Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 20, Wisdom And Folly Send Out Invitations

Solomon has told us that wisdom is not hard to find. Neither is folly, otherwise known as foolishness, recklessness, or senselessness. Today we find both wisdom and folly issuing invitations to their houses.

"Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table. She has sent out her servants, and she calls from the highest point of the city, 'Let all who are simple come to my house!' To those who have no sense she says, 'Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.'" (Proverbs 9:1-6) Wisdom plans ahead. She makes everything ready for the guests she will invite. She wants to make her banquet as appealing as possible to those who are living wayward lives.

We've already learned that wisdom is eager to be found by the godly who seek her. Today her invitation is to those who have not come looking for her. She asks the simple to come to her house. She invites those who have been living thoughtless and aimless lives. The godly are already seated in her house, having already found her. She doesn't have to send invitations to them. Her invitations are sent to those who have not been seeking her, who are still going about their same old sinful lives. I am reminded of these words of the Lord Jesus, who said, "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32) The righteous are already in wisdom's house; it's the sinners she must compel to come in.

While she waits for her guests to arrive, wisdom gives some advice to her godly friends who are waiting with her. "Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever corrects the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning." (Proverbs 9:7-9) She says there is a right way and a wrong way to approach those who are scornful of God. Pointing our fingers at them and telling them what they are doing wrong is not likely to produce happy results. This doesn't mean we aren't to witness to the lost, but it does mean our witness must consist more of actions than of words. We have to be like Jesus. The sinners of Jesus' day were drawn to Him in droves because they saw something in Him they desperately craved: real love. It's a love that says, "I'm making you an invitation and you can come as you are. You can't make yourselves holy. You can't wash your own sins away. You can't robe yourselves in white linen or place crowns of righteousness on your heads. But I can! You don't have to do a thing but accept My invitation. I will do the rest." If we don't have a loving attitude toward the lost, we have no chance of leading them to Christ.

Wisdom states that those who already belong to the Lord, but who have gotten caught up in sin, are to be approached in a different way. A Christian can go privately to his Christian friend and say, "I'm concerned about the direction your life is taking. I love you and I'm worried about you. This type of behavior is not like you." Wisdom says that those who already belong to the Lord will benefit from rebuke and instruction. The wise person will appreciate the friend who comes to him and holds him accountable.

Remember how King David's friend and adviser, the prophet Nathan, came to him privately and rebuked him for his sins? It wasn't until then that David repented. He remained stubborn up to that point, refusing to acknowledge what he had done. But all of David's defenses crumbled when Nathan showed up. It hurt David that Nathan, whom he highly respected, had to come and speak to him about his wrongdoing. He knew Nathan had his best interests at heart. The prophet could easily have turned a blind eye to David's behavior, since David's sins paled in comparison those of the kings of other nations. Other kings committed murder and adultery on a regular basis. But Nathan knew this was not the type of man David was and could say to him, "Remember who you are in the Lord! You are on the wrong path, but you don't have to stay there. Don't you miss feeling close to the Lord? Don't you want to make things right with Him?" There have been times when people close to me have had to give me an attitude adjustment. It hurt, but I knew they were doing it out of love. I couldn't help listening to them because I respected them and I knew they had my best interests at heart. If I live long enough there will no doubt be other instances in which a friend will have to privately come to me and say, "I'm worried about you," and I hope I'm not foolish enough to shut my ears to their words.

It's never pleasant to have someone we love and respect come to us and talk to us about the wrong path we are on, but if we are wise we will heed godly instruction. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life. If you are wise, wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer." (Proverbs 9:10-12) Wisdom says, "If you scorn the word of God, you will only have yourself to blame."

Now we move on to the house of folly. She is portrayed as a lazy and sloppy woman. She didn't clean the house. She didn't call the caterers. She didn't order any hand-engraved invitations. She is just lolling about on the porch and yelling loudly at passersby in an unladylike way. "Folly is an unruly woman; she is simple and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, 'Let all who are simple come to my house!' To those who have no sense she says, 'Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!' But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead." (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The invitation of folly is extended to the same crowd as the invitation of wisdom. They both urge the simple to come to their houses. The are targeting the same group. But wisdom is aboveboard while folly is deceitful. The banquet wisdom offers her guests is wholesome and good for body and soul. The banquet folly offers is illicit and sinful. Wisdom says, "I serve nothing but the best! My buffet table holds only that which is good for you. These foods will nourish you body and soul. There is nothing here that will entice you into sin or damage your relationship with the Lord. There is nothing here that will bring you shame or regret." But folly says, "My food is rich and my buffet table is a smorgasbord of carnal delight. Why eat the bread you have earned or that which is freely given to you by God? Why not just take what you want, even if it belongs to someone else? Aren't you tired of the same old spouse day in and day out? Why not sneak around with someone else's husband or wife? Aren't you tired of working hard every week just to earn your measly paycheck? Why not embezzle some funds or cheat someone in a business deal? You deserve more money than you are making and you have a right to the good life! Just go ahead and take what you want. Who is going to know?"

Wisdom's invitation includes this P.S. written clearly in large letters at the bottom, "Leave your simple ways and you will live." Folly's invitation has a hidden P.S. written in invisible ink, "Enter my house and you will die."

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