The writer of these proverbs tells us that wisdom has built her house on 7 pillars. Seven is perfection so this indicates that her appeal is finished, nothing more is needed except to sum up the preceding chapters and introduce the detailed teaching that follows. Wisdom restates her call by juxtaposing it with the call of folly. Wisdom knows that the best way to recognize the dangers of false and foolish teaching is by letting folly speak for herself. This allows the willing student to recognize her words so that he may discern truth from lies and make decisions that are ethical and moral, not grounded in greed or selfishness. Wisdom and folly both call out to the simple and both set out a meal. Yet the meal provided by wisdom is delightful. Though accompanied by strong teaching and rebuke, it is a blessing. The meal folly puts out is meager, stolen bread and water that promises delight but only provides death.
The Lord here is telling us that the choice between wisdom and folly, God and self, life and death, and truth and the illusion created by lies is up to the individual to make. This is not as easy as it seems for wisdom is accompanied by rebuke and correction that is often hard to accept while folly seduces with promises of pleasure and an easy life. The wise person is humble, willing to accept rebuke, to learn from mistakes, for this leads to spiritual growth, godliness and contentment. The person who scorns correction is a fool who turns on the wise.
Wisdom is again personified as a woman, and once again we must be wary of treating this attribute as if it were a real being. It is clear from what wisdom says that she is focusing on the Lord God and desires to lead others to follow and obey Him. Such obedience is the essence of true worship. She teaches us to honor Him alone in all we do. Her words are not given just to a chosen or elite few, but offered to all mankind so that all may see that the Lord is the Creator of all that is and the giver and sustainer of life. Her words broadcast to all the benefits of prudence, discretion, discernment, humility, honesty, and temperance.
Wisdom teaches righteousness. She is the basis for the counsel and sound judgment that those who govern should possess but often do not. Since wisdom was present at creation, she sets the boundaries and limits of human behavior. The Lord used wisdom when He set the limits and boundaries for the things He created. This understanding of God’s laws for man and all creation will enable rulers to make just laws that protect people from violence and harm, encourage and reward righteousness, and punish wickedness. We would do well to heed wisdom for since the Lord created all that is He is the one who knows how things work as well as the consequences of selfishness and the blessings of righteousness. He alone knows better than we what will give us satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Therefore he ought to be the first one we consult when we face make decisions or need to resolve problems.
The foolishness of succumbing to the allure of sexual seduction is emphasized once again, this time with a graphic account that sounds as if it were narrated by an eyewitness. The warnings of wisdom are based on God’s revelation but demonstrated by observation of human beings. The woman in the account is shameless and loud, contrary to what was expected of a woman of that day. She comes with her alluring promises of love, acceptance and pleasure with no risks and of course no commitments. The young man has deliberately ignored his parents’ instructions and wandered off looking for pleasure. He presumes to know better than they and thinks there are no consequences to his actions. Yet he falls into a fatal trap.
We too will fall into that trap if we assume that this lesson applies only to sexual sin and thus we are exempt from the warning and the consequences. The graphic account serves to highlight the dangers of giving into seduction of any kind. There are rarely innocent parties when it comes to falling prey to the allure of the flesh. Usually the one who claims to be the victim was looking for something for nothing or for easy results. Human beings are all taken in by promises of wealth, comfort, ease, acceptance, and pleasure especially those which promise no risks, no costs, and no consequences.
The writers of Proverbs are not overstating exaggerating their case against the perils of sexual sin and material seduction. There are severe and heart breaking consequences to ignoring the warnings of wisdom. True prosperity and fulfillment come from hard work, diligence and faith in Jesus.
Wisdom directs us to exercise diligence in the affairs of our life if we are to honor the Lord. We are warned to avoid the many and varied traps of life. We are to avoid risking our livelihood and earnings in risky schemes. This means we avoid gambling and we refrain from investing in uncertain ventures or get-rich quick proposals. We are to work hard so we may provide for ourselves and our families now as well as in the future. We are to bear our own burdens and not become a burden on others. We are to avoid the greedy schemes of wicked men. Wisdom tells us not to be greedy, but to be satisfied with what we have and work hard to achieve the real necessities of life.
