Proverbs Chapter 9

Jun 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Proverbs, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

In the Book of Proverbs, two women are very noticeable. (Similarly, the Song of Solomon features two especially prominent women.) In Proverbs, one is the true woman, leading to life, and the other is the false woman, leading to extinction. The false woman, who is worldly or Satanic wisdom—a very dangerous type of wisdom—shows her face only occasionally in different chapters.

The Book of Proverbs does two things: it shows (1) what wisdom is and (2) how to attain it. We are especially interested in the latter. True wisdom is reflected in the face of Jesus, “who … is made unto us wisdom” (1 Cor. 1:30).

A note of pathos permeates the Book of Proverbs. For those who do attain the true wisdom, there will be joy evermore.

The Book of Proverbs contains very deep thinking. It is difficult to teach that which is very deep. The proverbs are presented from the standpoint of experience, scholastic understanding, the study of fallen human nature, etc.

Proverbs Chapter 9

Prov. 9:1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:

“Wisdom hath builded her house.” Past tense is used—the house is complete; it is an accomplished fact.

In Proverbs 8 and in another prior chapter of the Book of Proverbs, it is apparent that the framework for physical creation was set up by the Creator. Proverbs 8 mentions the wisdom that was involved in the planning and the creation of this planet and its purpose with regard to God’s future plans. There is the natural house and there is the spiritual house, physical creation and the new creation. God’s infinite wisdom and power were employed in both.

“She [wisdom] hath hewn out her seven pillars.” Wisdom can be thought about in two ways. For instance, we frequently speak of love as comprising all graces. The sum of all graces, when placed together in their fullness, represents love. The Apostle Paul fractured  love into various distributions of how love acts. (His listing does not cover all distributions, however. That would be impossible in the present life; it would take an eternity to begin to understand God.)

Wisdom and Love are two of the four attributes of God. As love seems to be the sum of all graces, so wisdom, in one sense, is the summation of all types of knowledge (creation, workmanship, skill, intelligence, scientific understanding, etc.). In the Book of Proverbs, wisdom is present two ways: fractionally and as a composite whole. The “seven pillars” pertain to wisdom in the large sense.

The seven pillars are listed in Isaiah 11:2,3, “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of [1] wisdom and [2] understanding, the spirit of [3] counsel and [4] might, the spirit of [5] knowledge and of the [6] fear of the LORD; And shall make him of [7] quick  understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” Jesus is the One upon whom the spirit of wisdom was conferred in its fullness and in its entirety. He is the very embodiment of wisdom.

The seven pillars are also broken out in Proverbs 1:2–7, “To [1] know wisdom and instruction; to [2] perceive the words of understanding; To [3] receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity; To [4] give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will [5] hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To [6] understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings. The [7] fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The preposition “to” helps to identify the seven pillars.

The word “wisdom” frequently calls to mind the Scripture “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psa. 111:10). We are interested in God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of this world, not in making a name or reputation for ourselves. We want to know: who are we? where did we come from? where is our destiny? what is God’s purpose in the creation of man?

But in both Proverbs 1 and Isaiah 11, notice where “fear of the Lord” is placed? Last or next  to last on the ascending scale. There are two ways to present a climax: either to start with the most important or to end with the most important. On an ascending scale of seven, the seventh is the most important, and on a descending scale the first is the most important. Therefore, with the fear of the Lord being the “beginning of wisdom,” the key is to understand or define the word “beginning.” In English, the word “first” can mean first in sequence or first in primacy. The word “beginning” in the “beginning of wisdom” pertains to primacy. In Isaiah 11, the “fear of the Lord” is the sixth pillar; the seventh, “quick understanding,” is intuitive wisdom, which only God now possesses. God knows without rationalizing or going through deductive analyses; He knows the end from the beginning. This suggests that all who possess the divine nature will be much like Him even though He will still be supreme as Emperor of the universe. He will have complete confidence in those who make the grade; there will be no question of any disobedience in the future. Hence He will grant them the capability of intuitive wisdom. Even Jesus did not possess intuitive wisdom at the First Advent, for he had questions.

