Click here for the reading: Proverbs 9:1–10.

The preparations of Wisdom are lavish and they reflect her earnest desire to give sense to the simple and new life to the erring. It is in view of her invitation that the scoffing of the scoffer is uncovered. Who could say no to such generosity? Who could say no to such wholesome company and such an edifying feast? And yet, Proverbs 9 portrays a tragedy, for inasmuch as Wisdom would welcome any who would listen to her instruction, there are some who refuse to gain insight.

This divergence of ways among men belies the preference in our world for a broad path on which all who travel may wind up eventually at the destination. Not so in the city of Wisdom. There is a house of life and a house of death. There is Wisdom and there is Folly. There are scoffers and there are righteous men. And the two cannot understand one another. They speak different languages and they love different things. They love differently. And so the reproof directed at a fool falls on deaf ears and only produces bitterness. The warning against unrighteousness and death sounds to the scoffer like the nagging of a petulant wife.

For the wise man, however, such instruction is life and better than life. He has come to understand that there is truth against which all the comings and goings of men are measured. The faithfulness and sincerity of wisdom are to be prized above all else. The fog and haze of delusion and deceit must finally give way to despair. Thus the wise man hungers and thirsts for Wisdom. Her meal is the only one that will satisfy.

This picture holds whether we are describing worldly wisdom or divine wisdom. But the end of our lesson indicates that there is a crucial hinge on which all wisdom must swing else it become folly in the eyes of God. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It must be. If it is not, then the wise man who seeks wisdom offers sacrifices at the altar of a false god. Perhaps he does it with great integrity and in self-denial and zeal. But he has devoted himself to deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons, who own the landscape from worldly folly to worldly wisdom.