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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, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled: forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
IN the New Testament, parables abound. In the Old Testament, they are comparatively rare. But this comes commended to us by peculiar authority, in that our blessed Lord repeatedly borrowed it, if I may so speak, and adopted it on different occasions, for the elucidating of the truths which he wished to convey [Note: See Matthew 22:1-4.Luke 14:16-17; Luke 14:16-17.]. In order to unfold it to you, I shall notice separately,
The feast prepared—
In the Holy Scriptures, the term “Wisdom” is generally used to signify true religion: but sometimes it is a name given to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is, with good reason, supposed to be characterized by it in the chapter that precedes my text [Note: Proverbs 8:1; Proverbs 8:22-31.], and who, I think, is intended by it in the parable before us. He is “the Wisdom of God [Note: 1 Corinthians 1:24.];” and “in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [Note: Colossians 2:3.]:” and, beyond all doubt, he is the person who, in the parables which he himself has founded on this, both furnishes the feasts and sends forth the invitations [Note: See Notea.].
The banqueting-house is built—
[Solomon elsewhere speaks of a “banqueting-house,” where he had been wont to meet his Saviour [Note: Song of Solomon 2:4.]: and such buildings have been raised by the great and opulent in all ages, for the entertainment of their guests. This edifice, which was built by Wisdom, was supported by “seven pillars;” which I suppose to intimate, that it was constructed with perfect stability, and adorned with the perfection of beauty. And what is this banqueting-house, but the ordinances of divine grace, which are appointed altogether for the setting forth of this feast, and for the accommodation of all who attend upon it? In them there is room for all: and God will not fail, when they are attended as they ought to be, to manifest himself in the midst of them.]
The feast, too, is prepared—
[“The beasts,” the sacrifices, “are killed;” and “the wine,” for the purpose of rendering its flavour more exquisite, is “mingled.” The entertainment is, in reality, a feast upon a sacrifice. And what is that sacrifice on which the whole world may feast, but the sacrifice of Christ, “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world?” Precisely such a feast was the passover, which Hezekiah kept unto the Lord. He kept it for the space of fourteen days; during which time not less than two thousand bullocks and seventeen thousand sheep were sacrificed, and all Judah were feasted [Note: 2 Chronicles 30:22-26.]. But the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Passover, is sacrificed for all, and will afford an ample feast for all, not for a limited time only, but through the endless ages of eternity. As for the wine, which is so essential to a feast, what is that but the consolations of the Spirit, of which all shall partake who eat of this divine repast? For “Christ’s body is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed [Note: John 6:55.]:” and in the ordinances of divine grace, both the one and the other are offered to every child of man. In fact, this is the very feast which the Prophet Isaiah spoke of as to be established under the Christian dispensation: “In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined [Note: Isaiah 25:6.]:” and in the ministration of the gospel is this now set forth more amply than if “all the beasts upon the mountains were slain for us, or the cattle upon a thousand hills.”]
Let me, then, without further delay, announce to you,
The invitation given—
For the preserving of the propriety of the parable, Wisdom, as a Queen, is said to “send forth her maidens.” But Christ, whom wisdom represents, sends forth his Ministers to call men to the feast.
The persons invited are, “the simple, and those who want understanding”—
[This, I grant, is a humiliating description; and it seems to designate the poor only and the ignorant. But, permit me to say, that it comprehends those also who stand the highest in their own estimation for wisdom and prudence. For who, in the whole universe, betray their folly more than those who “seek to fill their belly with the husks that the swine eat of, whilst in their Father’s house they might find bread enough and to spare?” Yet this is the very state to which the learned, no less than the illiterate, reduce themselves, whilst seeking their happiness in the world rather than in God, and in the perishing vanities of time and sense rather than in the substantial blessings of eternity. I appeal to all of you, whether this be not the conduct of all by nature, and whether experience do not prove to all the folly of it? This is well represented in Scripture, as “filling our belly with the east wind [Note: Job 15:2.]:” and I ask of all, whether such conduct do not merit the imputation east upon it in my text? I ask, too, whether, to persons of this character, the invitation be not most fitly sent? You cannot but confess, however successful you may have been in your pursuit of earthly objects, “in the fulness of your sufficiency you have been in straits [Note: Job 20:22.].”]
