Invitation to Life
Lord, extend to me the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom.
Read Proverbs 9:1–18
Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls
from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.”
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
11 For through wisdom your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
12 If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.
13 Folly is an unruly woman;
she is simple and knows nothing.
14 She sits at the door of her house,
on a seat at the highest point of the city,
15 calling out to those who pass by,
who go straight on their way,
16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet;
food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning” (Exod. 20:20).
The same people, the simple, receive identical invitations (4,16), from the same location (3b,14b), to two different parties, but the hostesses are quite different. The parties have different mottoes (5,17) and the company and the destiny are as wide apart as possible: life and insight as over against ghosts and the dead. One striking thing about Lady Wisdom’s generous and stately invitation is that, considering the universal invitation of Isaiah 55, “the guests’ deficiency [is] their only qualification” (Derek Kidner, Proverbs, 77).
I ponder the significance of verses 7 to 12, which separate the symmetrical
six-verse invitations. Perhaps they are more relevant than they appear at first sight. The implication seems to be: which invitation will I accept? It is my choice, and no one can make it for me—verse 12 says, literally, “If you are wise, you are wise to you,” or for yourself, in more correct English. Derek Kidner says, “Your character is the one thing you can’t borrow, lend or escape, for it is you” (Proverbs, 79). A cogent remark. Forsake foolishness (6a says with urgent brevity: “Simple ones leave—and live!”) This is the better choice (9,11), informed by Wisdom’s first principle, which happens to be the salient motto in chapter 9. Of course, your choice may invite mockery, insults or abuse: you are a spoilsport, a killjoy!
“Come… eat… drink” (5). Our Lord also raised his voice on this subject
and gave the same unforgettable invitation. It is set out in some detail, after long reflection, by John in chapter 6 of his Gospel, especially in verses 51–58. By the time these words were written, all disciples of Jesus knew what pain and sacrifice stood behind these words, for Jesus himself and for his followers in every generation.
Help me to listen to your voice with heart awake. Help me on the path of loving obedience even when required to sacrifice what it would cost me—everything (cf. Gen. 22:12).
Lord, I understand that life is made up of a series of choices. Help me to employ the wisdom described herein to make more right than wrong choices.
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