Wisdom again warns of the dangers of adultery, marital infidelity and sexual sin. This repeated theme emphasizes that sexual temptation is a timeless and universal problem which is difficult to combat and resist. The allure of forbidden relationships and promises of ecstatic pleasures turns people into fools. Those who fall prey to seduction find their senses dulled and their lives unsatisfying, disappointing and filled with innumerable troubles and sorrows. Wisdom is the greatest weapon we have to combat sexual temptation. It sharpens our ability to resist. It enables us to live in righteousness with an unselfish desire to help others. It helps us to recognize the dangers that result from the foolish pursuit of pleasure.
Wisdom would greatly help those who dabble or are addicted to internet pornography. Wisdom tells us that this is not a harmless pastime that hurts no one. All those who use it are really being abused by it. The Lord says that those who indulge their flesh in sexual allurements are playing with fire.
The teaching of wisdom is vital for the maintenance of a healthy marriage for we are all tempted by sexual allures. The warning here is against all sexual sins but in particular, adultery. Sexual temptation entices the unwary with promises of physical pleasure, emotional ecstasy, and spiritual comfort but provides none of those things. Instead sexual sin ruins a person’s finances, health, reputation and leads to sorrow and separation from God. If you try to take what does not belong to you, you will lose all that does. Sexual pleasure is not the goal of life or even a main pursuit. Sexual enjoyment comes only within a marriage where a husband and wife are in covenant with God and each other. This covenant is one which they must keep and uphold no matter what, for it is vital for a life that honors the Lord.
This lesson about marital fidelity is one which we must hold onto and remember every day for we are under constant temptation to do otherwise. The world proclaims the importance of sex for a pleasurable and fulfilled life, and we must fight against that assault. That assault broadcasts a world view that is centered on pleasure and self and is hostile to God.
The passage also teaches us of the importance of our faithfulness to the Lord. We must be guarded in our approach to all the philosophies and false religions of the world. We must be wary of all the media and religious gurus who promote compromise and unrighteousness as a means of self-actualization. We must aim to remain faithful to the covenant the Lord has made with us. Wisdom guarantees that spiritual fidelity will always lead us onto a path that is a blessing filled with peace.
Even though the Lord makes wisdom available to all who believe, those who desire it must work hard to achieve it. This work should be the primary focus of life, touching every facet of life including the emotions and the will as well as the intellect. The search for wisdom is of vital importance for us because it sets everything else in life in proper order and perspective. As we seek wisdom we develop an understanding of the Lord and a healthy fear of and respect for Him and His commands. In addition it gives us the ability to discern good from bad so that we will not fall victim to the tempting allures of sin, of bad companions, or the seduction of the material world that assaults us through the media.
The motivation for the quest for wisdom then is a desire to honor God. This means that we aspire to live for Him. We who trust Him desire to walk in righteousness and obedience. We who trust Him seek His way first, not success, prosperity or a life of ease and peace. There are many who seek those first and above all else, who use others to satisfy these desires as well as their greed and lust for pleasure and power. They will never achieve lasting satisfaction in this life and will face an eternity of unhappiness. Those who seek the Lord in earnest will find their peace and satisfaction in the knowledge He grants as well as the blessings He bestows. Wisdom, therefore, is its own reward.
This Psalm brings the book to a fitting close of both solemnity and joy as the Psalmist calls on everyone to praise God at all times and in all places. Here too we find that music can play a role on our worship, something which only a few Christian sects or groups seem to ignore. Music is very helpful in assisting us in worship for it conveys a tone of emotion appropriate to our mood and can heighten our sense of thankfulness for what the Lord has done. That means music can help us feel gladness and joy when even when we do not feel like it. Music can also convey the gravity and seriousness that we should maintain when in the presence of Almighty God. It is not fitting to be over familiar with Him since He is so holy and awesome that we cannot but feel humbled when we meet with Him.
As with all worship, praise is not just repeating “I praise you” or “Hallelujah” or other such words over and over again. They are appropriate as refrains or as a chorus, but as we see here and in all of the other 149 Psalms , we praise God as we specifically recall, list and meditate all of His mighty deeds as well as His greatness as exemplified by His attributes and character. Worship, after all, is not about us or our feelings but should be centered on God’s worth. As we do that our emotional mood will change because we will be in His very presence. Our response will be in the form of a wide range of emotions and will result in acts and deeds that show our love and commitment to Him.