Verse 1-18 Queen Wisdom versus Dame Folly
Chapter 9 is as if wisdom and folly are trying for the attention of a youthful passerby. Each, wisdom and folly have set up their house. The “seven pillars” are open to all sorts of interpretation. The number seven is so important in Scripture. The reference here may only be to the seven pillars that surround the courtyard of a fine house. We see a beautiful parable of a feast in which the simple, the untrained and unsophisticated are invited. The passage reminds of the weeding feast that is recorded in Matthew 22:1-14. The invitation is sincere and urgent. Queen Wisdoms maids are sent forth to call “from the highest places in the town.” “Whoever is unlearned and innocent, come to the house of Queen Wisdom. She has a feast prepared for you.” a note of desperation is spoken in the invitation: “Leave simpleness and live.” For one to ignore this invitation is to bring death upon them self.
There are sample in verses 7-12 to entice the invited guest to come to the feast in Queen Wisdom’s house. The thought here is that some will scoff at the invitation, and to the ones that do they probably cannot be helped by anyone. One who tries to correct a scoffer is subject to abuse. Those that are wise will appreciate the opportunity to increase their wisdom. Here in these verses the wise men and the righteous are equated and are viewed as one and the same.
In verse 10 the theme of the book is repeated, the “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” In verse 12 we see the last parable in this series between the pictures of Queen Wisdom and folly. We see here that we are individually accountable for the rewards are consequences of our wisdom or folly. It is for ourselves if we are wise and it is for ourselves if we are scoffers to receive the reward or suffer the consequence. Scoffer in the Hebrew translation is fool.
We now see Dame Folly pictured as a harlot, “wanton” and knowing no “shame.” Dame Folly does not send her servants out to invite men but goes to entice them herself. She sits in the door of her house and is bold to occupy the public places of the town and calls out to those who pass by. Her invitation is a copy of that of Queen Wisdom but her meaning is far from the same. Her enticement is of stolen water, a thinly veiled reference to illicit love as the bread eaten in secret. The irresistibility of her invitation is a force that all have to grapple with. The tragedy of this picture is the conclusion. The simple accept the enticement of Dame Folly and has no awareness that he is entering into the house of death. Queen Wisdom says, “Come to me and live.” Dame Folly says, “Come to me and die.” This is life’ basic choice.
As children we heard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Proverbs presents another viewpoint – that words have the power of life and death. The words contained in lies, arguments, insults, slander, gossip, rumors, flattery, and bragging can all be death dealing.
Proverbs repeatedly emphasizes that foolish people speak foolish words. They are represented by “the woman named folly,” who lies and deceives to harm her hearers. Words reflect the condition of the heart. While someone might attempt to conceal an evil heart by using pleasant words, a person’s true character will surface in the end. The words of fools not only harms others; these words ultimately injure those who speak them. This is what James had in mind when he said that the tongue is full of wickedness that can ruin your whole life. (James 3:6)
In contrast, wise people speak the life giving words represented by wisdom. Wise people use their words sparingly and are usually gentle. However, a wise person also knows the right time to speak the right words and realizes that, at times, even harsh criticism is necessary. Proverbs wisely reminds its readers to pay close attention both to what they say and how and when they say it.