Fifteenth admonitory discourse, containing in a parabolic form an invitation of
Wisdom (vs. 1-12), and that of her rival Folly (vs. 13-18). The chapter sums up
in brief the warnings of the preceding part.
1 “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven
pillars:” Wisdom was represented as having a house at whose portals
persons waited eagerly for admission (ch.8:34; It ought to be like camping
all night in line for
2013); the idea is further carried on. Wisdom hath builded her house.
(For the plural form of khochmoth, “wisdom,” a plural of excellency, see on c
h.1:20.) As the “strange woman” in ch. 7. possessed a house to which she
seduced her victim, so Wisdom is represented as having a house which she has
made and adorned, and to which she invites her pupils. Spiritual writers see
here two references — one to Christ’s incarnation, when He built for
Himself a human body (John 2:19); and another to His work in forming
the Church, which is His mystical body (I Peter 2:5). And the sublime
language used in this section is not satisfied with the bare notion that we
have here only an allegorical representation of Wisdom calling followers to
her. Rather we are constrained to see a Divine intimation of the office and
work of Christ, not only the Creator of the world, as in ch. 8., but its
Regenerator. She hath hewn out her seven pillars. The number seven
Generally denotes perfection; it is the covenant number, expressive of harmony
and unity generally, the signature of holiness and blessing, completeness
and rest. So in the Apocalypse the whole Church is represented by the number
of seven Churches (Revelation 1:4, etc.; see on ch.26:16). Wisdom’s house is
said to be thus founded because of its perfection and adaptability to all states
of men. But doubtless there is a reference to the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which rested upon the Christ (Isaiah 11:2-5), and which are the support and
strength of the Church, being symbolized by the seven-branched candlestick in
2 “She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath
also furnished her table.” She hath killed her beasts. So in the parable of the
marriage of the king’s son (Matthew 22:1-14, which is parallel to the present), the
king sends his servants to notify the guests that the oxen and fatlings are killed,
and all things are ready. Wisdom has stores of nourishment for
understanding and affection; and Christ has offered Himself as a Victim in
our behalf, and now makes bounteous offers of grace, and especially has
ordained the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for the strengthening and
refreshing of the soul. She hath mingled her wine; Septuagint, “She hath
mixed (ejke>rasen – ekerasen) her wine in a bowl.” The wine which,
untempered, was too luscious or too fiery to drink, was made palatable by a
certain admixture of water, it was always so mixed at the Passover; and the
ancient Christian Liturgies direct the mixture in the celebration of the Holy
Eucharist, doubtless from traditional use. Some, however, think that
allusion is here made to the custom of adding drugs to wine in order to
increase its potency. Among the Greeks, a]kratov oi+nov – akratos
oinos - meant “wine without water,” and in Revelation 14:10 we have
a]kraton kekerasme>non – akraton kekerasmenon - undiluted wine mixed
And probably in the text the notion is that the fluid for the guests’ delectation is
properly prepared, that there may be no trouble when they arrive (see on ch.
23:30). She hath also furnished her table, by arranging the dishes, etc., thereon
(Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me,” where the same verb,
arak, is used; compare Isaiah 21:5). Moralizing on this passage, St.
Gregory says, “The Lord ‘killed the sacrifices’ by offering Himself on our
behalf. He ‘mingled the wine,’ blending together the cup of his precepts
from the historical narration and the spiritual signification. And He ‘set
forth His table,’ i.e. Holy Writ, which with the bread of the Word refreshes
us when we are wearied and come to Him away from the burdens of the
world, and by its effect of refreshing strengthens us against our
adversaries” (‘Moral,’ 17:43,
3 “She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places
of the city,” She hath sent forth her maidens, as in Matthew 22:3, to
call them that were bidden to the feast. The Septuagint has tou<v eJauth~v
dou>louv - tous heautaes doulous - her servants, but the Authorized Version
is correct, and feminine attendants are in strict harmony with the rest of the
apologue. By them are represented the apostles and preachers and ministers,
who go forth to win souls for Christ. She crieth upon the highest places
of the city, where her voice could best be heard, as in ch.8:2; Matthew 10:27.
She is not satisfied with delegating her message to others; she delivers it
Here follows (vs. 4-12) the invitation of Wisdom, urging the attendance of guests
at the sumptuous banquet which she has prepared (compare Revelation 19:9).
4 “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him,” Whose is simple, let him turn in hither.
This is a direct address to the imprudent and inexperienced (see on ch.7:7),
calling them to turn aside from the way on which they are going, and to
come to her. Vulgate, si quis est parvulus veniat ad me, which reminds one
of Christ’s tender words, “It is not the will of your Father which is in
heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).
As for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him what follows
(so v. 16). Wisdom’s own speech is interrupted, and the writer himself
introduces this little clause. She calls on the simple and the unwise, both as
necessarily needing her teaching, and not yet inveterate in evil, nor willfully
opposed to better guidance. “The world by wisdom knew not God” and He
“hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the
weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty, and base
things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen”
(I Corinthians 1:21, 26, etc.; compare Matthew 11:25).
