ones, and live; And walk in the way of understanding" (Proverbs 9:4-6). Who are the "simple?" Solomon has precisely identified the "simple" man or woman as:

1. Scoffers who lack prudence and love simplicity (Proverbs 1:4; Proverbs 1:22).

2. They are sluggards [i.e., lazy people who want everything for nothing... opposed to labor and believe that everyone owes them something] (Proverbs 6:6-11).

3. Worthless (Proverbs 6:12)

4. Void of understanding (Proverbs 7:6-8; Proverbs 9:4-6)

5. Fool (Proverbs 8:5)

Wisdom calls upon the simple to turn into her house (like also the harlot calls upon the simple to enter her prepared house for a ruinous death - see Proverbs 7:16 ff). The call is likened unto the admonition of Proverbs 1:22 where the simple are called to leave the life of simplicity and gain life and understanding.

Verses 7-12

Pro 9:7-12

The Mind of the Wise and Foolish (Proverbs 9:7-12):

"He that correcteth a scoffer getteth to himself reviling; And he that reproveth a wicked man getteth himself a blot" (Proverbs 9:7). The "scoffer" (one who ridicules and has disdain for the wise) is identified as a "simple" man or woman (again, see Proverbs 1:22). The wise man who tries to correct the simple will be met with insult, abuse, and scorn. The simple do not want to hear instruction or be told that they are wrong about a matter. The simple are so filled with pride and arrogance that their judgment is clouded with the affairs of this world. Note that the wise man who attempts to correct the scoffer, wicked man, or simple will "get himself a blot." The effects of wisdom being pored upon the simple are often a shame unto the instructor of righteousness. Jesus said, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you" (Matthew 7:6). The apostle Paul warns Timothy the evangelist to "refuse" those who wrangle over words in somewhat of a sick manner because they make it manifest that they truly have no desire for real saving truth (1 Timothy 4:7; 1 Timothy 6:3 ff). Though this be the case Paul also encourages Timothy to preach and rebuke these people until it comes to the point that such men may harm you due to their reprobate ways. Many come to be so irritated at the exposing nature of truth that they lash out at the teacher (see 2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Timothy 4:1-3).

"Reprove not a scoffer, lest he hate thee: Reprove a wise man, and he will love thee. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: Teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning" (Proverbs 9:8-9). To "reprove" another is to shame, reprimand or scold one for their fault. Those of the world only have hatred for the spiritually minded who reprove their error (see John 15:17 ff). The wise are not without fault. Though prudence, discretion, understanding, and knowledge are a way of life they still falter from time to time. When the wise man is shamed or scolded for his transgression he is grateful to the one who corrected him. He is not made angry at the scolding because he has not let arrogance and pride be a way of life. He is humble and knows the value of correction and wisdom. Such a man has been on a quest in this life to obtain wisdom and so he sees such reprimanding as a furtherance of his knowledge and understanding (see Proverbs 4:7; Proverbs 4:13; Proverbs 8:18-19).

"The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of wisdom; And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). The "fear of Jehovah" has been identified as a part of wisdom at Proverbs 8:13. This fear of God has been identically identified as "the beginning of wisdom" at Proverbs 1:7. To this point of our study we have identified the "fear of Jehovah" as:

1. Not being wise in thine own eyes (Proverbs 3:7).

2. Departing from evil (Proverbs 3:7).

3. Hating evil, pride, arrogance, the perverse mouth, and the evil way (Proverbs 8:13).

4. When one gains knowledge of the Holy One then one obtains understanding.

"For by me thy days shall be multiplied, And the years of thy life shall be increased. If thou art wise, thou art wise for thyself; And if thou scoffest, thou alone shalt bear it" (Proverbs 9:11-12). The man or woman of wisdom (i.e., prudence, discretion, knowledge, and understanding) will live longer than the simple because they stay out of trouble. The man of the world is more likely to get himself involved in smoking, doing drugs, hanging around corrupt men, and doing corrupt things (all of which have the power of shortening one’s life... the Billy Joel song, "Only the good die young" had it all wrong!).

Elephaz said, "Can a man be profitable unto God? Surely he that is wise is profitable unto himself" (Job 22:2). When a man chooses a life of wisdom (i.e., prudence, understanding, knowledge, and the fear of God) then he profits himself through experiencing a long life, gaining material security through a diligent work ethic, and most importantly he gains an eternal heavenly home. Life is good to the wise in many ways.

