Proverbs ~ Chapter 9
Chapter Overview and Outline:
Continuing with the 17th of the 17 lessons found in the prologue of the book of Proverbs, Chapters 1-9, that began in Prov 8:32, we turn to the epilogue chapter of the prologue.
Here we have three main parts:
- Wisdom’s final exhortation to receive her.
- Introductory principles of wisdom applied, that give us a glimpse into the design of the rest of the book.
- A final depiction of the adulterous woman “folly.”
Chapter 9 presents us with a choice that was described in Prov 8:35-36 as sharply as possible, life or death. This chapter continues that discussion comparing the two rivals, the woman “Wisdom” versus the woman “Folly”, the former bringing life, the latter death.
The chapter begins and ends by telling us of the “Rival Banquets of Wisdom and Folly”, as Bruce Waltke calls it. He goes on to say that this book is, “the antithesis between the unfaithful wife and Woman Wisdom in the prologue, which was reaching toward a climax in the two great paired poems, chapters 7 and 8, is now brought to its apex.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.)
Proverbs 9 serves an important function, placing for the first time the two figures of “Wisdom” and “Folly” side by side, describing them in similar ways, vs. 1ff, 13ff, quoting their invitations, which begin identically, vs. 4, 16, but dramatically diverge, vs. 5f, 17.
In this chapter we are given a comparison of their competing invitation to a marriage feast, vs. 1-5, compared to vs. 13-17, as well as the results of those who would accept their respect invitations, vs. 6 compared to vs. 18.
“In Chapter 8 “wisdom” was personified as a heavenly figure, and in Chapter 7 the “unfaithful wife” as a streetwalker emerging out of darkness. Now here in the epilogue “wisdom” is depicted as a noble patroness and “folly” as a pretentious hostess. Both invite the gullible to their houses for a feast. “Wisdom”, out of true love, competes for the hearts of the uncommitted, while “folly”, out of erotic lust, competes for their bodies. “Wisdom” invites them to leave behind their old identification and become wise at her sumptuous feast, while “folly” lures those who have been going straight to turn aside, mindless of the consequences, at her profligate, (extravagantly wasteful), and self-indulgent meal. Those who accept “Wisdom’s” invitation will live; the apostates will die.” (Bruce Waltke, New International Commentary.) (Brackets Mine)
The structural center of the chapter, although not numerical, is vs. 10 that reflects the beginning of the prologue, Prov 1:7, and encloses all nine chapters within the theme of “the fear of the Lord.”
A more detailed comparison of the two women in Chapter 9 includes:
|Preparation for the meal:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1-3||“Folly” – vs. 13-15|
|· Designation:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1a||“Folly” – vs. 13a|
|· Activity / attributes:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1a-3||“Folly” – vs. 13a-15|
|· Calling:||“Wisdom” – vs. 3a||“Folly” – vs. 15|
|· Location:||“Wisdom” – vs. 3b||“Folly” – vs. 14b|
|Invitation:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4-5||“Folly” – vs. 16-17|
|· Invitation to gullible:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4a||“Folly” – vs. 16a|
|· Invitation to brainless:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4b||“Folly” – vs. 16b|
|· Offer of symbolic foods:||“Wisdom” – vs. 5||“Folly” – vs. 17|
|Conclusion: Life or Death:||“Wisdom” – vs. 6||“Folly” – vs. 18|
Both woman have similar methods in that they both sit in the most noticeable places of the city, Prov 8:2, 3; 9:3, cf. vs. 14, and appeal to the naïve, Prov 8:6; 9:5, cf. vs. 16.
Yet “wisdom” offers rewards that are more valuable than the riches of this world, Prov 8:10, 11, 18, 19, and the woman “folly” recommends the sweetness of “stolen waters” and the pleasantness of “bread eaten in secret” vs. 17, which we will note below.
The consequences connected with these choices are also completely opposite. The guests of “wisdom” receive many blessings, Prov 8:34-35, but those who turn to foolishness perish and pass into the depths of hell, vs. 18.
As we have seen, Proverbs 1-8 warned against various forms of folly (wicked companions, adultery, pledging surety, laziness) and exhorted the student to seek “wisdom”, often with vivid descriptions of the benefits of obedience, e.g., Prov 3:13-17; 8:10f, 18-21, 35, and the consequences of rejecting her counsel, e.g., Prov 1:26-32; 2:19; 3:33f; 7:26f; 8:36. So here we have a final warning by showing side by side the differences between a life of righteousness to that of wickedness.
“What is certain is that the structure, found throughout Proverbs, reflects the author’s focus on the choice entailed in this opposition, the choice common to the entire prologue, i.e., the choice of life or death.” (Complete Biblical Library Commentary)
In between the comparison between “wisdom” and “folly” is the intervening section of vs. 7-12, which is instruction for the naïve or gullible, who are still teachable, as compared to the wicked and scoffers who are rebuked for being incorrigible and un-teachable.
We begin this chapter by understanding each verse and the figurative language it uses to understand the overall principles of these passages.
Prov 9:1, “Wisdom has built her house, she has hewn out her seven pillars.”
“Wisdom” is the Feminine Plural Noun CHOKMOTH the synonymous word to CHOKMAH meaning “wisdom.”
“Has built” is the Qal Perfect of BANAH, בָּנָה that means, “to build, construct, or fashion.” It means to bring something into existence through a particular type of craftsmanship.
This contrasts “wisdom’s” industry and skill with the pretentious, “foolish” woman’s laziness and ineptitude, as she only “sits” at the opening of her house, Prov 9:14.
BANAH is first used in Gen 2:22 for God’s creation of the woman in the Garden of Eden, when He took a rib from Adam’s side and fashioned it into a beautiful helpmate for him.
Figuratively, this word often has the connotation of “to establish.” It is used this way for the two wives of Jacob/Israel, Rachel and Leah, who were said to have “built the house of Israel,” referring to the establishment of the Israelites as a people in Ruth 4:11.
In this regard, as noted in our study of the great wedding feast of our Lord, we see that there is a bride-ship for Israel and one for the Church. As you know, the gentiles of the Church Age are the wild olive branches grafted into the natural olive tree of Israel in Rom 11:17-24.
Similarly, in Gen 16:2, the barren Sarai (Sarah) encouraged Abram (Abraham) her husband to use her slave Hagar as a surrogate, so that Sarai might “be built up from her” (that is, legally obtain children by her; cf. Gen 30:3.)
Finally, of note is Zech 6:13, which is a prophecy of our Lord as the “branch” who will “build the temple of the Lord”, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ as the King-Priest and his eternal kingship fulfilling the Davidic Covenant, in the order of Melchizedek, Heb 6:20-7:1ff.
What is built here? “her house”, BAYITH, בַּיִת, that means, “house or household.”
“She has hewn out” is the Qal Perfect of CHATSAB (chatsav), חָצַב, that means, “to dig, cleave, divide, hew, make, cut out, dig out, etc.” It is used for digging out a well of water, cutting stones for the temple, etc.
Hosea used CHATSAB metaphorically to describe the effect of the Lord’s prophets on Israel, “Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth”, Hosea 6:5.
Isaiah instructed the righteous to remember the foundations of their faith, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn and to the quarry from which you were dug”, Isa 51:1.
“Seven Pillars” is the number seven, SHEVA, שֶׁבַע, with the noun AMMUD, עַמּוּד, that means, “tent support, pillar, column, or post.” It is typically used for the supports of a house or the temple, i.e., Ex 26:32. But it is first used in the singular regarding the Lord going before the nation of Israel in the Pillar of a cloud by day and fire by night, in Ex 13:21-22.
The meaning of the seven pillars has been debated over the years. Various suggestions include the pillars of a temple, the “seven heavens” or the seven pillars that support the world, or a feature of domestic architecture. As noted above, pillars were used in larger houses to support a second-floor portico around the central courtyard, yet most houses only had four pillars. But in larger houses more pillars were used. The Complete Biblical Library Commentary states, “Since Wisdom has boasted of her wealth, e.g., Prov 8:18-21, it is fitting that she live in a house that reflects her status.”
Now, just out of interest, tying this passage into our study of the Jewish wedding customs: In modern day Jewish weddings there are “seven blessings”, (Sheva Brachot), that are said while under the “CHUPPAH” which are recited over a cup of wine at the conclusion of the ceremony, that may speak of the foundation of the marriage itself being God Himself.
As Charles Ryrie notes, a seven pillared house represents an “ideally constructed house”, in his footnotes of this passage. And a house of seven pillars tells us she has built a perfect house that has plenty of room to entertain everyone, cf. John 14:2.
Now back to our main understanding of “seven pillars.” As you know, SHEVA, the number seven, is the number of “spiritual perfection” throughout scripture and AMMUD stands for that which “supports” and is a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. So combined they describe for us the Word of God.
As Waltke notes, this may be figurative language for the book of Proverbs itself. He notes, “The representation of “wisdom” as having built her house and prepared her banquet may represent figuratively the prologue and the collections respectively. The house (i.e., the introductory prologue) is now finished, and the banquet (i.e., the proverbs of Solomon) is about to begin. Her messengers (i.e., the parents) have been sent to invite the uncommitted and dull youth to eat and drink her sumptuous fare. Their sons are already waiting for Wisdom to open her doors.” (Waltke, New International Commentary.)