5 “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have
mingled.” Come, eat ye of my bread. Wisdom now directly addresses the
simple and the foolish (compare Revelation 22:17). And drink of the
wine which I have mingled (see on v. 2). Bread and wine represent all
needful nourishment, as flesh and wine in v. 2. So Christ says (John 6:51),
“I am the living Bread which came down from heaven… and the
bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the
world.” Compare the invitation in Isaiah 55:1, “Ho, every one that
thirsteth!” etc. The Fathers see here a prophecy of the gospel feast,
wherein Christ gave and gives bread and wine as symbols of His presence
The Banquet of Wisdom (vs. 1-5)
Ø It is substantial. A house, not a mere tent. The feast of wisdom is no
brief repast, rarely enjoyed, It is a lasting delight, a frequent refreshment
Ø It is magnificent. Seven pillars are hewn out for the house. It is fitting
that the house of God should be more beautiful than a man’s dwelling. He
who enters into the habitation of God’s thoughts will find it beautiful and
glorious. There is nothing average about Divine truth. It is all large, noble,
magnificent. He who comes into communion with it will find himself in no
poor hovel. He will be in a palace of splendor, with which the material
grandeur of marble columns, delicate tracery, etc., cannot compare.
· THE PROVISION. Rich and abundant — slaughtered beasts, spiced
wine, a well furnished table. Nothing looks more sordid than poor fare in
splendid apartments. This shall not be seen in the house of Divine wisdom,
but, on the contrary, enough for all, and that of the best quality. No
thoughts are so full nor so rich as the thoughts of revelation. There is
variety here as in the viands of the banquet. And “all things are ready”
(Matthew 22:4). The table is spread. It waits for the guests. While we are
praying for light, the light is shining about us. God has revealed His truth.
Christ, the Light of the world, has appeared among us. The feast of
the truths of the glorious gospel of the blessed God is READY FOR
ALL who will come and share in its bounties.
· THE INVITATION. The maidens are sent forth — not one, but many
— that the message may go to all quarters. They cry in the highest places
of the city, that the message may have the greatest publicity, may spread
over the widest area, may reach all classes. This is the character of the call
of God to us in His truth. He seeks us before we seek Him. (While we were
yet sinners, Christ died for us! – Romans 5:8). He has already
sought us. The gospel is preached, proclaimed as by heralds; and this
gospel contains the invitation to the rich banquet of Divine truth.
(The following picture is of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in
Revelation 19:9 but is applicable here – CY – 2013)
· THE GUESTS. “The simple;” “him that lacketh understanding.” So in
our Lord’s parable, “the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind”
are called (Luke 14:21). The whole need not the physician; the full
need not the feast. They who are satisfied with their own knowledge will
not sit humbly at the feet of a Divine revelation. It is they who feel
themselves to be foolish, who acknowledge their ignorance and grope
dimly after the light, who will be able to enjoy the banquet of wisdom; and
these people are specially invited. The heathen, the illiterate, the weak-
minded, are all called to receive the saving truth of Christ.
· THE SATISFACTION. “Eat of my bread, and drink of the wine,” etc.
Ø Divine truth is nourishing. “By every word that proceedeth
out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live” (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Christ, the “Word,” is the Bread of life. (John 6:48-58).
Ø Divine truth is a source of joy. At the banquet there is wine that
maketh glad the heart of man. The gospel offers no prison fare.
It kills the fatted beast. It gives wine — spiced wine, things of pleasure
and luxury. (“And in this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make
unto all people a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of
marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.” – Isaiah 25:6)
Yet the pleasure is not enervating; the gospel wine is not harmfully
intoxicating. How much better this banquet than the injurious and
less gratifying feast of folly! (vs. 13-18)
6 “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”
Forsake the foolish, and live; Vulgate, relinquite infantiam; Septuagint,
ajpolei>pete ajfrosu>nhn – apoleipete aphrosunaen - leave folly. These
versions take the plural μyait;p] (petaim) as equivalent to an abstract noun,
which gives a good sense; but the plural is not so used in our book, so we must
admit the rendering of the Authorized Version, “Quit the class, give up being of the
category of fools,” or else we must take the word as vocative, “Leave off,
ye simple ones” (Revised Version), i.e. quit your simplicity, your folly. And
live (see on ch.4:4). It is not a mere prosperous life on earth that
is here promised, but something far higher and better (John 6:51, “If
any man eat of this bread, he shall LIVE FOR EVER!). The Septuagint
saw something of this when they paraphrased the clause, “Leave ye folly, that
ye may reign forever.” Go in the way of understanding. Leaving folly, stay
not, but make real progress in the direction of wisdom. Septuagint, “Seek ye
prudence, and direct understanding by knowledge.”
The Divine Invitation (vs. 1-6)
Wisdom invites the sons of men to a feast. Christ, “the Wisdom of God,” is
inviting us all to partake of ETERNAL LIFE! A feast may well be regarded as
the picture and type of life at its fullest. (See Isaiah 25:6-9). It combines so many
of the best features of human life — bounty generously offered and graciously
accepted, nourishment, enjoyment, social intercourse, intellectual and
spiritual as well as bodily gratification. In the gospel of Christ there is
offered to us life at its very fullest — Divine, eternal. We are invited by
Eternal Wisdom to partake thereof, to “lay hold” thereupon. These verses
suggest to us:
· THE COMPLETENESS OF THE DIVINE PREPARATION. (vs.1-2).