Comment: The Masoretic supports the King James in Proverbs 1:2–7. “To know wisdom and instruction; to comprehend the words of understanding; To receive the discipline of wisdom, justice, and right, and equity; To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion, that the wise man hear and increase in learning, and the man of understanding may attain unto wise counsels; To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their dark sayings. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. But the foolish despise wisdom and discipline.”

Comment: A King James marginal reference for Proverbs 1:7 is “The fear of the LORD is the principal part of wisdom.”

Reply: Yes, primacy of importance is shown.

Prov. 9:2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.

Wisdom “hath killed her beasts; … mingled her wine; … furnished her table.” Again, past tense is used. There is a feast here, a table, a spread—and wisdom has already set the table. Wisdom is the framework of the house, and in that house is a set table.

Q: Is this a reference to Jesus’ sacrifice, which God planned before the foundation of the world?

A: Yes, that is a primary thought.

God knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, He sometimes uses past tense for things that, from our perspective, are yet future.

The “beasts” are explained in Tabernacle Shadows. The Holy Spirit, in personifying Wisdom, states that the table has already been spread. In other words, wisdom has spread the table. Solomon was speaking of his personal experiences, but the Holy Spirit supplemented his thoughts and gave a higher connotation. The principle would be “Out of the mouth of babes comes forth wisdom.” Sometimes “babes,” which we are in many respects, will utter profound statements.

“Wine” pictures the joys of the truth in contradistinction to the water of truth, which refreshes and satisfies thirst. Wine does not satisfy thirst but brings joy; it loosens the  tongue and provides happiness and cordiality in the good sense. A mixed or “mingled” wine is good wine. We are to be filled, saturated, with the truth—to be drunk with it. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

The calling and development of the Church to be of the Bride of Christ are one of the primary features in God’s plan. As a result of their reign, promised by God, the earth will be blessed. But the wine, the doctrine, and the types and shadows have already been provided. We, the consecrated, have been invited to this table where we feed on these things.

Prov. 9:3 She hath sent forth her maidens; she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

The “maidens” sent forth by wisdom are prophets, teachers, evangelists, etc. The “maidens” are wisdom’s children.

Q: Was Jesus referring to Proverbs 9:2 when he gave the parable of the king who made a marriage for his son (Matt. 22:2–10)? Some of the language is similar. He called those who were bidden to the wedding, but they would not come. “Tell them I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fatlings are killed, all things are ready; come into the marriage.” In other words, the table is spread and the parable proceeds to mention those who were sent to the feast but rejected it.

A: Yes. The parable starts with the beginning of the age. At the table were many empty places, for those who were invited made excuses for not coming. Then the king sent out into the highways for guests, here called “the highest places of the city.”

Comment: Matthew 11:19 says, “Wisdom is justified of her children.”

Reply: That is long-range justification. For instance, those who have given their lives to Christ are considered by the world as very foolish. They suffer shame, ignominy, rejection, persecution, etc., but when the faithful ones are exalted as kings and priests, they will be justified for having put their little all on the altar in the present life. Wisdom being justified of her children is the end product. It takes time for wisdom to be justified, for the course of true wisdom sometimes looks exactly the opposite—it looks like foolishness. The wisdom of God is foolishness to man.

Wisdom “crieth upon the highest places of the city.” In Old Testament times, prophets went to the gate of a city and preached the message on their hearts to all who entered the city. Another place they preached was in the second or third tier or balustrade of the Temple. “She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors” (Prov. 8:2,3).

When the prophets went to these places, the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, gave them a megaphonic voice for the occasion.

God has also sent forth wisdom and had it cry through the Holy Bible. The Word of God has been published in most languages and gone throughout the world. Yet how few advantage themselves by examining it! The Bible has been conspicuously placed so that no one will have an excuse for not heeding it. As we study the Book of Proverbs, we will see more and more that there is no excuse. People become willingly ignorant.