So the “house built on seven pillars” most likely represents the Word of God who has been beautifully fashioned into the “woman wisdom” by our Lord.
Next in Prov 9:2, we have, “She has prepared her food, she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table.”
“She has prepared her food”, is a nice way of saying what the Hebrew literally says, with the Verb TABACH, טָבַח in the Qal Perfect, and the noun TEBACH, טֶבַח, for “she has slaughtered or butchered her slaughter.”
TABACH refers to butchery, not sacrifice, which probably shows that this is not a religious feast, but one more on the lines with a wedding feast, as compared to the adulterous woman’s false worship preparation of Prov 7:14-18.
“She has mixed her wine”, is the Qal Perfect Verb MASAK, מָסַךְ, “to mix”, with the Noun YAYIN, יַיִן, for “wine.” Interestingly, this mixing sometimes means to add water to the wine, which gives us a picture of our Lord on the Cross, when His blood was mixed with water at the piercing of His side, John 19:34.
Note also Hebrew 9:19-20, “For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, “THIS IS THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD COMMANDED YOU.” cf. 1 John 5:6-8.
In addition, in Lev 14:6, 51-52, the one to be cleansed from leprosy was to be sprinkled seven times with a live bird dipped in the blood of a bird slain over running water. Then the live bird was set free. Another picture of the Cross and our freedom from the slavery of sin. cf. Ex 4:9; 7:17-21.
“She has set her table”, is the Qal Perfect Verb ARAK, עָרַךְ, “to prepare, arrange, or set in order for the purpose of accomplishing a beneficial task or goal”, with the Noun SHULCAN, שֻׁלְחָן, for “table.”
ARAK is never found to indicate something done randomly or arbitrarily, but always something planned or organized. For example, wood for fire was arranged on an altar by Abraham in preparation to sacrifice Isaac to God, Gen 22:9, by priests in the Tent of Meeting, Lev 1:7f, 12, and by Elijah during his showdown with the prophets of Baal upon Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:33. All are references to the completed work of Christ and the power of the Cross, the bride price of the marriage contract.
The particle that begins vs. 2b “and”, APH, אַף, for “and, also, indeed, etc.”, may be better translated as “even,” as in “she has even arranged her table”, cf. Psa 23:5, which may indicate that her preparation went beyond the usual meal. In addition, that animal(s) were slaughtered and wine prepared shows that this was an important meal, given in honor of special guests, cf. Gen 18:1-8; 43:16.
So in vs. 1 & 2 of this closing poem of the prologue, we have a picture of vigorous action represented by five verbs in five lines, (built, hewn, prepared, mixed, and set) all in the Qal Perfect for completed action.
This action is a dramatic change from “wisdom’s” passivity in Prov 8:22-31. Here “wisdom” is described as strenuously preparing for the guests, whom she is about to invite into the house, which she has built, cf. Prov 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house.” This contrasts sharply with “Folly’s” lack of preparation, as no activity is mentioned in vs. 13f.
The picture here of flesh, wine, and a table set also reminds us of the communion table, where we partake of the body and blood of our Lord, based on His strenuous activity accomplished upon the Cross in the payment of the penalty of our sins. And by our partaking of the cup, we are reconfirming our belief in Him, which is our acceptance of the marriage contract He has presented to us, His bride!
Prov 9:3, “She has sent out her maidens, she calls from the tops of the heights of the city.”
“She has sent out her maidens”, is the Qal Perfect Verb SHALACH, שָׁלַח, for “to send or put out” with the Feminine Plural Noun NAARAH, נַעֲרָה for, “young girls, virgins, or maid servants.”
Some believe this to mean she “dismisses” her servants, as would be the custom prior to the guests sitting down, which would signify the completion of the preparations for the banquet. But most interpreters believe this is used as part of the invitation process to call the guests to let them know the banquet has been prepared and is ready for them to partake of it. cf. Psa 68:11; Isa 40:9.
Therefore, as the woman “wisdom” (Bible Doctrine) continues to speak, this is the final stage of her preparation for the great banquet that is now ready. It is the extension of her invitation beyond the sound of her voice, which we see in the second part of this verse.
In the Jewish wedding feast analogy, this would be the bridesmaids who are the most intimate of friends with the Bride, ever vigilant and caring for her, and doting over her to ensure success for the wedding day. In the parable of the 10 virgins or NAARAH’s they too were waiting for the bridegroom (the Word of God) and had to have oil ready for their lamps.
This is the 6th of six Qal Perfect actions in vs. 1-3. Six being the number of man, (that is mankind), gives us an indication as to who is in view here.
In the analogy of the seven pillared house being the Word of God, these maid servants represent the prophets and teachers of the Word of God, whose house (church) becomes her (wisdom’s) house, as they are the most intimate with her, caring for her and doting over her to ensure success for the wedding day of the congregation to the Lamb.
Bruce Waltke notes, “The servant girls represent the sages, such as the father and mother, who teach Solomon’s wisdom.” He also quotes Malbim who says, “This denotes that man does not receive wisdom directly, but through the sages, prophets, and teachers … who invite him to the exalted banqueting-hall of wisdom.” (New International Commentary, [Meir Leibush Malbim, The Book of Proverbs, abridged and adapted in English by Rabbi Charles Wengrov, based on an original draft by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (Jerusalem and New York: Feldheim, 1973), pp. 88-89.])
Then we have “she calls from the tops of the heights of the city.”
This phrase begins with a Qal Imperfect Verb for future or incomplete action, the latter is in view here. The verb “calls” is QARA, קָרָא, that means, “to call”, and in the Imperfect it means to continue to call. The basic meaning of QARA is the, “act of making a vocal sound to establish contact with someone.” In connection with a feast, it means, “to invite.”
For the unbeliever this is the common grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit to continually present the gospel of Jesus Christ in an understandable way. For the naïve, gullible, brainless, spiritually immature believer, this is the grace of God via (Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) to continually make His Word available through positive Pastor-Teachers teaching the Word of God on a consistent basis.
Likewise, as in Prov 8:2, she calls from the “heights”, MAROM, מָרוֹם, of the “city”, QERETH, קֶרֶת. Here we have a double emphasis of the “high places” with “tops”, GAPH, גַּף used only here and meaning “elevation.” It may mean from the, “walls of the city” or “from on top of the Temple,” the highest place in the city.
This is her invitation which, as we have seen before, she gives from a very public place, and in a prominent part of the city, cf. Prov 1:20-21; 8:1-4. This is in contrast to “Folly’s” invitation, given from her seated position by her doorway, vs. 14. The Word of God searches for you; while Satan’s cosmic system seeks to ensnare you, Prov 7:23.
Wisdom’s invitation is open to all who hear, not secret or private, and not limited to a certain few friends, just as the teaching of God’s Word is available to all who desire to hear it.
Then beginning in vs. 4 and running through vs. 6, we have the details of the invitation.
Prov 9:4, “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here! To him who lacks understanding she says.”
The first part of this verse identifies who the invitation is for. The second part introduces the details of the banquet they are invited to.
The first part begins with the interrogative MI for “who or whoever” with “naïve” PETHIY, פֶּתִי for “inexperienced, simple, or naïve.” It represents the immature or reversionistic believer. cf. Prov 1:4; 22, 32; 7:7; 8:5. These are the people “wisdom” and her maidens are calling out to and inviting to the banquet of Bible Doctrine.
As Proverbs tells us the “simple” are unable to discern truth from falsehood, and they believe in everything, Prov 14:15. They do not know how to detect danger and avoid it, with the result that they go straight to it and suffer for it, Prov 22:3; 27:12.
Nevertheless, the call assumes that the naive will recognize that they need instruction and because they are “invited”, it tells us that they are teachable and there is hope that they will learn and grow in the knowledge of God’s Word, and one day have wisdom and understanding themselves. They are not hopeless!
“Turn in here” is the Qal Jussive Verb SUR, סוּר that means, “to leave, to deviate, to turn aside, or to go away.” This is the desire of “wisdom”, that the naïve one turns from their walk in sin and Satan’s cosmic system to instead learn Bible doctrine so as to grow to maturity and stop being tossed here and there by every wind of false doctrine.
Eph 4:14, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.”
James 1:5-6, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.”
The woman “wisdom” is inviting them to “enter her house and partake of the banquet”, i.e., to come hear Bible Doctrine and partake of her feast (the principles and precepts of doctrine) which she has prepared. They are exhorted to turn to the truth of God’s Word rather than continuing to live inside of Satan’s Cosmic System.
Then in the phrase “to him who lacks understanding,” we have the introduction to the details of the banquet, reiterating those who are the invited guests.
It begins with the Adjective “lacks” CHASER, חָסֵר that means, “in need of, lacking, needy, or in want of”, plus the Noun “understanding” LEB, לֵב for “heart”, the right lobe of your soul. Literally, as we have seen previously, it is “lacking in heart” that means lacking Bible Doctrine resident in their soul, which means lacking wisdom, understanding, and discernment in life.