The house is built, the full number of pillars hewn, the beasts killed, the
wine mingled, the table set out. Everything is arranged and executed;
nothing is forgotten or omitted. (“What could have been done more to
my vineyard, that I have not done in it? – Isaiah 5:4). Every guest will
find that which he needs. How complete is the preparation which God
has made for us in the gospel of grace and life! (He even took care of that
before He made the worlds! – Revelation 13:8). The whole of the Old
Testament may be said to be a part of the history of His preparation. All His
dealings with His ancient people, and His control of the heathen nations,
were leading up to the one great issue — the redemption of mankind
BY A LIFE-GIVING SAVIOUR! The New Testament continues
the same account:
Ø the birth,
Ø the ministry,
Ø the life,
Ø the sorrows,
Ø the death,
Ø the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ,
Ø the evangelizing work and
Ø the interpretive letters of the apostles,
form the last part of the Divine preparation. And NOW EVERYTHING
Ø The house is built,
Ø the table is spread, and
Ø the wine outpoured.
There is nothing which a guilty, sorrowing, striving, seeking soul
can hunger or thirst for which it will not find at this heavenly feast.
Ø full reconciliation,
Ø unfailing friendship,
Ø joy in God,
Ø everlasting life,
EVERYTHING IS THERE!
· THE GRACIOUSNESS OF THE INVITATION. (vs. 3-4.)
Wisdom sends “her maidens” and “cries upon the highest places of the
city.” She charges those to speak who are likeliest to be listened to, and to
utter her invitation where it is surest to be heard. Moreover, she does not
restrict her call to those who may be said to be her own children
(Matthew 11:19); on the other hand, she addresses herself specially to
those who are strange to her, to “the simple,” to “him that wanteth
understanding,” In the gospel of the grace of God:
Ø It is the gracious Lord Himself who speaks to us, and in the most
winning way. It is He Himself who says, “Come unto me;”
(Matthew 11:28), “If any man thirst,” (Revelation 22:17),
“I am the Bread of life,” (John 6:48).
Ø He has, in His providence and grace, caused the message of
mercy to be sounded where all can hear it — “upon the
highest places of the city.”
Ø He calls all men to His bountiful board, specially those who are in
the greatest need (Luke 14:21-23; Matthew 9:12-13).
· THE CHARACTER OF THE MESSAGE. (vs. 5-6.) Wisdom calls
those who hear her messengers to forsake folly, to walk in righteousness,
and thus to enter into life. The Wisdom of God Himself calls those who
hear His voice to:
Ø Turn from their iniquity, turning away from the fellowship of the
unholy as well as from the practice of sin.
Ø Enter into closest fellowship with Him Himself; thus eating
of the bread and drinking of the water of life; thus walking in
the way of truth, holiness, love, wisdom; thus “going in the way
Ø Partake with Him the life which is DIVINE AND ETERNAL:
o life for God,
o life in God, and
o life with God forever!
Verses 7-10 form a parenthesis, showing why Wisdom addresses only the
simple and foolish. She giveth not that which is holy unto dogs, nor casteth pearls
before swine (Matthew 7:6).
7 “He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that
rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.” He that reproveth a scorner
getteth to himself shame. He who tries to correct a scorner (see on ch.1:22 and
3:34), one who derides religion, loses his pains and meets with ribald mockery and
insult. It is not the fault of messengers or message that this should be, but
the hardness of heart and the pride of the hearer make him despise the
teaching and hate the teacher (Matthew 24:9). He that rebuketh a
wicked man getteth himself a blot; rather, he that reproveth a sinner, it
is his blot. Such a proceeding results in disgrace to himself. This is not said
to discourage the virtuous from reproving transgressors, but states the
effect which experience proves to occur in such cases. Prudence, caution,
and tact are needed in dealing with these characters. Evil men regard the
reprover as A PERSONAL ENEMY and treat him with contumely, and hence
arise unseemly bickerings and disputes, injurious words and deeds. To have
wasted teaching on such unreceptive and antagonistic natures is a shameful
expenditure of power. St. Gregory thus explains this matter: “It generally
happens that when they cannot defend the evils that are reproved in them,
they are rendered worse from a feeling of shame, and carry themselves so
high in their defense of themselves, that they take out bad points to urge
against the life of the reprover, and so they do not account themselves
guilty, if they fasten guilty deeds upon the heads of others also. And when
they are unable to find true ones, they feign them, that they may also
themselves have things they may seem to rebuke with no inferior degree of
justice” (‘Moral.,’ 10:3,
8 “Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he
will love thee.” Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee (see the last note,
and compare 15:12, and note there). There are times when
reproof only hardens and exasperates. “It is not proper,” says St. Gregory,
“for the good man to fear lest the scorner should utter abuse at him when
he is chidden, but lest, being drawn into hatred, he should be made worse”
(‘Moral.,’ 8:67). “Bad men sometimes we spare, and not ourselves, if from
the love of those we cease from the rebuking of them. Whence it is needful
that we sometimes endure keeping to ourselves what they are, in order that
they may learn in us by our good living what they are not” (ibid., 20:47,
“Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness: and let him
reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head:
for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” (compare ch.19:25;
Reproof (v. 8)
· HOW TO GIVE REPROOF. The duty of reproving is one of the most
difficult and delicate ever attempted. The people who are most rash in
adventuring upon it too often fall into the greatest blunders, while those
who are really fitted to undertake it shrink from the attempt. The mere
utterance of a protest is generally worse than useless. It only raises anger
and provokes to greater obstinacy. Unless there is some probability of
convincing a man of the wrongness of his conduct, there is little good in
administering rebukes to him. It is not the duty of any man to raise up
enemies without cause. We should all seek, as far as in us lies, to live
peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18). Of course, it may be incumbent upon
us sometimes so to act that we shall provoke opposition. Jesus Christ could have
avoided the enmity of the Jews, but only by unfaithfulness to His mission.
