A chiasm is a literary technique that inverts a phrase with a following phrase, often using repeated words or ideas. For example: ″When the going gets tough, the tough get going.″ Through symmetry, chiasms help to emphasise contrast or a central point that may be inserted between the two phrases. The Bible has a number of such chiasms, and Proverbs 9 is one of them.
In this final chapter urging the reader to choose between two women, Lady Wisdom (vv. 1-6) and Madame Folly (vv. 13-18), the chiasm focuses attention on the verses in the middle-verses 7-12, which contrast the mocker (vv. 7-8) and the wise (vv. 9-10). This puts the central focus of the chapter on verse 10: the fear of the Lord.
In verses 1-6, we see the characteristics of Lady Wisdom’s invitation to her substantial, perfect house (v. 1): there is a sumptuous meal of meat and wine on offer (v. 2), and maids broadcasting an invitation to the naive and simple (vv. 3-4). It is an invitation to leave naivety and to walk in the way of the righteous-a meal that will lead to life (v. 6).
Consider the contrast between Lady Wisdom’s offering and Madame Folly’s invitation (vv. 13-18), which is also directed at the simple and naive (v. 16) but involves enjoying the sweet pleasures of a stolen meal that will lead to death (vv. 17-18). We will look at it in greater detail later, on Day 15. Lady Wisdom’s words remind us of another who invites His hearers, not to a meal but to himself: ″Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest″ (Matthew 11:28).
Here is Lady’s Wisdom’s generous invitation to all who are willing to listen, even if they are simple and naive: come and partake of a sumptuous meal; repent, leave your simple ways, and you will live;
Why don’t more people accept Lady Wisdom’s generous invitation to pursue wisdom and live?
What does it mean to ″leave your simple ways″ and ″walk in the way of insight″ (Proverbs 9:6)?