Then in Prov 9:5, “Come, eat of my food and drink of the wine I have mixed” we have the details of the meal of the banquet she has prepared in vs. 2.
As we noted in vs. 2, she has “butchered her slaughter” and “mixed her wine” where we have a picture of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But here we have a different phrase. It begins with two Qal Imperative verbs of command or exhortation for “come and eat” with HALAK, “to come or go, walk, etc.” and LACHAM לָחַם for “to eat.”
“My food” is the noun LECHEM, לֶחֶם that means, “bread, anything used as food, or to eat.”
Interestingly in vs. 2, the words for “Prepared and food” were the Verb TABACH for “slaughter or butcher” and the noun TEBACH, טֶבַח, for “the slaughter”, yet here we have LACHAM LECHEM for “eat and bread.”
Clearly, we are seeing the picture of Jesus Christ on the Cross who was crucified for our sins, giving His life that He previously and afterwards represented in the sharing of “bread” with the disciples. We are to partake of the body of Christ in the Eucharist ritual signifying our acceptance of the “Bride Price,” which reminds us of what our Lord did on the Cross and demonstrates our faith in Him. And remember, only believers benefit from the communion table. It means nothing to the unbeliever.
“And drink of the wine I have mixed”
With LACHAM LECHEM, we have the coordinating Conjunction WE, “and”, with the Qal Imperative SHATHAH, שָׁתָה for “drink” with the Noun YAYIN, יַיִן for “wine” and the Qal Perfect of MASAK, מָסַךְ for “I have mixed”, which connotes mixing water with the wine, as we also noted in vs. 2. Therefore, we are commanded to drink of the wine that has been previously mixed with water, with the result that it continues into the present (the Qal Perfect).
Wine typically represents the blood of Christ that represents His spiritual death upon the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
Water typically represents the Word of God, the mind of Christ.
As we mentioned above, all three elements speak of the Cross of Jesus Christ and His saving sacrifice on our behalf, Isa 55:1-3; John 6:35.
Isa 55:1-3, “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.”
John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst’.”
Just as food and drink give physical life, God’s Word gives spiritual life. cf. Luke 14:15-24.
Finally, “wisdom’s” invitation stands sharply opposed to the diet of the wicked, as “they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence”, Prov 4:17.
Then in Prov 9:6, the final verse of the invitation, we have, “Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.”
Remember, this calling is for the believer. It is the exhortation for the immature and reversionistic believer to change their mode of operation living inside of Satan’s Cosmic System, by taking in the Word of God on a consistent basis. “Wisdom” pictures repentance as changing direction on the road of life.
Here we have three Qal Imperative verbs, “Forsake” AZAB, עָזַב (azav), “forsake, leave, or abandon”; “live” CHAYAH חָיָה, “live or remain alive”; and “proceed” ASHAR, אָשַׁר, “proceed, walk, lead, or blessed.” Therefore, there are three action items for the immature or reversionistic believer: Abandon, Live, Proceed, which is synonymous with Rebound, Learn, and Grow!
As we have seen, the stakes are high in accepting or rejecting “wisdom’s” invitation; it is a matter of life and death, Prov 3:18; 4:13, 22; 5:6, 6:23; 8:32-35.
The ones who are to forsake their current manner of life are the PETHAYIM, (the plural form of PETHIY for, “inexperienced or simple ones”), the immature or reversionistic believers.
Literally, this verse should read, “Forsake O simple ones and live….”
To “live”, as we have seen, is a life of quantity and quality in our days serving the Lord, bringing Him maximum glorification while storing up for ourselves maximum rewards and blessings for time and the eternal state. Therefore, the invitation to the immature and reversionistic believers is to abandon their walk inside of Satan’s cosmic system and instead proceed by the “way of understanding” DEREK BINAH, i.e., God’s Word.
Those who identified themselves as naive are to leave gullibility behind by attending “wisdom’s” banquet, i.e., learning God’s Word through GAP, (the Grace Apparatus for Perception).
In summary, the invitation calls out to the immature or reversionistic believer to first remember the Cross of Jesus Christ, as they have to start at ground zero in their understanding of Scripture, then turn from Satan’s cosmic system which they have been habitually living in, and then go forward learning the Word of God, growing spiritually each and every day, which reminds us of Phil 3:13-14, “Forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
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In the opening poem of Prov 9, in vs. 1-6, we are given a picture of the woman “wisdom” preparing a great feast for all her invited guests. This imagery is used throughout scripture to tell us of what our Father in heaven has done for us and all of mankind. It is the imagery of a great wedding feast that will be celebrated in the end times. Therefore, we are going to study:
“Jewish Marriage Customs Related to the Church”
In the Jewish custom of marriage, there are aspects of the engagement, betrothal, and marriage process that our Lord used throughout scripture to tell us of the Church’s relationship to Him. To better understand our relationship with the Lord, I want to share with you the customs of the Jewish wedding process, and show you how God and Jesus Christ have, and will, fulfill them.
Our Lord said in Mat 22:2, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”
This parable sets the stage for what the Jewish wedding customs mean to mankind. This passage continues to vs. 14 and tells us that “many are called, but few are chosen.”
First off, we need to note that all of mankind is “called” to the wedding feast, which means that they are called to salvation under the common grace ministry of God the Holy Spirit to present the gospel (the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the Cross) and make it understandable to them. “Few are chosen” indicates God the Father’s omniscient foreknowledge of man’s belief or unbelief in the gospel message coupled with His sovereignty to elect those who would believe to salvation. cf. Rom 8:29-30. The election of the believer is something God the Father knew billions of years ago. He knew who would believe in Christ and who would not, and He elected those who would respond positively to His Call.
Also in John 14:2-3, our Lord said, “In My Father’s house are many rooms. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And, if I go to prepare and place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Here our Lord promises to return and then take us to a home, which He has prepared for us. When that will occur, no one but the Father knows.
Mat 24:36 and 44, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. … 44For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”
This is called our Lord’s “imminent” return. Our sole responsibility is to be ready for His return, whenever that may be.
Mat 25:10-13, “… the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut…”
John the Baptist, referring to himself as the “friend of the Bridegroom” and to Jesus as the Bridegroom said in John 3:29, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full.”
Rev 19:7-8, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. 8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
Each of these verses are a direct correlation to the Jewish wedding customs, as we will note below, telling us of our relationship with the Lord.
The Word of God (ELOHIM) is basically the story of a wedding, from start to finish. It is a love story of a loving Father, seeking the perfect Bride for His Son, Jesus Christ, (YHVH). He is searching for a bride who is totally devoted, pure of heart, in love only to Him, submitted and perfect in His sight. Such a picture of this is found in Gen 24:1-67, where Abraham sent out his servant to find the perfect bride for Isaac.
In the basic structure of the ancient Jewish wedding ceremony, you will see a Father, a Bridegroom, a servant, and the bride. Each of these are represented by
Father = God the Father.
Bridegroom = God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Servant = God the Holy Spirit.
Bride = The Church, Eph 5:22-33. Israel also has a bride analogy that will be fulfilled, Isa 54:5-8.
Isa 54:5-6, “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the LORD of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth. 6For the LORD has called you, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,” says your God.”
Notice that Israel was the betrothed, yet has been rejected – temporarily. As the passage continues, we see Israel will be restored to her place of prominence.
Isa 54:7-8, “For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. 8In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD your Redeemer.”
This compared with Eph 5:22-33, (which clearly indicates the Church as the Bride of Christ), tells us the whole story. In our study, we will focus on the Church as the Bride of Christ according to New Testament Scriptures.
So what does Scripture mean when it refers to the Church as a bride and Jesus as a bridegroom? Is this just flowery language? Is it merely indicating God’s love for His people? Understanding ancient Jewish wedding customs and practices makes the meaning of Scripture clear. The wedding is a picture of the covenant Jesus made with His bride and reveals His plans to return for her, the Church.
The Jews of the early Church understood what Jesus was going to do, because they understood the model of the wedding. We have lost much of this custom in our day so we have to go back and understand the Jewish wedding customs to better understand what our Lord has done and will do for us, His Bride.
The following is an overview of the ancient customs and practices of a Jewish betrothal and wedding. In parallel, it shows how Jesus has fulfilled the betrothal portion of the wedding, and how He will fulfill the remainder when He comes again for His bride, in this case the Church.
Marriage Covenant and Bride Price.
The Contract: When a young man desired to marry a young woman in ancient Israel, he would prepare a contract or covenant to present to the young woman and her father at the young woman’s home. The contract showed his willingness to provide for the young woman and described the terms under which he would propose marriage. The most important part of the contract was the “bride price”, the price that the young man was willing to pay to marry the young woman. This payment was to be made to the young woman’s father in exchange for his permission to marry her. The “bride price” was generally quite high. The “bride price” compensated the young woman’s family for the cost to raise a daughter and also indicated the love that the young man had for the young woman (the young woman was very valuable to the young man), Prov 12:4: 18:22; 19:14)
Prov 19:14, “House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.”
