Having briefly looked at the contrast between the two invitations by Lady Wisdom and Madame Folly, we now shift the focus of our attention to the verses in the centre of the chiasm. Today’s passage contrasts the diners at each table.
Those who dine at Madame Folly’s table (Proverbs 9:7-8) are characterised by an arrogance that does not appreciate correction or rebuke. They are so out of touch with the reality of their own state, thinking they have it all together, that they are offended at the very suggestion of the need for repentance. The corrective word invites abuse and hatred. Those who dine at Lady Wisdom’s (vv. 8-9), on the other hand, are wise and know their need for correction. They welcome the rebuke and will learn from it.
The introduction to Proverbs promises that this book will bring addition to the wise (1:5-6). This is because the wise know how little they know and how deceptive their hearts can be (Jeremiah 17:9). They thus appreciate instruction and teaching, even rebuke and correction, as an act of love. Such people have this attitude because of their ″fear of the Lord″ (Proverbs 9:10)-a reverence for God that comes with acknowledging His sovereignty and holiness, being grateful for the privilege of being in a loving relationship with Him, and recognising that He is the true source of wisdom and knowledge.
Fear of the Lord leads to wisdom, which in turn gives the blessing of a long life (v. 11). This is a generalisation: while verse 11 is not promising literal longevity, a wise life that is lived in accordance with God’s will, purpose, and creation order is conducive to a long one. The wise person who dines at the table of Lady Wisdom will be rewarded just as the fool will lose (v. 12); this is something that we take responsibility for as an individual. Our decision to pursue wisdom or folly builds our character-which, as Bible commentator Derek Kidner puts it, is something you ″cannot borrow, lend or escape, for it is you″.2
True wisdom is both a gift of God as well as the result of seeking and searching. Keeping a level head through prayerfulness; recognising the voice of Lady Wisdom and avoiding that of Madame Folly; considering the consequences of our actions; revering God’s words and seeing things through His lens; repenting of our sins; and living according to God’s will and purposes in creation-this is the truly wise life!
2Derek Kidner, Proverbs, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009), 83.
Reflecting on the lessons learned in Proverbs 1-9, what reasons would you give a young disciple for following the path of wisdom?
How should we respond to correction and rebuke?