The "scoffer" (the simple sluggard) shall bear the shame that he brings to his life. He will live a life of poverty, always dependant upon others for his means and shelter, and in the end will suffer an eternal existence of torment.

Verses 13-18

Pro 9:13-18

Proverbs 9:13-18

FOLLY ALSO CRIES TO THE SIMPLE; TURN YE IN HITHER

"The foolish woman is clamorous;

She is simple, and knoweth nothing.

And she sitteth at the door of her house,

On a seat in the high places of the city,

To call to them that pass by,

Who go right on their ways:

Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither;

And as for him that is void of understanding, she saith to him,

Stolen waters are sweet,

And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

But he knoweth not that the dead are there;

That her guests are in the depths of Sheol."

This is one of the most impressive chapters in the Bible. It is this picture of the two women, Wisdom and Folly. "The two give the contrast between rectitude and sexual debauchery." Both of them shout their messages from the highest places, inviting the simple ones to "turn in hither." One of these is holy, pure, eternal, righteous and the Great Benefactor of all who heed her cry. The other is unholy, shameless, wicked and seductive, bringing desolation and death to all who follow her, and whose guests are in the depths of the grave. And every man makes his choice of which he shall patronize.

Keil noted that, "Folly is here the incarnation of worldly lust.”

The description of this evil woman stresses her ignorance, noisiness, aggressiveness and persuasiveness. She diligently advocates the sin which she covets.

"She knoweth nothing" (Proverbs 9:13). The text here is a little uncertain, and the RSV reads it, "The woman knows no shame." The literal Hebrew here reads, "The woman of folly is boisterous, simplicity, and knows not what.” "The woman Folly is here regarded as a real person (personified); and between her and Virtue man has to make his choice.”

"Stolen waters are sweet" (Proverbs 9:17). "The secret enjoyment of sexual immorality is here offered by Folly. Her pleasures cannot be experienced in open daylight, but secretly, under the cover of darkness."

Sin, due to the depravity of man, is made more attractive by the very fact of its being prohibited. "Pleasures are attractive because they are forbidden (Romans 7:7); and this is the one great proof of the inherent corruption of human nature.”

"He knoweth not that the dead are there" (Proverbs 9:18). With this warning the long first section of Proverbs (called by Cook the introduction) is brought to a conclusion, and that great collection of separate proverbs for which the book is generally remembered begins at once in Proverbs 10. "Wisdom and Folly have both spoken, and their houses have been realistically painted for us. The learner is now challenged to choose.”

Proverbs 9:13. The “foolish woman” of this and following verses is in contrast to the woman “wisdom” of Proverbs 9:1-6. As this wicked woman has been fully identified in previous sections (Proverbs 2:16-19; Proverbs 5:3-23; Proverbs 6:24-35; Proverbs 7:5-27), this section is speaking of the immoral woman. Our verse says she is “foolish”, “clamorous”, “simple”, and “knoweth nothing”. The Bible has no compliments for the adulteress (or the adulterer). She is “foolish” instead of wise, for it is much wiser to be happily married to a good man than to sell yourself for a few minutes to any man who comes along. She is “clamorous” (boisterous, loud, forward), which was pointed out in Proverbs 7:11-13 wherein she was said not to remain in her house but to get out on the street and aggressively proposition men. She is “simple”, for her trade does not necessitate her to develop her mind, and little is a harlot concerned or involved in the concerns and the involvements of the community. She “knoweth nothing”, for she either doesn’t know or doesn’t care what she is doing, how she is looked upon, what harm she is bringing to the homes and bodies and souls of others, and of what she is robbing herself of and ultimately bringing upon herself.

Proverbs 9:14. She is forward, not bashful, in pushing her trade. She is bold and not ashamed.

Proverbs 9:15. She gets out in the passing crowd and tries to get customers. But thank God, most people have enough sense to keep going “right on their ways” instead of stopping and getting involved with her. Those who do not fall for her are men who have been taught from youth to fear adultery, or who are happily married to good wives and have righteous children at home to whom they are examples, or who have committed themselves to a godly life that even if once guilty of such behavior will have no part in it.