So the young man would go to the young woman’s house with the contract and present his offer to the young woman and her father.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Jesus came to the home of His bride (earth) to present His marriage contract. The marriage contract provided by Jesus is the New Covenant, which provides for the forgiveness of sins of God’s people, Jer 31:31; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:8-13; 9:15ff; Heb 12:24.
Luke 22:20, “And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
Jesus paid the “bride price” with His life. At the last supper, when breaking bread, He spoke of the price He was paying: “This is my body given for you…”, Luke 22:20.
Hebrews 9:15 makes it clear that Jesus died as the price for the new covenant: “Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.”
Other Scripture references include: 1 Cor 6:19-20, 1 Peter 1:18-19, Acts 20:28; John 3:29.
1 Cor 6:20, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
The marriage contract, the New Covenant, is described throughout Scripture:
Jer 31:31-34, “… 33This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the LORD. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people… 34…they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Once Jesus’ work on the Cross was completed, He presented His finished work (the contract) to God the Father in Heaven.
In John 20:17, when Jesus told Mary to “stop clinging to Him”, He said, “I have not yet ascended to the Father”, this ascension was right after His resurrection, so He could present His finished work of the Cross to the Father, that is, present the marriage contract with the “bride price” having been paid.
The Cup of Contract.
Cup of Acceptance: If the “bride price” was agreeable to the young woman’s father, the young man would pour a glass of wine from the wine skin he brought with him for the young woman and her father. If the Father approves of the marriage, the girl is called in and they all drink the wine together. If the young woman drank the wine, it would indicate her acceptance of the proposal. In the drinking of the wine, she commits herself to the young man. At this point, the young man and young woman would be betrothed. Betrothal was legally binding, just like a marriage. The only difference was that the marriage was not yet consummated.
A typical betrothal (KIDDUSHIN) period was from 6 months up to 2 years. During this time the bride and bridegroom would each be preparing for the marriage and would not necessarily see each other.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Just as the bridegroom would pour a cup of wine for the bride to drink to seal the marriage contract, so Jesus poured wine for His disciples during the Passover supper. He poured the 3rd cup, the redemption (purchasing) cup, and shared it with the disciples. The disciples drank of the Cup, thus accepting the contract.
His words described the significance of the cup in representing the “bride price” for the marriage contract.
Mat 26:28-29, “For this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29“But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” The disciples drank of the Cup, thus accepting the contract. cf. Mat 20:23.
Note in vs. 29, Jesus will not drink of this fruit until He returns for His Bride, which speaks of another aspect of the Jewish wedding customs we will see below.
This cup also gives us a better understanding of why Christ said in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mat 26:39, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” cf. Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 18:11. The Cup He was speaking about was the “bride price” of the marriage contract, His completed work upon the Cross.
We too drink of the Eucharist cup, sharing in the contract agreement, 1 Cor 11:23-26.
Gifts for the Bride.
The Giving of Gifts: Next, the bridegroom would present the bride with special gifts. The purpose of these gifts was to show the bridegroom’s appreciation of the bride. They were also intended to help her to remember him during the long betrothal period.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: The gifts that Jesus gave us are: 1) the giving of the Holy Spirit, and 2) Spiritual gifts which He gave and those given by the Holy Spirit.
Eph 4:8, “Therefore it says, “WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.”
1 John 4:13, “We know that we live in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.”
Jesus described this gift in John 14:26, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Heb 2:4, “God also testifying with them (angels [i.e., the Law] and Jesus), both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”
The MIKVEH (MIQWEH, מִקְוֶה).
The Mikveh: The bride would next partake of a Mikveh, or cleansing bath. Mikveh is the same word used for hope in the Old Testament and is synonymous with baptism. To this day in Conservative Judaism, a bride cannot marry without a Mikveh. She would take a cleansing bath to prepare herself for her bridegroom in the hope, (i.e., confident expectation) of his return to gather her to himself.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: The Mikveh, or baptism that Jesus provided for His bride was the baptism of the Holy Spirit. On one occasion, while He was eating with them, He gave them this command:
Acts 1:4, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
This is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is His permanent indwelling of God the Holy Spirit, which represents our cleansing of sins based on our faith in the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This is the sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit until the day of our salvation, which is the day the Lord returns to collect us to Himself. cf. 2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:12-14; 4:30.
Eph 1:12-14, “To the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”
The Bridegroom Prepares a Place.
Preparing a Place: During the betrothal period, the bridegroom would prepare a wedding chamber for the consummation of the marriage and honeymoon, called a “CHUPPAH” (honeymoon bed). This chamber was typically built in the bridegroom’s father’s house. The wedding chamber had to be a beautiful place to bring the bride. The bride and groom were to spend seven days there. The wedding chamber had to be built to the groom’s father’s specifications. The young man could go for his bride only when his father approved. As the bridegroom prepared this place, if he was asked when the wedding was to be, he would say, “It is not for me to know, only my father knows.”
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Just as a bridegroom would have told his bride that he would go to prepare a place for her, so Jesus told His disciples: John 13:1-3, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
In ancient Israel, the bridegroom could get his bride only after his father approved. Similarly, Jesus said in Mark 13:32-33, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.”
In fact, Jesus knew and knows full well when the Rapture of the Church will happen because He is Omniscient God, but in Jewish tradition of the wedding customs, He stated, “no one knows the day or hour but My Father.” This had to do with preparedness on the part of the bride, to keep her ever ready for the return of her betrothed, just as we are to be ever ready for the imminent return of our Lord.
A Waiting Bride Consecrated.
The Waiting Bride Consecrated: While the bridegroom was preparing the wedding chamber, the bride was considered to be consecrated, set apart or “bought with a price.” During this time, she prepared herself for the marriage. She would purchase expensive cosmetics and learn to apply them to make herself more beautiful for the bridegroom. She would not know when her groom would come for her, so she always had to be ready. Since bridegrooms typically came for their brides in the middle of the night, to “steal them away”, the bride would have to have her lamp and her belongings ready at all times. Her sisters or bridesmaids would also be waiting, keeping their lamps trimmed in anticipation of the late night festivities.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: We, God’s people, are now consecrated, set apart, or sanctified, waiting for the return of our bridegroom. One of the 40 things we receive at salvation is sanctification, being made holy, Acts 26:18; 1 Cor 1:2; 6:11; Eph 5:25-27; 1 Thes 5:23; Heb 2:11; 10:10, 14.
1 Cor 6:11, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
In addition, we prepare and adorn ourselves with the intake and application of God’s Word on a daily basis (experiential sanctification) where we produce Divine Good, (fruit of the spirit), which will constitute our wedding clothes, Rev 19:7-8.
Rev 19:7-8, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. 8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”
Therefore, we should be spending this time preparing ourselves for Jesus’ return. Jesus used a parable of ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to describe the need to be alert for His return, Mat 25:1-13, cf. 1 Cor 1:4-9.
1 Cor 1:7, “So that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mat 25:13, “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”
Bridegroom Comes for His Bride.
Bridegroom Comes for His Bride: When the bridegroom’s father deemed the wedding chamber ready, the father would tell the bridegroom that all was ready and to get His bride. The bridegroom would abduct his bride secretly, like a thief at night, and take her to the wedding chamber. As the bridegroom approached the bride’s home, he would shout and blow the SHOFAR (ram’s horn trumpet) so that she had some warning to gather her belongings to take into the wedding chamber. The bridegroom and his friends would come into the bride’s house and get the bride and her bridesmaids.
He comes for his bride with great fanfare, trumpets, his servants and friends and family. It is a joyful day when he comes to receive his bride for the wedding ceremony. There is music and dancing and rejoicing. (Interestingly in John 2 the wedding at Cana is where Jesus performed His first miracle.)
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Just as the bridegroom would come for the bride in the middle of the night like a thief, yet with a shout and the sound of a SHOFAR, so the Lord will come for us.
Mat 25:6-7, “But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7“Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps.” cf. Mark 13:35-37.
1 Thes 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thes 5:1-2, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
Interestingly the term, “no man knows the day or the hour” is a catch-phrase for the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh ha Shanah), for it is always over 2-days around the earth. Three trumpets are blown during that 2-day time period. And, everyone waits for the “last trump”, when according to Jewish tradition, the gates of heaven open and the righteous ascend to heaven, while the fate of the wicked is sealed. We know this to the day of 1 Thes 4:16-17, the Rapture or Resurrection of the Church, which will occur on the Feast of Trumpets.
The words of the wedding ceremony are from Psalm 45, and Isaiah 61:10-62:5; “…as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall ELOHIM rejoice over you.”
Seven Days in the Wedding Chamber.
In the Wedding Chamber 7 Days: The bridegroom would take his bride to the wedding chamber where they would spend seven days. The bridegroom’s friend would wait outside the door of the wedding chamber. When the marriage was consummated, the bridegroom would tell his friend through the door, and the friend would announce it to the assembled guests. The guests would celebrate for seven days until the bride and bridegroom emerged from the wedding chamber.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Jewish eschatology, Dan 9:27, taught that a seven year “time of Jacob’s trouble / distress”, Jer 30:7, would come upon the earth before the coming of the Messiah. During that time of trouble, the righteous would be resurrected and would enter the wedding chamber where they would be protected from the time of trouble. Today that seven-year period is referred to as the Tribulation.
