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Wisdom’s Call – Pastor/Elder Paul Linzmeier

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Proverbs 9 highlights two voices calling out to the simple: one of wisdom and one of folly. Both call out to the same audience saying, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! And whoever lacks sense…” both with intent to sway the simple. Who are the simple? One possible definition is those who are still pliable, or easily influenced, or ignorant. They are those who still need to grow in wisdom. I think that’s all of us to some degree. The voice of wisdom and folly call out continually and do so in a manner to be heard, since they call out from the “highest places in town” (verses 3 and 14). But there are some key differences to take note of in the motives of the one calling and in the cost involved for each.

Let’s look at motive:

Wisdom further says, in verses 5-6 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 insight.”Wisdom acknowledges that the audience lacks understanding and she, having what they need, calls out saying, “Leave your simple ways” or it can also be rendered, “Leave the company of the simple.” The invitation is to join Lady Wisdom at her table and take in her food and drink for the simple to become wise. Her motive is selfless, solely for the simple to become wise, gain understanding and obtain life.

Folly on the other hand says,  in verses 17-18 “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. Those who follow this voice do not know that the dead are there, and her guests are in the depth of Sheol.” She too knows that the simple lack understanding and seeks to take advantage through deception, trickery, and the dangling of things that are supposedly free, sweet, and pleasant. She lures by playing off of the desires of the simple in order to ensnare them.

How about costs involved:

Wisdom invites at her own cost. She labored to build her house, setting up its carefully hewn pillars. In great generosity she prepared a grand feast and worked hard to set a table full of the best things (vs. 1-2) The work is done, the cost paid for, the table is prepared freely for those who would come. There also is a cost to the one who heeds wisdom’s invitation. In verse 7…”whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury”. One cost is persecution as the once simple, now being made wise, turn around and walk the other direction amongst a crowd of fools growing ever more foolish racing towards the stolen water and bread. It sounds like Jesus words, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospels will save it” Mark 8:36. The cost in following wisdom is death to your old, ignorant ways but the gain is of an immeasurable value: eternal life. 

Folly invites at another’s expense.  She says, “Stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Basically, follow me, it costs you nothing.  Here you go; take what I have stolen and gain pleasure, live and be happy; satisfy your lips and stomach. However, there is great cost written in the fine print, “but he does not know the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol (vs. 18).” This too is like Jesus’ words, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Mark 8:36)” The gain for heeding folly is fleeting pleasure now, but the cost is eternal death in the end.

What is our response?

In an age where we can search almost anything online, what kinds of voices are we listening to? Both wisdom and folly are calling out continually and can appear the same at first. But the one who is wise (who fears the Lord, vs 10) will look intently and make a diligent search to see whether the voice aligns with the Word of God and do well to count the cost. Guard your ears and those of your children with The Word.

“If you are wise you, are wise for yourself (vs 12). This is personal; each person must (young people included) consider the call of wisdom and respond. For apart from heeding wisdom’s voice, all will inevitably walk into folly like a moth drawn into the flame. This is a call to all who are willing to hear. Don’t scoff! If you scoff, saying, “Hmph! I don’t need this wisdom. I’m just fine, look, I have all I need and am satisfied and happy.” This proverb warns us, “If you scoff, you alone will bear it” (vs. 12). You will bear the consequences of your scoffing, receiving further dullness of hearing that causes you to be more firmly set on your course to Sheol, the land of the dead.  No one will be able to plead ignorance before the judge on the last day as if they never heard wisdom’s voice as it says in Romans 1:20 “…So they are without excuse.” Our only hope is to turn to and fall on the mercy of Christ.

It is Christ the wisdom of God who has paid the great cost for our folly. By His sacrificial death to pay for sin and in His resurrection He has set His table and prepared a feast of good rich food that leads to eternal life for those who come by faith and eat. The work is already done; it is finished! His invitation goes out to all. And at his table, true fellowship can exist with Him and amongst those being made wise in the fear of the Lord, for His house is firmly established, secure and un-threatened forever. Praise the Lord! Let us listen diligently to His voice.

Pastor Paul


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