Proverbs 9:16. Anyone who will listen to her and go with her really isn’t any wiser than she was described as being in Proverbs 9:13. She employs the same words as wisdom uses (see Proverbs 9:4); she is going to “educate” the “simple” who are “void of understanding”. They will “learn” all right, but it will be the wrong thing, and the time will come when they will see that they listened to the wrong person: “Thou mourn at thy latter end, When thy flesh and thy body are consumed, And say, How have I hated instruction, And my heart despised reproof; Neither have I obeyed the voice of my teachers, Nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” (Proverbs 5:11-13).

Proverbs 9:17. Hers is an invitation to commit adultery with her. She is referred to as “stolen waters”, for she does not really belong to those who accept her invitation, for is she is married (as in Proverbs 6:29 and as in Proverbs 7:19-20), she belongs to her husband, and if she is unmarried she should belong to and save herself for the man whom she will later marry. God never intended that any woman would be to society like the old town-well of years ago or like the block of stock-salt in the cow pasture. A woman who does not save herself (or a man who does not save himself) for the mate that she (or he) will later marry really does not deserve a pure mate in marriage! It is only a saying that “stolen melons are sweeter”. Why should any man choose the arms and the bosom and the intimacies of an impure, ungodly woman to the sweet and attractive and good wife whom he has personally chosen and shared life with over the years? No, “stolen waters” are not better! Therefore, “drink waters out of thine own cistern, And running waters out of thine own well...Rejoice in the wife of thy youth. As a loving hind and a pleasant doe, Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; And be thou ravished always with her love” (Proverbs 5:15-19).

Proverbs 9:18. The “sweetness” and the “pleasantness” that she promised in Proverbs 9:17 end in “death”—just like all sin. Other passages connecting immorality with death: Proverbs 2:18; Proverbs 7:27. Other passages connecting sin with death: Romans 6:23; James 1:15.

STUDY QUESTIONS - Proverbs 9:13-18

1. The “foolish woman” of Proverbs 9:13 is to be contrasted with what other woman?

2. Is this low-down woman ashamed of herself and her business (Proverbs 9:14)?

3. Are wicked people “evangelistic” for sin (Proverbs 9:15)?

4. Who will get caught by such a wicked woman (Proverbs 9:16)?

5. Do sinners believe what Proverbs 9:17 says?

6. Why does Proverbs 9:18 begin with “but”?

Invitations of Wisdom and Folly - Proverbs 9:1-18

Open It

1. Who are some famous rivals that you know about (for example, Elliot Ness and Al Capone)?

2. Why do people sometimes say, "Ignorance is bliss"?

3. Why do you think some people fall prey to false or deceptive sales tactics?

4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of being naive?

Explore It

5. How did Wisdom build her house? (Proverbs 9:1)

6. What two characteristics are portrayed as rivals? (Proverbs 9:1-18)

7. What three types of people are described in this chapter? (Proverbs 9:1-18)

8. For what did Wisdom prepare? (Proverbs 9:2-5)

9. For whom did Wisdom prepare? (Proverbs 9:2-5)

10. What did Wisdom encourage the simple to do? (Proverbs 9:6)

11. What are the consequences of correcting a mocker? (Proverbs 9:7-8)

12. What are the consequences of instructing a wise or righteous person? (Proverbs 9:7-8)

13. What is the beginning of wisdom? (Proverbs 9:10)

14. What are the consequences of being wise? of being a mocker? (Proverbs 9:12)

15. How did Solomon depict Folly? (Proverbs 9:13-15)

16. What invitation did Folly issue, and to whom did she issue it? (Proverbs 9:16)

17. What did Folly say about water and food? (Proverbs 9:17)

18. What did Solomon say about Folly’s guests? (Proverbs 9:18)

Get It

19. How are Wisdom and Folly different?

20. What do Wisdom and Folly offer their listeners?

21. In what way is it dangerous to be naive?

22. What is true or false about the statement "ignorance is bliss"?

23. What do you find attractive about the invitations of Wisdom and Folly?

24. How can we be careful to avoid Folly’s enticements?

25. Why would stolen water be sweet or food eaten in secret be delicious?

26. Why are forbidden things sometimes appealing?

27. In what ways are the mocker, the simple, and the wise person alike? different?

28. In what way are you like the mocker, the simple, and the wise person?

29. How should we adjust our advice to the person receiving it?

Apply It

30. What is one step you can take today to pursue wisdom rather than folly?

31. What steps can you take this week to eliminate foolish behavior from your life?

32. Who is one person to whom you will turn to help you be more discerning and less naive?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Proverbs 9". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/proverbs-9.html.
 
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