The seven days in the chamber correspond to the seven days between the end of the Feast of Trumpets (2-day feast, 1st – 2nd Tishri), and the Day of Atonement (starts on the 10th Tishri), when the Lord will return with His bride at the end of the Tribulation, Rev 19:11f.
The Marriage Supper: After seven days in the wedding chamber, the bride and bridegroom would emerge and participate in a feast with friends and family. There would be joyous celebrating during this feast. The feast would conclude the wedding celebration.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: As the bride and bridegroom celebrated with a joyous wedding supper, so Jesus and His bride, the church will celebrate the marriage.
Rev 19:6-9, “Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.7Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’”
The Bride and Groom Would Depart for Home.
Departing for Home: After the marriage supper, the bride and bridegroom would leave the groom’s father’s house where the groom had built the wedding chamber. They would go to their own home, which the bridegroom had prepared.
Jesus’ Fulfillment: Just as the bride and bridegroom left the marriage supper to go to the home that the bridegroom had prepared, so Jesus and His bride will depart for their new home.
Revelation 21:1-4, 9-10, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes’… 9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.”
From the pattern of the ancient wedding practices, we see that, like the bridegroom of ancient times, Jesus came to the home of His bride for the betrothal, made a covenant with His bride, and sealed it with a glass of wine, paid the “bride price” with His life and sent His bride gifts of the Holy Spirit. We, the betrothed (the Church) currently await the return of our Bridegroom to take us to the wedding chamber (the Rapture) to spend seven years (while the tribulation occurs on Earth). We will then celebrate the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and depart with our Bridegroom for our new home, the New Jerusalem.
Communion and the Marriage Contract of the Lamb
1 Cor 11:23-26, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”
In the ordinance from our Lord Jesus Christ to partake in the bread and the wine until His return, we have images of the Jewish wedding customs that remind us of our betrothal to the Lord.
The ordinance was first recorded in the Gospels, Mat 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-25; and Luke 22:15-20. In all three accounts, we see that “bread” was offered first. It represented His body which would be sacrificed on our behalf.
In the tradition of Jewish marriages this would be considered the “bride price” of the Marriage Contract.
As 1 Cor 6:20 tells us, “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”
1 Cor 7:23, “You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.”
As we have noted, when a young man desired to marry a young woman in ancient Israel, he would prepare a contract or covenant to present to the young woman and her father at the young woman’s home. The contract showed his willingness to provide for the young woman and described the terms under which he would propose marriage. The most important part of the contract was the “bride price”, the price that the young man was willing to pay to marry the young woman.
Today, in our gentile culture, the contract and bride price are represented in the “engagement ring.” Yet, an engagement ring is not intended to be permanent. It is simply a pledge of mutual love and loyalty, cf. 1 Cor 11:27, and gives place to the wedding ring given at the final wedding ceremony.
So when our Lord said, “This is My body, which is for you”, He was stating the terms of the marriage contract with its “bride price.”
The second part of this ritual is the sharing of the cup, were in 1 Cor 11:25 it states, “In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’.”
This cup represents our Lord’s spiritual death upon the Cross, where for the final three hours of hanging upon the Cross every sin of every member of the human race was imputed to Jesus and He was judge for them by the Father. This penalty was separation from the Father, just as the Eternal Lake of Fire is separation from God for all of eternity for the unbeliever.
Jesus paid the penalty for all of mankind, but only those who believe in His personal payment for them receive its benefits and escape the Lake of Fire.
None-the-less, His blood represented in the cup also signified the “bride price” He would pay.
As we noted in the Jewish marriage customs, if the father and bride approve of the contract presented by the young man, the father, young woman, and young man would drink from the cup accepting its terms and coming to agreement.
In the Upper Room, Jesus passed the cup to the disciples saying, “drink from it, this is My blood of the new covenant which is poured out for many.”, and by drinking from it, they in turn agreed to the marriage contract, the New Covenant.
Likewise, when we eat of the bread and drink from the cup of the new covenant, we too are saying we agree to the marriage contract as 1 Cor 11:26a tells us, “we proclaim (agree to) His death (bride price).”
When our Lord then said, “do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of Me”, He is telling us that we are to be reminded over and over and over again that we are contractually betrothed to Him, just as the engagement ring is a reminder to the bride that she is betrothed to one specific man.
The engagement ring (or marriage contract and gifts of the Jewish custom) is also a reminder to other men that this girl is spoken for, and you are to “keep your hands off” as it were, just as the communion ritual demonstrates to Satan and the fallen angels that we are betrothed to our Lord.
It is also a reminder to the bride that she is contractually betrothed to the Lord, and therefore should not cheat on Him by rejecting Him and living consistently in sin inside of Satan’s cosmic system, (i.e., spiritual adultery), as 1 Cor 11:27 reminds us too.
And finally as 1 Cor 11:26b tells us, we are to keep partaking of the bread and wine, “until He comes” which signifies our hope (confident expectation) and anticipation of His coming for His bride to make us His wife, at the Rapture of the Church, just as the virgins were to have oil prepared and the bride having been washed (MIKVEHed), prepared herself for the coming of her groom at midnight with shouts and the blowing of the shofar.
1 Cor 11:23, “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Let us eat the bread of the marriage contract.
1 Cor 11:25, “In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Let us drink the cup of the marriage contract signifying are acceptance of the terms and condition of our salvation and our agreement to the marriage contract of the Lamb.
1 Cor 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (The Rapture of the Church, when He comes to take His bride and make her His wife.)
Finally, in the gospel account of Mat 26:29, Jesus said, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” That cup would be the fourth cup of the Passover celebration also known as the Elijah Cup or Cup of Acceptance. With the Father and bride having already drank of the cup and accepting the marriage contract, now this is when the bridegroom will drink the cup of acceptance, in regard to fulfilling the marriage contract.
The Hebrew Mishnah teaches that the four cups correspond to the four verbs of Ex 6:6-7, describing God’s redemption: “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians’.”
So the four verbs include:
- YATSA – I will bring you out,
- NATSAL – I will deliver you,
- GAAL – I will redeem you,
- LAQAKH – I will take you to be My people.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
We now take a break from the discussion of rival banquets prepared by “wisdom” and “folly,” and turn to the middle portion of Chapter 9, which gives us several principles of wisdom for application in vs. 7-12.
“These verses appear to be a misplaced list of proverbs that look more like those in Chs. 10-29 than like the poems in the prologue. They are in fact a carefully composed section of the larger poem, linking the descriptions and invitations of Wisdom and Folly and focusing on the foundational theme of the Book (9:10; cf. 1:7)”. (Complete Biblical Library Commentary.)
The wise belong to the guests hosted by “wisdom”, and the proud to the adherents of “folly.”
In fact, these passages are actually essential for equipping the believer to choose between the two rival invitations.
This portion vs. 7-12 is broken down into 3 sections:
- 7-8a, “Do not reprove scoffers.”
- 8b-10, “Teach wisdom to the righteous man.”
- 11-12, “Blessing from wisdom applied.”
Section 1, Vs. 7-8a, “Do Not Reprove Scoffers.”
Prov 9:7, “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.”
The woman “wisdom” breaks from her discussion of a banquet prepared and invitations set out, to go back to the basics of her plea by saying, “whoever instructs.”
“Correct” is the Qal Active verb YASAR that means, “instruct or rebuke.” Here and in Psa 94:10, it is speaking of “instructing” the godless, which would necessitate corrective measures, and is not speaking about cursing or condemning them.
“Scoffer” is the noun LITS or LETS from the verb LUTS, and is someone who mocks the Word of God. Not only do they reject it, but they are antagonistic towards it and the ones who believe in it and teach it. The primitive meaning is to “make mouth at,” which means speak arrogantly or boastfully against. We saw these individuals in Prov 1:22; 3:34, that speak arrogantly against God’s Word.
“Dishonor” is the verb QALON, קָלוֹן that means, “shame, disgrace, or dishonor.” The root indicates the lowering of a person’s social status.
Eight references in Proverbs, (3:35; 6:33; 9:7; 11:2; 12:16; 13:18; 18:3; and 22:10), address human experience and, either by implication or direct contrast, promote the value of wisdom. In other words, to rebuke a scoffer is not a wise thing to do, because it will have negative consequences on your social status in the eyes of others.
No one, especially the arrogant, likes a “know-it-all.” And many times Christians play the role of a “know-it-all” by trying to tell unbelievers, especially arrogant ones, how to live their lives.
Many times a Christian will put themselves in the category of a fool, because they are looking down their nose at others, trying to tell them how to live or trying to right all the wrongs in people’s lives.
Prov 3:35, “The wise will inherit glory, but shame will be the promotion of fools.” In the context of our passage, the fool is the one who tries to rebuke a scoffer.
“Reproves” is the Hiphil (causative stem) verb YAKACH יָכַח that means, “to argue, to convince, to convict, to judge, to be right, or to reprove.” The word usually refers to the clarification of people’s moral standing, which may involve arguing with a person. We should never argue over the Word of God. If someone does not want to receive it, then just end the conversation or walk away.