Where we are in the way of our mission, or when any duty will be accomplished
Or any good done, we must not shrink from rousing antagonism. To do so is
cowardice, not peaceableness. But if no good is done, we may only bring a
nest of hornets about our heads by our indiscretion. Let us understand that
while we are never to sanction evil doing, we are only called to rebuke it
when the rebuke will not be certainly rejected; then we must risk insult for
the sake of righteousness. The practical point, then. is that we consider the
character of a man before attempting to rebuke him, and that we be not so
anxious to protest against sin as to counsel the sinner and guide him to
better ways. If he is in a hard, scornful mood, we had better wait for a
more fitting opportunity. If he is too strong for us, we shall only injure the
cause of right by attempting to grapple with him. Weak champions of
Christianity have often only hurt themselves, discredited their cause, and
afforded a triumph to powerful opponents by their rash encounters. In all
cases to reprove well requires wisdom, tact, simplicity, humanity.
Paul said “the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle
unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness intructing those
that oppose themselves” (II Timothy 2:24-25) and to speak “the
truth in love.” (Ephesians 2:15)
· HOW TO RECEIVE REPROOF. He who hates the reprover will
become himself a scorner; the wise man will love the reprover. Our manner
of accepting merited reproof will therefore be a test of our character. Thus
viewed, may not the text class many of us with the scorners, though we
had little suspected where our true place was to be found? It is too
common for a man to reject all reproof with rage. Not inquiring whether
the accusation is true, he unjustly regards it as an attack upon himself, as a
personal insult. There may be fault with the reprover — very often there is.
But a wise man will not shelter himself behind that. Granting that the
method of reproof was unwise, harsh, offensive; still, was there no ground
for any reproof? To be angry at all reproof is to be one of the worst of
scorners — to scorn right and truth. For the conscientious man will not
dare to reject appeals to his conscience; he will feel bound to listen to
them, no matter how unwelcome the voice that speaks them. He will desire
to be free from faults. Should he not, therefore, thank those people who
show them to him? If he loves goodness, he ought to love those whose
advice will help him to remove the greatest hindrances to attaining it. If he
hates sin as the disease of his soul, he should accept reproof as medicine,
and treat the reprover as a valuable physician.
9 “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a
just man, and he will increase in learning.” Give instruction to a wise man,
and he will be yet wiser. The Hebrew is merely “give to the wise,” with no
object mentioned; but the context suggests “instruction,” even though, as in v. 8,
it takes the form of rebuke. Vulgate and Septuagint, “Give an opportunity to a
wise man, and he will be wiser” (compare Matthew 13:12; 25:29). To make the
best use of all occasions of learning duty, whether they present themselves in a
winning or a forbidden shape, is the part of one who is wise unto salvation
(see ch.1:5, and note there). Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
Wisdom being a moral and not merely an intellectual, quality. there is a natural
interchange of “wise” and “just,” referring to the same individual, in the two clauses.
Vulgate, festinabit accipere; Septuagint, “Instruct a wise man, and he shall have
more given him.” The wise are thus rewarded with larger measures of wisdom,
because they are simple, humble, and willing to learn, having that childlike spirit
which Christ commends (Matthew 18:3; 25:29).
An Open Mind (v. 9)
(Here is my first chance to validate or heap scorn upon the advice given under
the heading Reproof on v. 8 above – The contrast of a narrow mind with an
open one – Around 1960, in
but the United States of
University. They came home telling the things which were taught which were
at odds with the teachings of the Bible – mainly this was over Darwinism – later,
human sexuality in a amoral setting was championed and many other ideas of
the Progressive Movement espoused. When the parents and students complained,
the professors called my friends narrow minded and encouraged them to open up.
Now a half century later, there is a great push to institutionalize this so-called
in the new science guidelines for teaching students in
schools in the 21st Century. [In fact, there was a huge article in the Courier-Journal
yesterday, August 11, 2013 which basically smeared the name of anyone who
opposed the radical agenda of national guidelines of American education, as they
filter down to
pseudo-intelligentsia of this age so I will say as inoffensively as I can, IT IS
OBVIOUS THAT ME AND MY COUNTRY HICK FRIENDS DID NOT,
AND DO NOT, HAVE THE ONLY LOCK OR THE KEY, TO “NARROW
MINDEDNESS” - CY – 2013). There are two classes of minds that seem to
be armor proof against the invasion of new light. One contains those people who,
to use the phraseology of the Roman Catholic Church, are in a state of
“INVINCIBLE IGNORANCE.” The other contains the much more
numerous people who know just enough to feel a pride of superiority to
their fellows, and who wrap themselves up in the infallibility of self-conceit.
To these persons Pope’s often misapplied maxim may be fairly appropriated –
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring.”
The truly wise man will be the first to see the limits of his knowledge and
the infinite night of ignorance with which the little spot of light that he has
as yet gained is surrounded. Having drunk of the wells of truth (At 70
years of age, I have long realized that God is abundant in goodness, but He
revealed Himself to Moses, not only as being abundant in goodness but
ALSO ABUNDANT IN TRUTH! (Exodus 34:6), he will
have found his thirst not slaked, but stimulated; he will be a philosopher, a
lover of wisdom. Such a man will have an open mind.