Prov. 9:4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Isn’t this marvelous? “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither.” One does not have to be highly educated to get the truth, but one must take the proper steps. If one truly hungers and thirsts after knowledge in the depth of his soul or being, God promises He will answer. “As for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, ‘Come, eat of my bread.’” The parable of the king who made a marriage for his son (Matt. 22:2–10) is as follows: “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.” It is certainly possible that when Jesus gave that parable, he had in mind the good table of Proverbs 9. (The Book of Proverbs also mentions a wicked table.)

Once one sees the door of opportunity for truth open, he must respond of his own initiative.

REVIEW

The seven pillars of wisdom (Prov. 9:1) are mentioned in Isaiah 11:2,3 and Proverbs 1:2–7, but there is a difference in the two. The first chapter of Proverbs shows the aspiration and progress of those who are seeking wisdom, whereas Isaiah 11 uses past tense for wisdom already secured as personified in the person of Jesus.

Chapter 9 of Proverbs is a repetition of Chapter 1, but from a different perspective. “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars” (Prov. 9:1). In the search for wisdom in Chapter 1, one begins on the outside—that is, the individual is not spirit-begotten but is natural-minded and searching for wisdom. In Chapter 9 the same principles are presented but on a higher plane pertaining to the spiritual house. In Chapter 1, when one who is approaching God as a natural man sees the heavens, he is in awe of the majesty and splendor of God through these, His created works. The universe is the old creation, the former physical, material creation. Chapter 9 has the same principles but applied to the spiritual house, the new creation, which has been in process of development down through the seven stages (pillars) of the Church. This is the plan of God as regards His spirit creation, which began with His Son, then the Bride, and the divine plan of the ages. This divine plan is much different from the material world.

“Wisdom hath builded her house.” In other words, just as God had in mind—and still does have in mind—a plan for the whole physical universe (as proven by His giving names to all the stars), so a spiritual universe is being planned with The Christ.

Proverbs 9:1 is much like Proverbs 1:2, “To know wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 9 starts with wisdom: “Wisdom hath builded her house with seven pillars.” Next we see a furnished table (Prov. 9:2). The suggestion is that if we want to go further and develop in the spiritual house, we must partake of this benefit.

Proverbs 1:2 continues, “To perceive the words of understanding.” It is the same with the spiritual house. When we see the physical universe, we want to know the God who created and planned it: “Oh, that we could know thee!” And so it is with the awesome divine plan spread before us with all of its bounties. We want to perceive the words of the Bible.

In Proverbs 9:3 maidens are sent forth to beckon with an invitation. “Wisdom crieth aloud, high in the street of the city [paraphrase].” Although the heavens are silent, their message is “heard.” And so, within the divine plan is the high calling of the Church, and the invitation is heard throughout the world in the Bible, which has been translated into all languages.

The first chapter tells us to “receive the instruction of wisdom,” which is broken down into “justice, judgment, and equity” (Prov. 1:3 ). This corresponds with the third step in Proverbs 9. If we are humble, simple, meek, and willing to be taught, then we are invited by wisdom, pictured here as a woman, to “turn in hither” and thus get the basic principles and understanding of truth.

Many scholarly Christians have regarded the Book of Proverbs as just natural, practical, helpful advice, but the book contains a spiritual and even prophetic intonation. Unfortunately, the book is studied very little.

Prov. 9:5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

Paraphrase: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of my mixed wine.” We come to Jesus and we eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, spiritually speaking. Verse 5 corresponds to the fourth step in Proverbs 1:4, “To give subtlety to the simple [the babe], to the young man knowledge and discretion.”

The mixed wine is favorable here. Water is truth, and wine is the joy and happiness of the truth. A “mixed” wine would be the combination of joy and sorrow.

The “bread” of life is several things: the Word of God; Jesus; his doctrine; and his flesh/humanity, which justified us.