“Wicked man” is the noun RESHA, רֶשַׁע that means, “wicked or criminal.” It embodies the character that is opposite the character of God, Job 34:10; Psa 5:4; 84:10, being in opposition to the just and righteous characteristics of God.
“Gets insults for himself” is the Noun MEUM, מְאוּם that means, “blemish or defect.” In the Pentateuch, it was used for the sacrificial lambs that were to be without spot or blemish. Figuratively, the term means a moral stain.
So we see that to instruct, rebuke, reprove, or argue with a scoffer, mocker, or wicked individual is more than just a waste of time, it will have negative consequences back to you.
As Prov 15:12 tells us, some people are just too rebellious or scornful to be reproved.
Prov 15:12, “A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, he will not go to the wise.”
And if you try to make a stand against them, it will typically end up bad for you in that they will hurl insults at you in the presence of others, thereby causing you to have a bad reputation with those people as well. Having a bad reputation will certainly hinder your ability to witness to them in the future.
And remember, we do not need to take matters into our own hands, as God’s Word tells us…
Prov 19:26, “Judgments are prepared for scoffers, and blows for the back of fools.”
Rom 12:19, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.”
Then in Prov 9:8a we have “Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you.”
“Reprove” and “Scoffer” are the same words as in vs. 7, (YAKACH and LITS).
“Lest he hate you.” is the Conjunction PEN, פֶּן, that means, “so that not, otherwise, lest” with the Qal Imperfect Verb SANE, שָׂנֵא that means, “hate or detest.”
Literally it reads, “Do not chastise a mocker so that he will not hate you.”
That is the key here. A scoffer or mocker is so full of himself and contemptuous of others that he will not humble himself under any authority, not even under that of the LORD. Likewise, if someone hates you, he will tune you out and not listen to what you have to say about God, Jesus Christ, or the Bible. Similarly, because his hatred has been aroused, he will verbally attack and publicly humiliate the wise, cf. Prov 22:10, and ultimately, it will hinder your ability to witness.
Prov 22:10, “Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, even strife and dishonor will cease.”
Section 2, Vs. 8b-10, “Teach Wisdom to the Righteous Man.”
Prov 9:8b, “Reprove a wise man and he will love you.”
Beginning in the second half of vs. 8, we are told who we should spend our energy on, “Reprove (YAKACH) a wise man (CHAKAM) and he will love (AHEB) you.”
The wise person here does not mean he has all wisdom, it means that he is smart enough to know he does not know it all. He is smart enough to know he needs to learn more information. He is smart enough to know he needs to and can learn from those who are wiser than him.
“He will love you” is in contrast to the social problems the scoffer causes you. This person will have a great rapport with you; he will discover that what you have taught him is true and really works and is powerful in his life, and he will be very appreciative for that. He will come to respect you rather than lying, gossiping, maligning, and slandering about you to others. He instead will be your committed spiritual friend. cf. Prov 15:31; 18:15.
Prov 15:31, “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.”
Prov 18:15, “The mind of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
Then Prov 9:9, tells us, “Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning.”
It begins with the Qal Imperative command NATHAN, נתַן that means, “give,” but as you can see by the italic “instruction” is not in the Hebrew but is implied. This is what we are to not give to the scoffer, mocker, or wicked man, “correction, rebuke, and reproof” (YASAR YAKACH). Yet, when we give it to the “wise” (CHAKAM) man, he will be “still wiser” (OD CHAKAM).
Then we are exhorted to “teach”; which is the verb YADAH that means, “to know or understand.” Here it is in the Hiphil stem (causative) that means, “to cause to know or to make known”, or as translated here, “to teach,” so as they “know.”
Then we are given the opposite of the “wicked man” (RESHA), which is TSEDEQ for “righteous man.” This is the person who will receive your instruction and wisdom. And, as you teach him, he receives a benefit of “increasing in his learning,” which is the Hiphil Jussive Verb YASAPH, יָסַף that means, “to add, to continue, or to do again” and the noun LEQACH לֶקַח that means, “teaching or insight,” in a subjective sense of personal acquirement, cf. Prov 1:5, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,”
So you can give personal gain to a fellow believer by teaching, rebuking, and correcting him in his understanding of God’s Word.
Then in Prov 9:10 we have, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
This is a reiteration of Prov 1:7a, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,” with the change from, “knowledge” to “wisdom.”
In Prov 1:7 “knowledge” was the noun DAATH, דַּעַת meaning, “knowledge, skill, or perception,” in regard to the handling of God’s Word, and here “wisdom” is CHOKMAH. So the two are intertwined and used connectively in here Prov 9:10.
“Fear” is the noun YIRAH, יִרְאָה meaning, “fear,” in the concept of worship and obedience to the Lord. “Fear” tells us that the wise begin their journey towards greater wisdom by submission to the highest Authority, the Lord. If they submit to His authority, they will submit to the doctrine you are teaching them, as they are not looking at the man but the message. And that is the formula for wisdom and spiritual growth with maximum Divine good production.
In the phrase, “knowledge of the Holy One”, DAATH is used in the comparative aspect of this verse; The “knowledge” we are to have is of the “Holy One”, the Adjective QADOSH, קָדוֹשׁ that means, “Holy” is from the verb QADASH that means, “to set apart or sanctify.” It is used as a Pronoun in reference to the Lord. It emphasizes the attribute of God’s holiness (His righteousness and justice), and its occurrence here, in close proximity to “wisdom” suggests that there is a close connection between holiness and the content of this Book and the entire Bible. And for the one who receives and applies it connects holiness (righteousness) to them too.
“Understanding” then is the Noun BINAH, meaning, “understanding or insight”, where understanding is the object of knowledge.
So “fear”, (obedience to God’s Word), leads to “wisdom” (application of God’s Word), and “knowledge” (metabolized Bible Doctrine) leads to “understanding” (knowing what to do and what not to do, and when do something and when not to do something).
Therefore, you should reprove with God’s Word the “righteous man”, and you should not reprove with God’s Word the “wicked scoffer”.
Prov 25:12, “Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.”
The wise know their need and appreciate both instruction and rebuke, cf. Prov 10:8; 25:12; 27:5f; 28:23, knowing also how to benefit by them. And since they are open to being taught, they continue to grow in wisdom and insight, Prov 1:5; cf. 19:27.
Prov 19:27, “Cease listening, my son, to discipline, and you will stray from the words of knowledge.”
Therefore, vs. 10 is the essential foundation in order to receive wisdom’s benefits as noted in vs. 11-12a.
Section 3, Vs. 11-12, “Blessing from Wisdom Applied.”
Now we turn to the blessing portion of this subsection in vs. 11-12.
Prov 9:11, “For by me your days will be multiplied, and years of life will be added to you.”
Here the woman “wisdom” continues to speak as she reiterates the blessing of Prov 3:2, “For length of days and years of life … will be added to you.” cf. Prov 4:10.
In vs. 11, “days (YOM) will be multiplied”- “Multiplied” is the Qal Imperfect Verb REVAH, רָבָה, that means, “to be numerous or great.” Generally indicating number or increase in quantity, REVAH is also used to mean, “that which is singular or extraordinary.”
Then we have “and years (SHANAH) of life (CHAYYIM) will be added (YASAPH) to you.”
So again we see both quantity and quality of life.
Then we have our final statement, Prov 9:12, “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it.”
Here we have the same message repeated twice; first given in a positive light, and then given in a negative light.
First the positive! Here we have a conditional statement in the Qal Perfect with the Participle IM for “if” meaning, “if and you are”, (a first class “if”). It establishes the conditional clause of the sentence, “you are wise (CHAKAM).” In other words, you have learned from God’s Word and are applying it.
Then we have the result clause, “you are wise for yourself.” This means that we cannot make other people wise; we only have control over our own souls. Likewise, we cannot live other people’s lives; we can only live our own lives.
Then we have the negative aspect which does not have its own Participle IM. Instead, it uses the WE Conjunction for “but,” or we could say, “on the other hand.”
“You scoff” is LITS once again.
“You alone will bear it” is LE BAD for, “you only or you alone,” and the Qal Imperfect Verb NASA, נָשָׂא meaning, “lift, carry, take away, or bear.” This phrase has the sense of capital punishment which goes along with the RESHA, “wicked man or criminal” of 7b.
In our usage it describes the bearing or carrying of the consequences of wrong decisions or sin, in this case the rejection of Bible Doctrine. If someone rejects Doctrine, it is theirs to bear and theirs alone.
Therefore, when you do witness to someone and they reject what you have told them, they are held accountable for their own decision of rejecting it, not you. You cannot make people accept or even believe what you have told them. It is in total, their responsibility. Each one must bear the consequences of his own sin, cf. Prov 15:32; Ezek 18:20; Gal 6:4-5. It emphasizes personal responsibility for choosing or rejecting wisdom.
This is the “no guilt” concept of witnessing. Just preach the Word as you should, or hold it back at time as you should, and be confident that you are doing the right thing, especially when your Word is rejected. Do not second guess yourself or doubt or worry about it. Just teach or not teach, and turn it over to God in prayer from there.
The Rival Banquet Offered by the Adulterous Woman “Folly”,
(Satan’s Cosmic System.)