· CONSIDER THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AN OPEN MIND.
Ø It is not an empty mind. A man may be prepared to receive fresh
light without abandoning the light he already possesses. The seeker
after truth need not be a skeptic. There may be many things clearly
seen and firmly grasped in the mind of one who is ready to
welcome all new truth.
Ø It is not a weak mind. If a man is not a bigot, he need not be like a
shuttlecock, driven about by every wind of doctrine. He will sift
truth. He will consider new ideas calmly, impartially, judicially.
Ø An open mind is willing to receive truth from any quarter. It may
come from a despised teacher, from a rival, from an enemy. The
open mind will not exclaim, “Can any good thing come out of
Ø An open mind is ready to receive unpleasant truth. The new light may
threaten to interfere with the vested interests of ancient beliefs, it may
expose the folly of long cherished crotchets, it may unsettle much of
one’s established convictions, it may reveal truths which are themselves
unpalatable, or it may wound our pride by exposing our errors. Still,
the open mind will receive it on one condition — that it is genuine truth.
Ø Such characteristics must be based on wisdom and justice. It is the wise
man and the just who is ready to receive instruction. No small amount of
practical wisdom is requisite for the discernment of truth amidst the
distractions of prejudice. Justice is a more important characteristic.
Indeed, it is one of the fundamental conditions of truth seeking. Science
and philosophy would progress more rapidly, and theology would be less
confused by the conflicts of bitter sectaries, if men could but learn to be
fair to other inquirers, and to take no exaggerated views of the importance
of their own notions.
Ø The open mind will attain most truth. Truth is practically infinite. But
our knowledge of it varies according as we are able to attain to a large
and yet a discriminating receptivity. To the nut its shell is its universe.
The man who locks himself up in the dungeon of prejudice will never
see anything but his own prison walls. (Hopefully, it is not hell – CY –
Ø Every attainment in knowledge prepares the way for receiving more
knowledge. It intensifies the desire of possessing truth. Thus the inquirer
may say —
“The wish to know — that endless thirst,
Which ev’n by quenching is awak’d,
And which becomes or blest or curst
As is the fount whereat ‘tis slak’d —
Still urged me onward, with desire
Insatiate, to explore, inquire.”
But not only is the thirst thus stimulated. Future knowledge grows upon
past experience. Knowledge is not an endless level plain, to reach one
district of which we must leave another. It is more like a great building,
and as we rise from story to story, we gain new treasures by mounting on
those previously possessed. The more we know, the easier is it to increase
knowledge. This applies to religious as well as to secular things. Prophets
and devout people were the first to welcome the advent of the Light of the
world (see Luke 2:25-38). The more the Christian knows, the more
wilt he be able to see of new spiritual truths. Thus he will come to
welcome instruction with thankfulness.
10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the
knowledge of the holy is understanding.” Wisdom returns to the first apothegm
and principle of the whole book (ch.1:7). Without the fear of God NO
TEACHING IS OF ANY AVAIL! The knowledge of the holy is
understanding. The word translated “the holy” is μyvidq], a plural of excellence
(see on ch.30:3) like Elohim, and equivalent to “the Most Holy One,” Jehovah,
to which it answers in the first hemistich. God is called “Holy, holy, holy”
(Isaiah 6:3), in His threefold nature, and as MAJESTIC BEYOND
EXPRESSION! The only knowledge worth having, and which is of avail for
the practical purposes of life, is THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD! (see on
ch.2:5). Septuagint, “The counsel of the holy (aJgi>wn – hagion - holy) is
understanding,” with the explanatory clause; “for to know the Law is the
character of good thought.” (O, How foolish are those who reject this good
thought and prevent others from the discovery – a la – ACLU and the
citizenry of the
11:3; Matthew 18:6 – CY – 2013). This occurs again at ch.13:15,
though in the Hebrew in neither place.
11 “For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life
shall be increased.” The parenthetical explanation being concluded, in which
Wisdom has intimated why it is useless to appeal to the scorner and the
willful sinner, she now resumes the direct address interrupted at v. 7,
presenting a forcible reason for the advice given in v. 6, though there is
still some connection with v. 10, as it is from the wisdom that comes
from THE FEAR OF THE LORD THAT THE BLESSINGS NOW
MENTIONED SPRING! For by me thy days shall be multiplied
(see ch. 3:2, 16; 4:10, where long life is promised as a reward for the
possession and practice of wisdom). The same result is attributed to the fear
of God (ch.10:27; 14:27). In v. 6 the address is in the plural; here it is
singular. A similar interchange is found in ch.5:7-8 (where see note).
12 “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest,
thou alone shalt bear it.” If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself.
A transition verse. Wisdom will bring thee good; as thou hast labored well, so will
Be thy reward (I Corinthians 3:8). The Septuagint (Syriac and Arabic), with the
idea of perfecting the antithesis, adds, kai< toi~v plhsi>on - kai tois plaesion –
“My son, if thou art wise for thyself, thou shalt be wise also for thy neighbors” —
which contains the great truth that good gifts should not be selfishly
enjoyed, but used and dispensed for the advantage of others (Galatians 6:6).
In support of our text we may quote Job 22:2, “Can a man be
profitable unto God? Surely he that is wise is profitable unto himself.”
But if thou scornest, thou alone shalt hear it; i.e. atone for it, bear the sin,
as it is expressed in Numbers 9:13, “For every man shall bear his own
burden” (Galatians 6:5). Thus Wisdom ends her exhortation.
