Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table; she has sent out her maidens, she calls from the tops of the heights of the city: Whoever is naive, let him turn in here! To him who lacks understanding she says, Come eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed. Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding.
Wisdom has not only accomplished something, there is a desire to share what has been learned. What is to be shared is that if they would just abandon their penchant for selfishness and realize that if they go for the triple-win choice instead of the selfish pleasure of victory, there is more for everybody.
The house that wisdom has built is clearly not a one-bedroom apartment but has room for others. The seven pillars suggest solidity or maybe a reference to the completeness of the house –seven often being a numerical symbol of the divine or the complete.
she has prepared her food – Do you think that the food of wisdom will be the same as the food of the fool? Absolutely not! The food of the wise will give you strength and will benefit you for the long term. The food of the fool or the strange woman will be highly pleasurable with little nutritional value because immediate pleasure, taste, and happiness is all that is being pursued by the fool.
Notice that wisdom has set the table and not just for herself. It is also set with order, manners, and decorum. The woman of folly, at the end of the chapter, does not set a table nor prepare food; she is luring travelers with sex. There is little thought of the future, only the present pleasure. When the diseases, guilt, and financial ruin come, then the hedonism of sex will be forgotten. The woman of folly only has herself. Wisdom has maidens who are sent out to recruit people to sit at the table of wisdom.
Notice that she has a table to set, food to prepare, and wine to mix. The woman of folly does not have these things; she only has her body and the little place she has rented to use it. Wisdom has produced some real goods and has abundance enough to share with others. The woman of folly only has promises and sin to offer. Keep this in mind when you are making choices. Don’t invest in or with those who have no results or who only offer shades of sin as the way to be wise. That kind of person is not the person who speaks wisdom. They speak, instead, folly.
she has mixed her wine – It is most likely not mixed to be highly alcoholic but instead tasty and medicinal over the water of that period. It is also implied that pure wine needs to be cut; pure pleasure should not be pursued. If one pursues pleasure without regard to how it will affect others and how it will please God, one is being a fool and bad results will follow.
There is an interesting observation in connection to this Proverb in that in our four-dimensional world truth must show that it is truth by building something that people can be physically impressed with. There must be numbers; there must be a building or something that people can see. It is only then that they will be drawn to hear of the wisdom of what you have to say. It is why churches do not usually do seminars about their philosophy of ministry until they have a building. The building showcases and makes real the truth or wisdom of their way. So a real question could be what do you have to show for your supposed wisdom? What have you done? Where is your food? Where are your maidens? Show me the long-term results of people following your plan.
Wisdom declares that when you stop thinking exclusively selfishly, then the world works. If you think only of yourself, then you have momentary pleasure and a growing amount of troubles, judgments, consequences, and even God’s wrath. It is true that you must mix into your choices your own personal win. But wisdom is looking for the choice that will include a win for God, a win for the others directly affected by the choice, and a win for you. The personal win may be more long term or have a lower percentage than if you just maximized your own personal pleasure, but it does not come with the negative consequences.
The phrase, “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here” is the same phrase that the woman of folly utters. But there is a totally different form of knowledge that the woman of folly is offering. She is offering carnal knowledge that will lead you down the road of hedonistic pleasure – emotional turmoil, true moral guilt, unfaithfulness, spiritual dryness, financial difficulty, etc.
Wisdom is calling out through her maidens, “If you don’t know what to do and do not know which choices to make or if you don’t know what to do with your life, then turn in here and we will help you find the true path and we will show you the fruits of this type of life. You must have the fruits before you can set the table.”
The invitation to dine with wisdom is not a one-night stand as it is with the woman of folly but rather to enter into a discipling which is a learning relationship to learn a whole new way to approach life. A life not driven by what you want or what seems easiest but by what will please God, be a win for others, and be a long-term win for yourself. This type of thinking does not come to a person in one meal or one epiphany but instead must be learned through a longer term relationship – a mentoring process.
Many times wise businessmen and women are excusing the wild foolishness of their younger employees as “sowing their wild oats.” These people really need to be asked to join a mentoring program that will teach them wisdom so that they will abandon the foolishness that comes so naturally to them. We have a responsibility to share the path of wisdom with those who are under us and who will turn in and learn.
* This material is copyrighted © by Gil Stieglitz who retains all rights to the material. The verses quoted are taken from the NASB Bible 1995 edition.