In this passage we have the rival to the woman “wisdom” who is the woman of “folly” and her rival banquet that she offers to the young and unsuspecting, the immature believer.
As we noted in the introduction to this chapter, she offers a counterfeit to that of the woman “wisdom,” yet the results of her banquet are quite different and disastrous for those who partake. In this passage, without explicitly referring to any specific passage, this image of “folly” summarizes all of the negative female references of the prologue.
Regarding the Adulterous Woman, we are told of:
- Her Character, 13.
- Her Preparation, 14.
- Her Invitation, 15.
- Her Prey, 16.
- Her Message, 17.
- Her Outcome, 18.
As we noted previously, a more detailed comparison of the two women’s Banquets includes:
|Preparation for the meal:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1-3||“Folly” – vs. 13-15|
|· Designation:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1a||“Folly” – vs. 13a|
|· Activity / attributes:||“Wisdom” – vs. 1a-3||“Folly” – vs. 13a-15|
|· Calling:||“Wisdom” – vs. 3a||“Folly” – vs. 15|
|· Location:||“Wisdom” – vs. 3b||“Folly” – vs. 14b|
|Invitation:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4-5||“Folly” – vs. 16-17|
|· Invitation to gullible:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4a||“Folly” – vs. 16a|
|· Invitation to brainless:||“Wisdom” – vs. 4b||“Folly” – vs. 16b|
|· Offer of symbolic foods:||“Wisdom” – vs. 5||“Folly” – vs. 17|
|Conclusion: Life or Death:||“Wisdom” – vs. 6||“Folly” – vs. 18|
As we have been noting, when we discuss the adulterous woman “folly”, we are really speaking about Satan’s cosmic system and the counterfeits he offers mankind, especially believers, to lure them away from their relationship with their right man, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The young men (immature believers), to whom this section of Proverbs is addressed, are faced with the choice of accepting the call of “folly” or the invitation of “wisdom”, that is to either reject or embrace the way of life God explains in the Book of Proverbs, as “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom”, Prov 9:10a; cf. Psa 111:10.
We begin understanding the woman “folly” by noting Her Character, vs. 13.
Prov 9:13, “The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naive and knows nothing.”
“Woman of folly” is the noun ISHSHAH for “woman”, and the Noun for “folly” KESYILUTH כְּסִילוּת that means, “folly, insolence, stupidity, silliness.” This noun is derived from the verb KASAL, “to be foolish,” and occurs in the Old Testament only in this verse. It serves as a personification of foolishness or stupidity, in contrast to the personification of “wisdom”, and so can be taken as a genitive of apposition, “the woman who is folly” or “the woman, Folly.” Here the woman “folly” is inviting the foolish to attend a banquet at her house.
So the first thing we see about this woman in her title is that she herself is “foolish” and personifies all foolishness.
Foolish means, “Lacking good sense or judgment, silliness. It is resulting from stupidity or misinformation; being ill-advised or unwise. It is devoid of meaning or coherence, ridiculous or insane.
This is what Satan’s cosmic system truly is. It starts with misinformation that leads the naïve and gullible in ill-advice and unwise decisions that are devoid of meaning and are ultimately ridiculous.
Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation (ASOTIA – wasteful; foolish), but be filled with the Spirit.”
Insolent means, “Presumptuous and insulting in manner or speech.” Here we see the arrogance of the foolish ones; they think they know better than God does. When we operate like that, it is insulting to our Lord.
That is why Proverbs contains several similar passages, which warn against this woman, (i.e., Satan’s Cosmic System), Prov 2:16ff; 5:1-23; 6:23-35; 7:1-27.
With her foolishness, she is also “boisterous” which is the Qal Active Particle Verb HAMAH, הָמָה that means, “to roar or make an uproar.” The Old Testament uses this verb to describe various kinds of sounds, but comes to mean, without moral scruples. The adulterous woman was also described in this way in Prov 7:11.
It reminds us of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Notice the contrast here with Eph 5:18, “sober”, (NEPHO – to abstain from wine, calm and collected, discreet), versus “drunk.”
This “roar,” adulterous woman is one who is arrogant in her nature, as she arrogantly calls out to the immature, trying to lure them astray, sometimes frightening or “guilting” them into wrong actions.
Then we see the true nature of this woman, “She is naïve and knows nothing.”
“Naïve” here is PETHAYYUTH, another hapaxlegomena only used here in scripture. It is a feminine singular noun derived from the verb PATHAH that means, “to be simple or to be gullible.” It comes to mean, “Simplicity or foolishness”, as it is parallel with KESYILUTH.
Then we have the crescendo, “she knows nothing”, which is the negative Particle BAL, בַּל meaning, “not or nothing”, with the Qal Perfect Verb YADAH for, “to know or understand.” It is a completed past action; therefore, she did not learn the truth in the past, with the result that she does not know the truth at the present time, now.
The Hebrew ends with the Interrogative MAH for “what, how, why, etc.” Therefore, “she does not know anything” of what the truth is, how it is found or works, and why she should have it. As Sergeant Schultz from the old TV show “Hogan’s Heroes” use to say, “I know NOTHING.” This woman knows absolutely nothing; just as Satan’s cosmic system does not know and will never give you true answers about life, especially the spiritual life in Christ, even though she thinks she does and calls out to the unsuspecting with her arrogant and boisterous voice proclaiming that she does.
Therefore, we see important differences between the two women; “wisdom” is diligent, vs. 1f; whereas, “folly” is noisy and ignorant, vs. 13. The great irony here is that she offers to teach others with the same need she has, as the root word for naïve (PETHIY) is the same as the word “naive” in vs. 16.
Interestingly, as she is trying to lure the “simple or gullible” young man, we see that she herself is the simple and gullible one, as she is the first to “swallow the lie” of the temptation from Satan’s cosmic system, just as the ISHSHAH did in the Garden of Eden, Gen 3:1-7.
As the old saying goes, “if you tell a lie long enough, people start to think it is the truth.”
Waltke notes, “Without moral knowledge she also necessarily lacks benevolent shrewdness and discretion (see 8:12, 14). She has no clear concept of her goals because she has no sure values. As a result, she is left to her own will to pleasure and power, determined not to know that the end thereof is death.” (New International Commentary)
Next we note Her Preparation, vs. 14.
Prov 9:14, “She sits at the doorway of her house, on a seat by the high places of the city.”
“She sits” is in the Qal Perfect of PETHACH for completed past action, with the results continuing into the present. In other words, she has not lifted a finger to prepare this banquet, compared to the woman “wisdom” who had done much work to provide for you, i.e., “built, hewn, prepared, mixed, and set.” In grace, God has done all the work necessary for the believer to live the unique spiritual life, while Satan just takes from the things God has done and arrogantly repackages them in falsehoods.
“Having prepared no meat, mixed and decanted no wine, set no table, and sent no messengers. Her lifestyle so titillates and demands no moral rectitude that she needs no discipline, no industry, and no investment to attract the senseless. Her crude invitation is sufficient to allure the masses to her exciting, but fatal, meal.” (Waltke, New International Commentary)
“Doorway of her house” is the entrance into the cosmic system, as the counterfeit to the entrance into the spiritual life, which is Bible Doctrine resident within your soul. This entrance is one into lies and deceptions, folly, and falsehoods. This can be entrance into false religion or immoral degeneracy, which many times go hand in hand, as we have seen in ancient pagan religions and our current-day world religions.
“On a seat” in the Noun KISSE, כִּסֵּא that denotes a variety of “seats,” primarily chairs, usually a throne and sometime denotes the ruler himself. Here it represents Satan’s cosmic system lounging and waiting to pounce on its prey. This is the same word used in Isa 14:13.
Chairs were rare in ancient times, and only those of nobility or of high status or the wealthy had them. Many times a chair represented one with authority to teach. So we see “folly” setting herself up as a teacher to the immature.
“By the high places” is the Noun MAROM, מָרוֹם often used in the literal sense, “height, elevation, elevated place”, but is also frequently used metaphorically, “from the sky, of high rank, or proudly”. Sometimes, the usage is “on high or above.
So “by the high places of the city” can hardly be literal, yet it reminds us of Satan’s arrogant rebellion against God in eternity past, where in Isa 14:13-14 it says, “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’”
So in our comparison, vying with “wisdom”, who calls from the city’s highest walls, Prov 9:3b, “folly” sits by the high places of the city to get the attention of the masses and impose her rule over them.
Interestingly, in Islamic religious chant, with their backs to the Temple of Jerusalem (facing eastward), they chant, “our god is greater,” as an insult to the Jews and the One True God of Israel. They put themselves in a “higher” position, as Satan desires to do in Isa 14.
Therefore, there are important differences between the two women; though wisdom seeks learners of Bible Doctrine, vs. 3, folly waits for them to come to her, vs. 14f ready with her lies and deceptions.
Next we note Her Invitation, vs. 15.
Prov 9:15, “Calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight.”
It begins with the Qal Infinitive Construct of QARA for, “Calling” or “keeps on calling.” Satan’s cosmic system keeps tempting us astray every day!