Septuagint, “If thou turn out evil, thou alone shalt bear (ajntlh>seiv – antlaeseis )
evils.” And then is added the following paragraph, which may possibly be
derived from a Hebrew original, but seems more like a congeries made up
from other passages, and foisted by some means into the Greek text: “He
that stayeth himself on lies shepherdeth winds, and himself pursueth flying
birds; for he hath left the ways of his own vineyard, and hath gone astray
with the wheels of his own husbandry; and he goeth through a waterless
desert, and over a land set in thirsty places, and with his hands he gathereth
This last section (vs. 13-18) contains the invitation of Folly, the rival of
Wisdom, represented under the guise of an adulteress (ch. 2:16; 5:3-12;
13 “A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.”
A foolish woman; literally, the woman of folly, the genitive
being that of apposition, so that this may well be rendered, in order to
make the contrast with Wisdom more marked, “the woman Folly.” She is
regarded as a real person; and between her and Virtue MAN HAS
TO MAKE HIS CHOICE! Is clamorous; turbulent and animated by
passion (as ch.7:11), quite different from her calm, dignified rival. She is simple;
Hebrew, “simplicity,” in a bad sense; she has no preservative against evil,
no moral fiber to resist temptation. And knoweth nothing WHICH SHE
OUGHT TO KNOW! IGNORANCE is the natural accompaniment of
FOLLY: in this case it is willful and persistent; she goes on her way reckless
of consequences. Septuagint, “A woman foolish and bold, who knows not shame,
comes to want a morsel.”
14 “For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places
of the city,” She sitteth at the door of her house. She, like Wisdom, has a
house of her own, and imitates her in inviting guests to enter. She does not
send forth her maidens; she does not stand in the streets and proclaim her
mission. Vice has an easier task; all she has to do is to sit and beckon and
use a few seductive words. Her house is not supported by seven pillars,
built on the grace of God and upheld by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. like
that of Wisdom (v. 1); it is an ordinary habitation of no stately
proportions. but its meanness impedes not the uses to which she puts it, her
own charms causing her victims to DISREGARD HER ENVIRONMENTS!
On a seat in the high pluses of the city. Her house is in the highest and most
conspicuous part of the city, and she sits before her door in reckless
immodesty, plying her shameful trade (compare Genesis 38:14; Jeremiah 3:2).
The mimicry of her rival again appears, for Wisdom “crieth upon the highest
places of the city” (v. 3).
15 “To call passengers who go right on their ways:” With
shameless effrontery she cries to all that pass by, she addresses her
solicitations to persons who are going straight on their way, thinking
nothing of her, having no idea of deviating from their pursued object. As
they walk in the path of right and duty, SHE TRIES TO TURN
THEM ASIDE! Septuagint, “Calling to herself (proskaloume>nh –
proskaloumenae) those that pass by and are keeping straight in their ways.”
The Fathers find here a picture of the seductions of heretical teaching, which
puts on the mask of orthodoxy and deceives the unwary. Wordsworth notes
that, in the Apocalypse, the false teacher bears some emblems of the Lamb
(Revelation 13:11). All false doctrine retains some element of truth, and it is
because of this admixture that it procures adherents and thrives for a time.
These next two verses (16-17) contain the invitation which Vice, in
imitation of Virtue, and assuming her voice and manner, offers to the
16 “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him,” Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.
She uses the very same words which Wisdom utters (v. 4). The latter had
addressed the simple because they were inexperienced and undecided, and might
be guided aright; the former now speaks to them because they have not yet
made their final choice, can still be swayed by lower considerations, and
may be led astray. Such persons find it hard to distinguish between the
good and the evil, the false and the true, especially when THEIR
SENSUAL APPETITE IS AROUSED AND SIDES WITH THE
TEMPTRESS! No marvel is it that such are easily deceived; for we are
told that, under certain circumstances, Satan transforms himself into an
angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). That wanteth understanding. This
is the other class addressed by Wisdom, and which Folly now solicits,
urging them to follow her on the path of pleasure, promising sensual
enjoyment and security and “knoweth not that the dead are there; and
that her guests are in the depths of hell.” (v. 18).
17 “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
The metaphor of “stolen waters” refers primarily to adulterous intercourse,
as to “drink waters out of one’s own cistern” (ch.5:15, where see note)
signifies the chaste connection of lawful wedlock. Wisdom offered flesh
and wine to her guests; Folly offers bread and water. Wisdom invites
openly to a well furnished table; Folly calls to a secret meal of barest victuals.
What the former offers is rich and satisfying and comforting; what Vice gives
is poor and mean and insipid. Yet this latter has the charm of being forbidden;
it is attractive because it is unlawful. (“Hath God said?” – Genesis 3:1).
This is a trait of corrupt human nature, which is recognized universally.