The Memorial cup is more the sorrow aspect. Jesus asked, “Are ye able to drink of my cup?” Hence the drink would be strong.

Both Chapter 1 and Proverbs 9:9 speak of the increase in learning: “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels.” The progression is from the simple (a babe) to a young man to a wise man.

Steps 6 and 7 are incorporated together in Proverbs 9:10, whereas in the first chapter they are separated. The ones who increase in learning develop to such a maturity that they understand proverbs and dark sayings. This is quite an attainment in wisdom. And the last step is the goal, the chief part of wisdom: reverence.

When Solomon had the Holy Spirit, his reasoning was very good. The Lord blessed him according to his prayer for wisdom to teach the people better.

Prov. 9:6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

“Forsake the foolish [the vain world and its pleasures and intoxications], and live.” Even the best of the world’s goods are vain, transitory, ephemeral, short-lived.

Prov. 9:7 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.” Matthew 7:6 fits this principle: “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.” When the truth is earnestly presented to a scorner, he ridicules it to show how foolish the believer is. A very intelligent person can often make the Christian look like a fool; the quick wit causes embarrassment. Hence the advice is not to present truth—not to injudiciously and promiscuously cast pearls—to scorners, wicked men, dogs, swine. “To him that hath an ear to hear” is the principle to follow. In proportion to the interest shown, we present details of truth.

“He that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.” This portion of verse 7 is a little stronger, more the rending aspect rather than just ridicule. We can at least superficially judge a person who is wicked, for Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:16–20).

Proverbs 1: 7 reads, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge [wisdom]”; notice what follows: “but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Solomon was a great mathematical builder. Among other things he built the temple, his own house, and a sea wall. In the beginning he had the blessing of the spirit of the Lord.

In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon will tell how he fell. Just as Elihu felt compelled to write the Book of Job because of his presumptuousness and lack of wisdom in speaking negatively about Job, so Solomon felt compelled to write about his unwisdom and fall and then eventually his coming to his senses.

Prov. 9:8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

How do we know the difference between a scorner and a wise man? A wise man would be teachable, and he would realize the need for and the soundness of the wisdom of instruction. A wise man would listen to the advice and profit from it. To try to convert a scorner is a waste of time and can bring hatred to the Christian. Truth can also result in hatred by those who profess themselves to be teachers of religion.

“Rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.” How nice!

Prov. 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

We all start as babes, then hopefully progress to young men and finally full maturity of character. To mature, we need other minds to help and stimulate us.

Nathan rebuked David, and David accepted the rebuke (as king, David could have ordered Nathan put to death). David also showed humility when Shimei cursed him and tried to stone him; David felt this was God’s providence and retribution for something he had done.

Comment: Psalm 141:5 shows the attitude of those who wisely receive reproof: “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.”

Prov. 9:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

As in Proverbs 1:7, the statement is repeated here about the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom. True, the spirit of reverence does start the Christian in the way, but our goal at the end of our walk should be to be like God, who has four attributes: Wisdom, Justice, Love, and Power. We should attain love and know how to be just. In addition, the Holy Spirit is called the spirit of a sound mind and of power of logic, but the end product of power is to reign with Christ and to be with him as counselors, priests, and kings.

The following is true, but not necessarily in the present life. To be of the kings who will reign, wisdom plays a large part: “By me [wisdom] kings reign, and princes decree justice.By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth” (Prov. 8:15,16).

The word for “holy” (qadosh) is plural, meaning “the knowledge of the holy ones is understanding.” In other words, the reference is to those who, just before they die, are faithful enough in this life to be of the Little Flock. For those who attain this level of understanding, their spirit will be transferred to the new life in a perfect body. (It is significant that “the knowledge of the holy ones” follows “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”) The goal of being one of the 144,000 holy ones is expressed in the hymn as “O, that I might worthy be, to see thy saints in full prosperity.”

Comment: Both the RSV and the NIV have “the Holy One.” Could it be plural in the sense of Elohim, thus emphasizing the majesty of God?

