TODAY’S READING: PROVERBS 8-11
The first nine chapters of proverbs personify wisdom as a woman, which was quite common in the ancient world I believe. But, in 1 Corinthians 1:24, Paul said Jesus Christ, indeed Christ crucified, is “the wisdom of God.”
In Part 1, I rewrote Proverbs 3 with Jesus in place of wisdom, instruction, teaching, etc. In Part 2, I did the same for Proverbs 4. And this brings us to Part 3, which will compare two different women – folly and wisdom.
Folly is likened to a forbidden woman, a woman that a man would commit adultery with. Because the Bible pictures Israel as God’s bride and the church as Jesus’ bride, in the spirit adultery is a picture of idolatry. Of course, idolatry is putting anything in place of our worship for God. Idolatry is when we seek or desire anything instead of having whole-hearted devotion for God.
Notice how folly, the forbidden woman, and therefore idolatry is described. First, idols call us with words that drip with honey and our smoother than oil but in the end are bitter. Initially, going after something other than God seems so sweet and good. Indeed, the words of God are described as sweeter than honey and his Spirit is likened to oil. But, an idol has nothing to back up that initial taste because an idol is dead. Therefore, in the end it is bitter. Because an idol is dead, it can only lead you to death, just like the forbidden woman.
Second, idols can be found anywhere. The forbidden woman is at her house, in the street, and in the market. Her ways and paths wander. It takes no effort to find idols and they call out to us from any number of places.
Third, idols are very, very outwardly attractive, appealing to the senses. The forbidden woman is beautiful. She is flirtatious, constantly beckoning to you, capturing you with her eyelashes. The forbidden woman dresses in a way to appeal to your senses. She makes her place comfortable for you. She perfumes herself in a way to attract you with a pleasing aroma.
Fourth, idols call to us with seductive words. They are loud, bold, and in your face. Idols can easily get your attention. Therefore, they are difficult to ignore. Like the forbidden woman, idols call out from everywhere with everything we want to hear, especially how we can delight ourselves in them.
Jesus, Christ crucified, is the wisdom of God. So, when we read of the woman wisdom, we are reading about Jesus.
Jesus calls to us, but not from everywhere. He calls from the heights. High places were places of worship to God. He calls from the crossroads, places where important decisions need to be made. Jesus is taking a stand at that place of decision between good and evil, calling to us. Jesus stands and calls at the gates in front of the town, or the place of justice.
Unlike idols, Jesus doesn’t call with flashy things that appeal to our senses. Jesus calls out promising prudence, sense, and noble things. He promises what is right and true. Instead of silver and gold and jewels, riches, he promises understanding and knowledge. What Jesus has is better than all of these earthly riches, but it takes time to acquire. They aren’t immediately appealing, but they will fill you and last.
Jesus, wisdom, prepares a feast and sends out his servants to call us from the highest places, places of worship in spirit and truth, to invite us to his feast. Jesus invites us to eat of his bread, his word, his truth, his life and to drink of the wine he has mixed, which is his life, his sweet life, his abundant life. He invites us to feast and live.
The first nine chapters of Proverbs end with an immediate contrast to the feast of Jesus. Just like Jesus, the idols, the forbidden woman, folly, call out loudly. They even try to call from a place like that of Jesus. They even try to mimic the call of Jesus, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” But, instead of their own mixed wine that is abundant life, idols give stolen water. They have nothing of their own to give. The water, the life, they give they cannot replenish for it is stolen. And, instead of eating bread in the presence of all, idols bid you to eat bread in secret. The nourishment – the thoughts, ideas, words, “truths” – idols provide needs to be hidden because they are shameful and really falsehoods that corrupt, destroy, and lead to death.