To you, then, is the invitation given—
[To you, says Wisdom, “Come and eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” Your past conduct has involved you in guilt and misery; both of which shall be removed by partaking of the feast provided for you. The sacrifice of Christ was expressly offered as an atonement for your sins; and if you partake of it in faith, your iniquities shall all be blotted out as a morning cloud. “Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood,” says our blessed Lord, “hath eternal life [Note: John 6:54.]:” yes, he has both a title to it, and the very beginning of it in his soul. As for “the wine that is mingled” for you, not all “the wine in Lebanon” can afford you such consolation and refreshment as the Holy Spirit will to those who receive his gracious communications.
But, of course, you must forsake those habits which you have hitherto indulged, and separate yourselves from those associates who would divert you from Wisdom’s ways. For, “what fellowship can righteousness have with unrighteousness, or what communion can light have with darkness? There is a necessity for you to come out from the ungodly and be separate, if you would have God for your father, and enjoy the privilege of his sons and daughters [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.].” The whole course of your life must be changed: you must not only “forsake the foolish,” but “go also in the way of understanding,” approving yourselves worthy disciples of our blessed Lord. In fact, your whole taste must be changed: you cannot “savour the things of the flesh and of the Spirit” too [Note: Romans 8:5.]: “you cannot serve God and Mammon” too [Note: Matthew 6:24.]; or “be the friends of the world and of Jehovah” too [Note: James 4:4.]. If you come to the Gospel-feast, you must “affect only the things which are above [Note: Colossians 3:1-2.],” on which you shall “feast in the presence of your God for ever and ever [Note: Matthew 26:29.].”]
[Let me now address myself to you, my beloved Brethren. I am sent as Wisdom’s servant, as the minister of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, with a message of mercy to every one of you. And let it not be offensive to you to be addressed under the character of those who are here invited. You surely will not deny, that you have sought your happiness in the world, rather than in God. Even though you were the greatest philosophers in the universe, this charge would be as applicable to you as to the meanest of mankind. And, if at this present moment you feel averse to range yourselves under the humiliating term here accorded to you, be assured the time is not far distant when you will designate yourselves by this name with bitter emphasis, and, contrasting yourselves with the Lord’s guests, will exclaim, “We fools, counted their life madness, and their end to be without honour: but how are they numbered with the children of God, and their lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth [Note: Wisd. 5:4–6.].” Let me entreat you now to humble yourselves before God, and to welcome, as especially suited to your state, the invitation which I now bring you. But that I may be sure to address you in Wisdom’s own words, I will adopt the language of an inspired prophet: “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? (Here are proofs enough of your folly.) 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 [Note: Isaiah 55:1-3.].” You will find, at the close of the chapter from whence my text is taken, that folly also has her messengers: A foolish and abandoned woman will cry, “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: for stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hell [Note: ver. 13–18.].” Yes, these invitations are soon and widely followed; whilst the invitations of Wisdom are scornfully rejected. Truly this is greatly to be lamented; and bitter will be the consequences to those who persist in their folly. Accept the invitations that are gratifying to flesh and blood, and nothing but everlasting destruction awaits you: but accept that which now in Wisdom’s name I deliver, and you shall “live:” “forsake the foolish, and live.” Fain would I prevail with you, my Brethren, ere it be too late, and the door of her banqueting-house be shut against you. I have it in commission to “compel you to come in [Note: Luke 14:23.].” O, resist me not, but let me by holy importunity prevail; that so the blessings of salvation may be yours, when the contemners of our message are wailing in everlasting darkness and despair.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Proverbs 9". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent