Proverbs 9:13-18

Proverbs 9:13‑18  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
In full contrast with wisdom, and quite distinct from the scorner, is “the foolish woman.” Here we have the picture of herself and her ways, her guests, and their end. Only we must not think that the folly in question means a feeble intellect, but rather the absence of care or thought, of heart or conscience, toward God, which Satan fosters in benighted man. “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,” and therefore neither seeks nor calls on Him. This at the last is antichrist. Here it is “the foolish woman,” the state of things that entices, fleshly corruption rather than the haughty antagonist that sets it up.
“The foolish woman [is] clamorous; senseless (or, simplicity), and knoweth nothing. And she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city, to call those that pass by who go right on their ways. Whoso [is] simple, let him turn in hither. And to him that is void of understanding she saith, Stolen waters are sweet, and the bread of secrecy is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead [are] there, [that] her guests [are] in the depths of Sheol” (vers. 13-18).
Wisdom pleads for Jehovah and therefore in the true interests of man, no less than for the divine glory. The foolish woman is zealous only for the indulgence of sinful pleasure, regardless of all consequences. Yet it is remarkable how similar are the thoughts and words the Holy Spirit uses in speaking of each. Not that wisdom is “clamorous” as is folly; but she does cry and put forth her voice, for understanding is hers, and the immense value she has to communicate from God and for Him, no less than to man. She does not sit on a seat or throne at the door of her house. But she yet more than folly stands in the top of high places by the way, a cheerful giver, who knows the ample resources for all that come. Not so the foolish woman. What house had she built? No pillars had she hewn out. She had neither beasts to kill, nor had she mingled wine, nor furnished her table, like wisdom with a heart delighting in good and in doing good where need abounded, and dangers are without end, and evil beyond measure.
Wisdom had her maidens to send forth, as she herself cried; for she was earnest to win for Jehovah and warn from Him, and sought the highest places of the city. Folly had no such maidens, any more than the generous provision of wisdom. Maidens indeed! She might well be ashamed and blush if she could before maidens, as they would assuredly blush for her words and ways. Yet both are represented as making appeal in terms of strong resemblance, but how opposite their wish and aim! “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither” (vers. 4 and 16). And it is to be remarked, that the foolish woman in particular addresses her call to those that pass by, who go right on their ways. What malicious pleasure to lead such astray!
The difference comes out strongly in what wisdom, as compared with folly, says to him that is void of understanding. “Come, eat ye of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake follies, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” All was open, sound, holy and unselfish on wisdom's part. How sinister the speech of the foolish woman “Stolen waters are sweet, and pleasant is the bread of secrecy.” But the appeal of wisdom needs grace to make it palatable; her rival's invitation is just suited to the dark heart of man as he is. He relishes that which shuns the light. He enjoys what is prohibited, and can only be snatched guilefully or by cunning; he suspects what is given freely, and cannot understand the greatest good as a matter of grace. Wisdom's gifts are therefore distrusted and despised; folly's call to stolen waters is as sweet to fallen nature as to drink them, and the bread of secrecy is as pleasant in prospect as to the taste.
How solemn when the curtain is drawn enough to let us see the dread reality! “But he knoweth not that the dead (or departed, shades) [are] there; that her guests [are] in the depths of Sheol.” As the language about wisdom rose in the chapter before into a living and glorious person, an incomparable object of delight to Jehovah, and with no less incomparable delight of love going out to the sons of men, so here chap. 9 ends with a more awful view than is at all usual in the O.T. of the lot that befalls those that lend their ear, and follow the tempting words of the foolish woman. What a contrast with leaving off folly and going on the way of intelligence!