Wisdom from God is necessary for wisely serving God. We need to keep this truth ever in mind, for it is easy to ignore the voice of wisdom and foolishly entertain the temptations that confront us daily.
An Invitation from a Woman named Wisdom
In our Wisdom Journey through the book of Proverbs, we have reached a point where Solomon changes the focus of our attention. He has just spent nearly three chapters describing the dangers of sexual immorality, as he pictured for us an immoral woman inviting a young man to sin.
Now in chapter 8 Solomon uses another woman as an illustration, and she is passing out invitations as well. Only this time, it’s a wonderful invitation to accept, and that is because her name is Wisdom.
Here is how chapter 8 begins:
Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice? On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads she takes her stand; beside the gates in front of the town . . . she cries aloud. (verses 1-3)
So, here is Lady Wisdom, in prominent places—at busy crossroads, at the city gates—calling out to people as they pass by. And what is she saying?
“To you, O men, I call, and my cry is to the children of man. O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense.”(verses 4-5)
In the Bible, a simple person is naïve and a fool is stubborn and unteachable. So, Wisdom is inviting them all into her classroom, and it’s free of charge—there is no registration fee or tuition. Solomon tells us she is teaching courses like “Prudence 101” and “Common Sense 102.” “Prudence” is clear thinking, and common sense is practical discernment; both make for a useful, productive life.
Now following this invitation from Lady Wisdom, we are reminded how valuable she is. For starters, we are told that wisdom produces godly living.
Wisdom says here in verses 6-7, “I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth.” She is not going to lead anybody astray.
The words of Wisdom here in verse 9 are “straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge.” She will set you straight and put you right; she will help you walk in a straight line and on the right path.
Verse 12 adds that Wisdom offers “knowledge and discretion.” These words relate to your ability to plan wisely in achieving the right goals. And that is critical because having goals does not make them automatically right. A bank robber has a goal of robbing the bank; a lazy person has a goal of getting out of work as much as possible. They have goals, but their goals are wrong. Wisdom, Solomon indicates in verse 13, keeps you from sinful goals.
We are also told here that a wise person is going to influence people in the right way. That is, your wisdom will rub off on other people. In fact, wisdom is not for you to keep to yourself. Solomon writes in verses 15 and 16 that wisdom enables political leaders to rule correctly. He writes, “By me [wisdom] . . . rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly.” In other words, good leadership actually depends on godly wisdom.
The reason our world is so messed up is because we are missing godly leaders. We have so many leaders in our business world and financial world and social world and political world making unwise decisions because they have refused to take classes from Professor Wisdom. They have rejected the wisdom of God’s Word.
So, the first benefit of learning from wisdom is that it produces godly living. The next benefit is this: wisdom leads to godly appreciation.
Wisdom is an attribute of God’s character. It is who God is, and it is what God does. It’s impossible to separate God from wisdom and wisdom from God.
Solomon illustrates that by showing us how wisdom was connected to the creation of the universe:
Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I [Wisdom] was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there … when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight. (verses 25-30)
Beloved, just look around. The wisdom of God is on display through creation. And you, as a follower of God, can appreciate and enjoy this marvelous creation in a way that an unbeliever will never be able to.
In chapter 9 Solomon tells us that Lady Wisdom prepares a feast and sets her table and then sends out invitations to the feast. We read her invitation here in verses 4-6:
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! … Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”
Solomon then gives us some examples of responses to Lady Wisdom’s invitation. For instance, verse 7 describes a bunch of scoffers who laugh at the idea of needing wisdom. They mock at Wisdom’s moral instruction. She is just so old-fashioned.
Their minds are so closed that it is useless to even try to reason with them. Verse 8, in fact, says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.”
Thankfully, other people respond positively to Lady Wisdom’s invitation, and here is the promise given to them in verse 9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Simply put, the wise person who is willing to hang around Lady Wisdom is going to grow even wiser and reap the benefits of living the right kind of life.
At this point, Solomon introduces us to another woman. Her name is Folly, and Solomon is going to contrast her ways with those of Lady Wisdom.
He describes Lady Folly in verse 13: “The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing.” But notice that her invitation cards sound very familiar. In verse 16 Lady Folly says, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
That is exactly what Lady Wisdom said. It’s like the printer made a mistake and printed off the same invitation cards but with a different return address for the feast.
Yes, it sounds the same, but once inside the dining room, the food is very different. Lady Folly has not prepared a wholesome meal. We are told in verse 17 that she has set her table with “stolen water [that] is sweet … [she promises] bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
She has put out a feast of stolen food. She is tempting her dinner guests with things that are forbidden by God. The expressions used here—stolen water and bread eaten in secret—refer to sexual immorality, partaking of that which does not belong to you!
Oh, but her dinner guests think this is the place to be. This is the menu they have been waiting for.
But Solomon pulls back the curtain of time and reveals the dark danger here in verse 18: “But he [the dinner guest] does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol [the grave].” They are not enjoying a feast that brings satisfaction and life; they are playing around with judgment and death.
So, the contrast here in Proverbs 8 and 9 is between Lady Wisdom and life and Lady Folly and death—and the choice between the two is very clear. So be careful. When you get an invitation, make sure it is going to take you to the house of Wisdom. There you will find life worth living.