Reply: Such liberty could be taken in that sense.

Comment: The Companion Bible describes it as plurality of majesty.

(Note: In the next week’s study, “Holy One” was given the preference.)

In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon is giving advice in sequence, and he is telling the dangers that would impede the progress of following his instructions. For instance, he says, “My son, give me thine heart,” but he then counsels as to the dangers and points out what happened to him without saying, “I, Solomon, am repentant for what I have done.” David, a man after God’s own heart, fell into somewhat similar situations, but he was extricated because he took the necessary steps to receive God’s goodwill and favor. Solomon probably will not be one of the Ancient Worthies, but he did finish his course with forgiveness and thus would more likely be of the Great Company of the Jewish Age. Just like Elihu, he was an overcomer but not a more than an overcomer.

COMPARISON OF PROVERBS 9:10 AND 1:7

In Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” the Hebrew word for “beginning” is different from that used in Proverbs 1:7.

In Proverbs 1, the Hebrew word translated “beginning” can mean either “first” (in sequence) or “first” (in importance), ie, “most important.” Scriptural usage utilizes both meanings. The thought in Proverbs 1:7 is “Wisdom is the principal [or chief] part of knowledge [wisdom].” Because a minority of translators felt “principal part” was the correct thought, that alternate appears in the King James margin.

However, the word translated “beginning” in Proverbs 9:10 is consistently used in Scripture to mean “commencement” or “first” (in sequence). It is contextual reasoning that justifies the sense of “principal part” here. Both chapters (1 and 9) shows steps of wisdom, sequence, in ascending order, the last being “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” In other words, “the fear of the LORD is the principal part of the whole objective of knowing God.”

Just as in the first chapter, wisdom is pictured in a favorable light as a woman in Proverbs 9:1–12. In fact, some translators in the past said “dame wisdom,” meaning a woman who was respected and highly appreciated. The bad woman was called “dame folly,” meaning the foolish woman. (“Folly” comes from “fool.”)

In Proverbs 9:1–12 wisdom, personified as a woman, is giving advice. She sends out maidens. Just as in Chapter 1, for the one who believes God is an intelligent Creator but has no understanding and is hungering to know Him, the Bible is the answer. One is to grow from the milk of the Word to strong meat to being a man of mature development.

“The knowledge of the holy is understanding.” The word “holy” is in the plural. The thought is “the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The plurality refers to God’s majesty.

In Proverbs 1, the very opening of the book is stating in effect, “Do you want wisdom? Do you have the desire to know wisdom?” Usually this desire starts from the reverence of believing that there is a God and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The beauties of nature awe the individual, but he wants to know how to govern his life, and that is the first step of wisdom. The last step is knowing God. We read about God and His instructions in the Bible, but to worship God means that we recognize His greatness, which takes time.

In Proverbs 9:10 the Hebrew word for “beginning” is techelt, which technically means “to penetrate, to enter.” Sequence and time are not the basic meaning, but where the word is used in the Bible, it does mean “first” (in sequence).

Ferrar Fenton’s The Complete Bible in Modern English on page 126 says, “The fear of the LORD reveals wisdom.” “Reveals” would be an opening, an entrance.

Darby’s alternate translation, which he favors, reads, “The fear of Jehovah is the principal [part] of wisdom.”

The Amplified Old Testament plays it safe both ways: “The reverent and worshipful fear of the LORD is the beginning and the chief and the choice part of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight and understanding.”

For the Septuagint, 70 Hebrew scholars translated the text of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek language around 300 BC. For Proverbs 9:10, just as in the King James there were dissenting scholars. The majority believed that it should read “the beginning of wisdom,” but some felt the thought was as stated in the footnote: “Or summit”—”the fear of the LORD is the summit of wisdom.” In other words, the highest achievement that man can attain unto is a deep appreciation of and reverence for God called the “fear of the LORD.”