So here “folly” tries to distract those who did not have in mind to turn aside into her house. She has no advantage over them until she gets their attention, even as the malevolent Serpent had no power over ISHSHAH until he fixed her focus on the forbidden tree, Gen 3:1-3. Just like the child learning to ride a bike tends to hit the tree he focuses on, so also people tend to sin once they fix their eyes on the temptations of Satan’s cosmic system.
“To those who pass by” this is the entrapment mentality. Those who are wandering in life and have not buckled down with the intake and application of God’s Word will “pass by” her temptations and get suckered in, as the young man of Prov 7:8, 13 did.
“Who are making their paths straight” is a description of the young believer who is saved and wants to learn God’s Word, live righteously, and does not intend on turning aside, but he is in a vulnerable state, since he does not yet have “wisdom, understanding, and discern,” that accompanies spiritual maturity.
So the adulterous woman “folly” functions to test the mettle of the young believer’s resolve. Yet, if lacking firm determination, the gullible are vulnerable prey to those who know full well what they want. This is the desired prey of “folly”, Satan’s cosmic system.
The new believer, spiritually immature believer, must be extra cautious about their associations and how they spend their time, because Satan is waiting to capture them with lies and deception and their emotions.
So “folly’s” invitation may seem indiscriminate, as it addresses all who pass by, yet it is actually to malign, aimed specifically at those who are trying to live righteously. Anyone who is not trying to do so is already living foolishly; they have already visited her house and tasted her “delights.” She has no further interest in them, and they, now bent on their own devices, are no longer dependent on her continued teaching. Therefore, she is always looking for new prey to conquer and devour.
Next we note Her Prey, vs. 16.
Prov 9:16, “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,” and to him who lacks understanding she says…”
Here we have more details of those she preys on!
“Naïve” is our Noun PETHIY, פֶּתִי once again for the spiritually immature believer.
“Let him turn in here” is the Qal Jussive Verb SUR, סוּר meaning, “to leave, to deviate, to turn aside, to go away.” It is with the Adverb HENNAH, הֵנָּה for “here”, i.e., her “temple of doom.”
Next we see the introduction to the enticement of her invitation and more details about those she preys on.
“To him who lacks understanding she says.”
“Lacks understanding” is the phrase we noted previously, CHASER LEB for “lacks heart”, cf. Prov 6:32; 7:7; 9:4. This further identifies those she seeks to devour, those who do not have Bible Doctrine resident within the right lobe (heart) of their soul. And it is the same group that “wisdom” calls out to in Prov 9:4.
Therefore, here we have a similarity; their invitations are initially identical, vs. 3-4, cf. vs. 15-16, but their moral overtones are diametrically opposed, vs. 5f, cf. vs. 17, as we will see in the next verse. So we see the counterfeit, explicitly referring to any specific passage, as this image of “folly” summarizes all of the negative female references of the prologue. Her invitation should be viewed no different than her flattery of Prov 7:14-21, and her enticements of Prov 5:20.
Next we note Her Message, vs. 17.
Prov 9:17, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
“Stolen” is the Qal Passive of the Verb GANAB (ganav) גָּנַב meaning to, “steal or rob.” In the passive, it means to receive that which has been stolen or robbed from another. Stealing is prohibited by the 8th Commandment, Ex 20:15.
Interestingly, “The penalty for stealing is milder in Old Testament legal codes than in other societies of the time. Yet, death was the penalty for stealing humans.” (Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary)
Here “water” is what is stolen, which is the noun MAY, מַי, as an incomplete metaphor for “sexual pleasure”, cf. Prov 5:15.
So “stolen water” qualifies the sexual enjoyment as being taken from the married spouse to whom it rightfully belongs, Prov 2:17; 5:9; 6:30-35; 7:19. It is speaking about stealing one away from their husband or wife (right man or right woman), and figuratively of stealing the believer away from his walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Is sweet” is the Qal Imperfect of MATHOQ, מָתַק meaning, “to be sweet or pleasant.” It is used figuratively of evil as tasting deceptively sweet, cf. Job 20:12, “Though evil is sweet in his mouth he hides it under his tongue.” The idea here is that fulfilling a prohibited lust has a moment of pleasure, cf. Heb 11:25, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”
An Arabic proverb says, “Everything forbidden is sweet.” (D. Winton Thomas, Notes on Some Passages in the Book of Proverbs)
“Bread” is the Noun LECHEM, for “bread or food”, once again and “bread eaten in secret is pleasant” means, unlawful and sinful pleasures, as another incomplete metaphor for sexual gratification, cf. Prov 30:20, “This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth, and says, “I have done no wrong.”
“Pleasant” is the Qal Imperfect Verb NAEM, נָעֵם meaning, “to be pleasant, sweet, or beautiful.” It refers to what is pleasing, comfortable, delightful to enjoy. It is used of a beloved one or friend, Song Sol. 7:6; 2 Sam 1:26. Adultery is pleasant to the sinner and delightful to his depraved taste, cf. Prov 4:16-17.
Figuratively, “water” represents both the Word of God, Eph 5:26, and the Holy Spirit at various times, Acts 1:5; 10:47; 11:16, and “bread” represent the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor 11:24. So what is being stolen is the Word of God from our hearts, our fellowship with the Spirit, and our walk with our betrothed, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Folly’s invitation begins in deliberate imitation of Wisdom’s. Like her choice of location, she aims to confuse those who lack the discretion that will enable them to distinguish true from false. She forms her invitation as a proverb tells us what worldly people find attractive, “that which is prohibited and censored.”
However, her banquet is a poor fare in comparison to “wisdom’s”, (i.e., she offers water instead of wine, and there is no mention of meat), and even what she offers is illicit, “stolen,” and “secret”, just as her “counsel” is a much poorer fare.
So a contrast is intended between the rich fare offered by “wisdom” and the ordinary food offered by the woman “folly.” But “folly” tries to compensate for her shortcomings by the attraction of the secret and hidden, of the unusual and strange. Hers is the PT Barnum show versus “wisdom’s” Opera.
Therefore, there are important differences between the two women; as noted in vs. 16, their moral overtones are diametrically opposed.
Next we note Her Outcome, vs. 18.
Prov 9:18, “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”
“Dead” is the Noun RAPHAIM, רְפָאִים that means, “dead spirits,” cf. Prov 2:18; 21:16, and refers to the corpses in her banquet hall. Occurring eight times in the Old Testament, it refers to “dead spirits” in Sheol, Job 26:5. In most other places, it is nearly equivalent to a proper noun, referring to “the dead”, Psa 88:10; Prov 2:18; Isa 14:9; 26:14.
Remember that during the Old Testament times, all dead people, believers and unbelievers, went to Sheol שְׁאוֹל, (Hades in the NT), cf. Luke 16:19-31. It had two compartments, Abraham’s Bosom / Paradise where believers resided, and the Place of Torments where unbelievers reside. Since the resurrection of our Lord, believers now go directly to heaven, and only unbelievers go to Hades. So in the time of proverbs, Sheol was the place where all the dead went.
“Her guests” is the Qal Passive Participle Verb QARA, meaning, “being called”, that refers to the apostates who accepted her illicit invitation.
“Depths” OMEQ, עֹמֶק, tells us that Sheol is inside planet earth, cf. Prov 25:3.
Therefore, “folly” allures her victims with the half-truth that sin gives pleasure, cf. Heb 11:25, but, like Satan, cf. Gen 3:4, she denies the connection between sin and death.
Prov 21:16, “A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.”
So “wisdom” here corrects the deceptive half-truths of “folly.” Behind the scene of sensual delight is a scene of the dead in the depths of the grave.
“And he does not know”, WE LO YADA, expresses the fundamental flaw of “folly’s” invitation and calling, and those who listen to her, as they neither know nor care about the consequences of their action, which result in the Sin Unto Death, 1 Cor 11:30. They are willfully oblivious to “wisdom’s” fundamental insight that the God of Justice and Righteousness upholds a moral order, where He rewards righteousness with life, and wickedness with the Sin Unto Death.
Another ancient proverb says, “Many eat on earth what they digest in hell.” Therefore, there are important differences between the two women; “wisdom” offers life; whereas, “folly” leads only to death.
If one evaluates his lifestyle as foolish and turns aside to “wisdom’s” house, he is wise and becomes worthy of life. On the other hand, if he chooses “folly’s” house, he will end up in Sheol. People prove themselves wise by persevering in the right path when tested.
With this stern warning, “wisdom” draws the curtain on the prologue, hoping to provoke the uncommitted to choose the life she offers in the chapters that follow.
“Like many poems and sections of the prologue, this chapter ends by warning that folly leads to death (1:18f, 32; 2:22; 5:23; 6:15; 7:23, 26f; 8:36; especially 2:18; 5:5; 7:27). Although this may seem an unnecessarily somber ending, the importance of the issue, life or death, merits sober reflection. Proverbs as a whole is a serious Book, warning of destruction, treachery, infidelity and a host of other troubles, ultimately death, as the natural penalties of disobedience and rebellion. Ending with the warning of death underlines the motif of the prologue, the choice between life and death, and prepares the reader for the stark choices presented in the following chapters.” (Frederic Clarke Putnam, Complete Biblical Library Commentary).