Things easily attained, the possession of which is gotten without effort or
danger or breach of restraint, soon pall and cease to charm. To some minds
the astuteness and secrecy required for success have an irresistible
companions committed a theft, not from want and poverty, nor even from
the wish to enjoy what was stolen, but simply for the pleasure of thieving
and the sin. They robbed a pear tree by night, carried off great loads, which
they flung to the pigs, and their only satisfaction was that they were doing
what they ought not (“dum tamen fieret a nobis, quod eo liberet quo non
liceret”). Septuagint, “Taste ye to your pleasure secret bread, and sweet
water of theft.” Where water is a precious commodity, as in many parts of
with their neighbor’s tank when they could do so undetected, thus sparing
their own resources and felicitating themselves on their cleverness. On the
metaphorical use of “waters” in Holy Scripture, St. Gregory says, “Waters
are sometimes wont to denote the Holy Spirit, sometimes sacred
knowledge, sometimes calamity, sometimes drifting peoples, sometimes the
minds of those following the faith.” He refers to these texts respectively:
John 7:38-39; Psalm 69:1; Revelation 17:15 (“the waters are peoples”);
Isaiah 32:20; and he adds, “By water likewise bad knowledge is wont to be
designated, as when the woman in Solomon, who bears the type of heresy,
charms with crafty persuasion, saying, ‘Stolen waters are sweet’” (‘Moral.,’ 19:9).
Stolen Waters (v. 17)
A fatal fascination, arising out of its very lawlessness, attaches itself to sin.
Illicit pleasures are doubly attractive just because they are illicit. Let us
consider the secret of these evil charms.
which we do not care to have so long as they are within our reach, but
which are clothed with a sudden attractiveness when directly they are shut
out from us. If we see a notice, “Trespassers will be prosecuted,” we feel an
irritating restraint, although we have had no previous desire to enter the
path that it blocks. Innumerable fruits grew in Eden, but the one forbidden
fruit excited the greatest longing of appetite. Advertisers sometimes head
their placards with the words, “Don’t read this!” — judging that to be the
best way to call attention to them. If you say, “Don’t look!” everybody is
most anxious to look. To put a book in an index expurgatorius (censored)
is the surest means of advertising it.
value little what we can buy cheaply. Rarity raises prices. If we have been
to great labor and have run heavy risks in obtaining anything, we are
inclined to measure the worth of it by what it has cost us. Many designs of
sin are only achieved with great difficulty. They involve terrible dangers.
When once accomplished, they are the more valued for this. The
pleasures of adventure, the Englishman’s peculiar delights of the chase,
are enlisted in the cause of wickedness.
“All things that are,
Are with more spirit chased than enjoyed.”
end in spite of law and authority, there is a natural elation of triumph about
it. When you have succeeded in breaking bounds, you taste the sweets of
an illicit liberty.
peculiar charm about this. To them especially “bread eaten in secret is
pleasant.” Let it be all open and above board, let it be of such a nature that
one would have no objection to the world knowing it, and the pleasure
loses its most pungent element. The air of mystery, the sense of superiority
in doing what those about one little suspect, become elements in the
pleasures of sin. But surely the highest natures must be too simple and
frank to feel the force of such inducements to sin!
on its own account. There is a charm in absolute ugliness. Some men really
seem to love sin for its own sake. A wild intoxication, a mad passion of
conscious guilt, instills a fatal sweetness into stolen waters. But it is the
sweetness of a deadly poison, THE EUTHANSIA OF CRIME!
All these horrible charms of sin need to be guarded against. We must not
trust to our own integrity; it is not proof against the fatal fascinations of
temptation. To resist them we must be fortified with the love of higher
joys, fed with the wholesome food of the banquet of wisdom (see vs.1-
5), attracted by the beauty of holiness, and above all, led to the pure and
nourishing delights of THE GOSPEL FEAST BY FAITH IN
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!
18 “But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are
in the depths of hell.” The deluded youth is supposed to be persuaded by the
seductions of Folly and to enter her house. The writer, then, in a few
weighty words, shows the terrible result of this evil compliance. But he
knoweth not that the dead are there (see on ch.2:18 and 7:27). There are none
“there,” in her house, who can be said to be living, they are rephaim, shadowy
ghosts of living men, or else demons of the nether world. The Septuagint and
Vulgate, with a reference to Genesis 6:4, translate ghgenei~v – gaegeneis –
Giants and Latin - gigantes. Her guests are in the depths of hell
(sheol); Septuagint, “He knows not that giants perish at her side, and he
meets with a trap of hell.” The terrible warning may profitably be repeated
more than once, It is like Christ’s awful saying, three times enunciated,
“Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44,
The Invitation of Folly (vs. 13-18)
The picture to be taken in contrast with that at the beginning of the chapter.
Ø She is excitable and passionate (v. 13), and may be fitly imaged
as the harlot, the actress and mask of genuine feeling.
Ø She is irrational, and knows not what is what. True love is not blind,
either as to self or its objects.
Ø She is like the harlot again in her shamelessness (v. 14). Folly does
not mind exposure, and rushes on publicity. (Notice how she dresses
in public places and at public events in the 21st century – CY – 2013)
Ø She is solicitous of company (v. 15). Must have partners in guilt
(everybody’s doing it, misery loves company, etc.), and
companions to keep her in countenance. Fools cannot be happy in
solitude, cannot enjoy the sweet and silent charms of nature. Wisdom
finds good both in the forest and the city, in the cloister or amidst the
“busy hum of men.”
Ø Folly is gregarious. Wherever there is a crowd, there is something
foolish going on (v. 16). It may be safely said of habitual gatherings in
taverns and such places, “mostly fools.” The wise man goes apart to
recover and strengthen his Individuality; the fool plunges into the
throng to forget himself.