Such a reverential attitude is fully opened only at maturity. Only at maturity, then, can we begin to understand God and use the word “begin” in a mature sense. One who has a proper reverential fear of God obeys His commandments. The Little Flock, who will be given the divine nature, are those who fear God and obey His commandments to the best of their ability. They will prove so loyal in the present life that when they receive the divine nature, no circumstance would or could ever cause them to think or do contrary to the Almighty. Their characters will be so crystallized that when given a perfect body, a perfect mind, and power, their reverence would only be enhanced. (Generally power destroys people. When people who seem meek and humble are given power, they often get nasty and selfish. Would those in poverty stay humble if they suddenly became wealthy?) Those who get the divine nature will be just like Jesus: the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

(Deut. 6:2) “That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.”

(Job 28:28) “And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” Notice, “the fear of the Lord is wisdom”—no mention of the “beginning.”

(Psa. 111:10) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.” The KJV margin has “success” for “beginning.” Success does not come until the end. “The fear of the LORD is the success of wisdom.” Success is the attainment of that which is hoped for.

(Eccl. 12:13) “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” In other words, this was the last utterance of Solomon (next to the last verse of Ecclesiastes). The sum and substance of God’s charge of responsibility for man is the fear of God and the doing of His commandments. This verse could not be stated more emphatically. The whole duty of man is to fear God. Solomon made mistakes before he learned this truth, but we hopefully benefit from his (and our own) mistakes.

In summation, the proper fear of Jehovah comes later in life with maturity. Therefore, the context overrules the particular application and meaning of the word. The majority opinion is not always the right opinion.

Prov. 9:11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

Prov. 9:12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

Verses 11 and 12 are coupled with verse 10. “For by me [wisdom] thy days shall be multiplied.” God’s knowledge or instruction emanates from the true woman, who pictures wisdom. Some translators picture two women in the Book of Proverbs: false or foolish wisdom and true wisdom. Foolish wisdom has the appearance of wisdom but is actually folly. Verse 11 is saying that by obeying the instruction of the divine commandments, a person lives longer.

Verse 12 is stating that it is the personal responsibility of those who have made a commitment to serve God to obey or not obey His commandments. A scorner here is one who does not heed the Lord’s instruction, the instruction of wisdom. For example, if Jesus were giving instructions in person, one who turned a deaf ear would be “scorning” him.

Prov. 9:13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

Verses 13–18 pertain to a “foolish [or false] woman.” However, the foolish woman poses as one who has true wisdom, as a benefactor of pleasure. She is worldly wise, but the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. This woman calls to the “simple” (verse 16), but she herself is “simple.” (The “simple” foolish woman is like those she is trying to attract.) People who are young, naive, relatively innocent, and perhaps giddy are immature; they are not cognizant of the serious problems that exist.

Prov. 9:14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,

The foolish woman sits in a conspicuous, prominent place. The word “seat” means “throne”; hence she has some worldly stature. Similarly, in Proverbs 8:2,3 true wisdom was pictured as a woman seated at three prominent places: a gate, a high place, and by the wayside (very convenient to passersby). Thus there are two women: one with true advice and one with false advice, both being conspicuously situated and near each other.

The Bible, the best known book, is available to all. If someone wants to know about God but hasn’t searched the Bible, that individual is without excuse. God has chosen to make His Word a very published book so that no one will be able to say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”

While both women are in very prominent places, the foolish woman has more glitz and show and is gaudy and clamorous. She is sitting as a harlot. In contrast, the true woman is relatively low key.

Prov. 9:15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:

The clamorous foolish woman is convenient to those who pass by minding their own business and not thinking of responding to a harlot (“who go right on their ways”).

Prov. 9:16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,

Those who are simple and naive are not contemplating wrongdoing, but lacking experience and not being alert to the dangers, they are liable to fall. On the other hand, because they are humble, they are also liable to following the Lord. Hence in Proverbs 8:4,5 wisdom calls out to the simple to listen to her. Both women are calling to the simple.Thus there are two classes of the “simple”; one class responds to improper advice and falls, and the other class responds to proper advice.

