The Hebrew word for wisdom (chokmah) used in the Old Testament refers to knowledge bound with an inner quality that connects a heart and life in congruence with the purposes and character of God.[1] This is the word used in Proverbs 9.  This wisdom denotes a mutual relationship, something that can be given and received, nurtured or denied. Wisdom is not simply a theoretical concept or something that only needs be known in your head.  This wisdom is the foundation of an individual’s authentic behavior, the connection between the soul and the brain. Wisdom in a Biblical sense is so very much more than wisdom as defined in our English language.  To us wisdom is simply knowledge, information and understanding.  Yet, to the writers of the Bible wisdom was created as a foundational word for relationship with God.[2]

In Proverbs 9 the writer continues to breathe life into and characterize wisdom as a woman, but also characterizes folly as an equally powerful woman as well. Chapter 9 shows the stark characteristics between wisdom and folly and brings those contrasts into full light. Verses 1-6 and 13-18 are where we can see these contrasts and their most vivid differences.

In verses 1-6 we see that Wisdom has built her house with seven sturdy pillars. She has prepared her meal, mixed her wine, and prepared her table. She calls out to those seeking wisdom and invites them to “turn in here”. She calls to those that are adrift (simple), “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 understanding.”[3]

In verses 13-18 we see that Folly has built nothing that really stands firm. We are told Folly is loud and she uses her lack of knowledge to seduce the simple and adrift. Instead of building and preparing she steals and does her bidding under the cloak of secretiveness. What the simple and adrift do not realize is those that have accepted Folly’s invitation are not living but are dying.

Wisdom points to life and provides for those that choose her way. Wisdom shares in her abundance. Folly offers stolen water and hidden bread. Her invitation is an entry to death.

As we read these verses and see the clear contrast between a life seeking wisdom and a life seeking folly, why would anyone answer Folly’s invitation? Who would choose the darkness of deceit over the gift of a wise life? Folly is seductive. It lends itself to instant gratification. It’s the quick fix to a temporary pain, i.e. loneliness, boredom, rejection, failure, I could go on. Wisdom fixes the real cause to our pain- disconnection from God, disconnection from God’s intended purpose for our life. If we can be patient, do the work and seek God’s guidance in all things we choose joy in life. Wisdom takes work- wisdom builds up, prepares, gives lavishly. Wisdom is cultivating relationship with the true embodiment of God’s character.

So as you pray over Proverbs 9 today I encourage you to ask the question, “Where am I choosing Folly over Wisdom in my life?” “Where am I seeking a quick fix instead of seeking wisdom to understand the situation?” When you start naming where you could use more connection and work on your authentic self, you begin your relationship with  answering Wisdom’s invitation to “turn in here” and turning into connection with God.

With Joy,

Melissa

[1] https://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/chokmah.html

[2] https://asmallwork.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/8142856

[3] Proverbs 9 verse 4; New International Version.

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