Ø Folly is sly and secretive (v. 17). The secret feast is here the illicit
pleasure (compare ch.30:20). The fact that people like what they ought
not to like all the more because they ought not, is a complex
phenomenon of the soul. The sweetness of liberty recovered is in it,
and forms its good side.
pleasure, no matter what the pleasure may be. Augustine tells how he
robbed an orchard as a boy, admitting that he did not want the pears,
and arguing that it must therefore have been his depravity that led him
to find pleasure in taking them! In the same way one might prove the
depravity of the jackdaw that steals a ring. Let us repudiate the
affectation of depravity, a great “folly” in its way; and
rather draw the wholesome lesson that the love of liberty, of fun — in
short, of any healthy exercise of energy, needs direction. The instinct for
privacy and liberty gives no less zest to legitimate than to illicit pleasures.
Ø It is represented under images of darkness and dread. Shadows,
“children of death,” dead men, departed ghosts, hover about the dwelling
of Folly and the persons of her guests. And these, while even they sit at
her table amidst feasting and mirth, are already, in the eyes of Wisdom the
spectator, in the depths of hell. Thus the shadows of coming ill “darken
the ruby of the cup, and dim the splendor of the scene.”
Ø The indefinable is more impressive in its effect than the definable. As e.g.
Burke has felicitously shown in his treatise on ‘The Sublime and
Beautiful.’ The obscure realities of the other world, the mysterious
twilight, the chiaro-oscuro of the imagination: in this region is found
all that fascinates the mind with hope or terror. If it be asked —
What precisely will be the doom of the wicked (“where their worm
dieth not and the fire is not quenched” - Mark 9:44,46,48), the
bliss of the righteous? (“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither
have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him.” I Corinthians 2:9) - the answer
is — Definite knowledge has not been imparted, is impossible, and
would have less effect than the vague but positive forms in which the
truth is hinted.
Ø The indefinable is not the less certain. It is the definite which is
contingent, uncertain. Our life is a constant becoming from moment to
moment. This of its nature is as indefinable as the melting of darkness
into day, or the reverse.
The Truth about Sin (vs. 13-18)
Solomon, having told us of the excellency of Wisdom, and of the blessings
she has to confer on her children, now bids us consider the consequences
of listening to sin, when she, the foolish woman, utters her invitation. We
THING. What a painful and repulsive picture we have here of the foolish
woman, who, though utterly ignorant and unworthy (v. 13), assumes a
conspicuous position in the city, places herself “on a seat in the high
places,” speaks with a “clamorous” voice, and, herself unaddressed, calls
aloud to those who are going on their way! When we present the scene to
our imagination, we instinctively shrink from it as repelling and odious. ALL
SIN IS HATEFUL IN THE SIGHT OF GOD, to Him it is “that
abominable thing” (Jeremiah 44:4). And to all the pure in heart it is also,
though not equally, repulsive. In its later stages and final developments
it is simply and thoroughly detestable.
AS THE EVIL MINDED. Folly addresses herself to “passengers who go
right on their ways” (v. 15). There are those who go willfully and
wantonly in the way of temptation. They seek the company of the profane,
the attentions of the immoral. These walk into the net, and are ensnared.
Then there are others who have no thought of evil in their heart; they are
not “purposing to transgress;” but as they pass right on their way, the
temptress throws her net at if not over them, that she may entangle them.
The path of human life is beset with spiritual perils; it is necessary to be
prepared against all forms of evil. We must not only be upright in intention,
but wary and well armed also. (We need to have our mind made up on
what to do before we ever get into these situations! – CY – 2013).
“Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a
roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8).
SOMETIMES A TERRIBLY SEDUCTIVE THING. “The foolish
woman,” though she is said to “know nothing,” yet knows enough to say
truly, “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
(v. 17). It is useless, because it is false, to deny that vice has its pleasures.
Lasciviousness, revelry, avarice, usurpation, have their delights; and there is
a peculiar pleasure in snatching unlawful gratifications rather than in accepting
those which are honorable. (I believe the ratio of the “can dos” to those
“can nots” is in our day, like that of Adam and Eve in the Garden when the
Lord said, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But
of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of
it, for in the day that thou eatest thereof, THOU SHALT SURELY
DIE!”- Genesis 2:16-17 Quite a high percentage ratio of legal things to do! –
CY – 2013) When our nature is unregenerated and unsanctified, when
passion is at its height, when in the soul there is the ardor and energy of
youth, vice has powerful attractions. The young may well provide themselves
against the dark hour of temptation with “the whole armor of God,”
(Ephesians 6:11-18) or they may not be able to stand victorious.
SIN ARE IN THE EMBRACE OF RUIN. “He knoweth not that the
dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell’ (v. 18).
Not only is it true:
Ø that those who yield themselves to guilty passion are on the high road
to ULTIMATE PERDITION but it is also true
Ø that they are already in the depth of ruin. They are “dead while they
live” (I Timothy 5:6); they are “in the depths of hell” (text). To be
sacrificing manhood or womanhood on the altar of an unholy pleasure,
or an immoral gain, or an enslaving fascination; to be sinning
continually against God, and to be systematically degrading OUR
OWN SOUL, to be falling lower and lower in the estimation of the
wise until we become the object of their pity or their scorn; —
THIS IS RUIN! No need to wait for judgment and
condemnation; the guests of sin are in THE DEPTHS OF
HELL ALREADY! If near the door, if on its step, if in its hall,
make like the angels who directed Lot out of
“ESCAPE FOR THY LIFE! (Genesis 19:17).
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