As a general rule, God is not calling reprobates who are hardened in sin, eg, drunkards. Rather, He is calling those who want to know Him, those who have not previously responded but are searching if haply they might find Him (Acts 17:27). Verse 16 shows the false woman sitting by the wayside calling to and inviting the passersby, trying to entice them.

Prov. 9:17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

The false woman speaks in verse 17, “Stolen waters are sweet,” but the one who turns in “knoweth not … that her guests are in the depths of hell” (verse 18).

Comment: Proverbs 20:17 gives the lesson: “Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel [stones].”

Comment: Verse 5 also mentions bread, but that is a good invitation from the true woman (wisdom): “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

Reply: Yes, that is the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. God is behind the good invitation, the essence of true wisdom; and Satan is behind the bad invitation, the essence of deception, (false) wisdom that degrades the individual. The serpent in Eden appeared wiser than any of the other beasts—before it lost its legs and was made to slither on the ground. When the serpent ate of the tree with impunity, it seemed to give the lie to God’s words. In both cases it was wisdom, but one was the wisdom of Satan and the other was the advice or commandment of God. And this is the problem with the Christian: to discriminate between the two kinds of wisdom. Proverbs is basically a book of advice for the consecrated.

Maimonides, considered by some to be the greatest Jewish scholar, has treated the whole book of Proverbs from the standpoint of the two women. He likens the false women to the flesh, the body. The true woman would be aspirations that are more noble. The Apostle Paul said, “The old man is to perish, but the new man is to grow and develop and increase.” To a certain extent, the false woman can be likened to the old (wo)man, the flesh and fleshly advice; and the true woman, to the new (wo)man, the new creature advice. All of his life, the Christian has to contend with the old man. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7). Although there are three enemies—the world, the flesh, and the devil—the flesh is the worst because it is with us at all times. “The heart [the false woman] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). The false woman, a siren who tries to seduce others, is deceitful and has an appetite for wickedness. Because our flesh is fallen, we must be very careful not to get into an environment in which we can be seduced. Once the seductive process begins, it is almost irreversible … like being caught by a boa constrictor. It is almost impossible to break that hold to commit sin. Therefore, the Scriptures tell us to make straight paths for our feet in order to avoid conditions where we are in danger of entrapment (Heb. 12:13). Most of the difficulties in life will be avoided by being aware of and avoiding danger. The person having that experience is more mature—he has been warned and instructed (he is not simple).

The “simple” class would be new in truth. (However, some Christians are babes all their lives.) Those who desire to develop and grow will follow the advice of true wisdom.

“Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” In some ways there is an attraction for the pleasures of sin. The depraved flesh has an appetite for these desires. When that appetite is satisfied, when the sin is committed, there is a measure of satisfaction, but it is very short-lived and it jeopardizes the person’s eternal welfare. The short-term pleasure brings long-term regret, remorse, and grief.

Prov. 9:18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

The victim knows not that the dead are there in the false woman’s house. The house of the dead is sometimes called the grave, sheol, the pit, the hidden or covered condition, and a charnel house (a house full of dead men’s bones). In other words, the false woman’s house is loaded with corpses. Many have been victimized to their destruction because they were enticed by this woman.

Going into the false woman’s house is like going into a haunted house of death. If the victim had known in advance what his actions would lead to, he would not have turned into her house. Hence it is the inexperienced element who get entrapped. The “simple” ones did not intend to get ensnared. The suggestion was made by an extraneous source. This advice does not pertain to those who are already entrenched in sin and satisfied with it. The advice is given to the inexperienced.

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  1. I like this section Proverbs 9 because it compares to kinds of person from a semi sexual view point.
    The Latter wants to teach a mystery or 2 but wants to smudge the boundaries of Marriage.
    The Former wants to Proclaim the Mystery that maintains the obeying of the Law and so the maintenance of
    Marriage.
    I myself am amazed at God creating so much Sexuality.
    So I hope I can direct it to someone more like the Former than the Latter.

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