An Invitation to Lunch - Proverbs 9 (Sermon)



WELCOME

Hi, I am pastor Rob, and it is great to worship with you today. Where are you going to lunch? What do you like to eat? Take a look at this. 

Steak. Sizzling, salty, peppery, chared, mouth-melting, juicy goodness. Yum! Are there any carnivores out there?

How about this? A salad. The color, the fresh flavor, the crisp crunch, and the refreshing zest of health in every bite. Looking at this picture makes me feel like a million bucks. I love salads. What is your favorite food? One question I ask my kids from time to time is, “If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you want to eat?” Do you know what I would want? Take a look at this. 

PBJ. It has all the essentials: 

  • the grain group: with the bread, 

  • the fruit group: with the jelly, 

  • the protein group: with the peanuts. 

  • And the dairy group (because you have to have this with a cold glass of milk).  

It is the perfect meal. Good meals provide energy, sustenance, and pleasure. 

LUNCH PLANS 

What do you like to eat? What are your lunch plans? Today, you have two invitations (besides the banquet). First, turn in your Bibles to Proverbs chapter 9 as we head back in our series on wisdom. We will be reading the entire chapter. I have asked B. & K. T. to read for us. Would you please stand with me in honor of God’s Word? 

TEXT 

Wisdom has built her house;

    she has hewn her seven pillars.

She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;

    she has also set her table.

She has sent out her young women to call

    from the highest places in the town,

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

    To him who lacks sense she says,

“Come, eat of my bread

    and drink of the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways, and live,

    and walk in the way of insight.”


Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse,

    and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury.

Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;

    reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;

    teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

For by me your days will be multiplied,

    and years will be added to your life.

If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;

    if you scoff, you alone will bear it.


The woman Folly is loud;

    she is seductive and knows nothing.

She sits at the door of her house;

    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,

calling to those who pass by,

    who are going straight on their way,

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

    And to him who lacks sense she says,

“Stolen water is sweet,

    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

But he does not know that the dead are there,

    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9)

PRAYER 

Let’s pray. Dear, God. Thank you for giving us simple people an opportunity to hear you, talk to you, and live for you. We want to know what is best, right, and good. We need your help to follow your ways: to want what you want, change for the better, and live for your honor. Give us discernment. Give us humility. Help us, Lord. Motivate us, Lord. We need you. I need you. In your great name, AMEN. You may be seated. 

CONTEXT 

It has been a while since we have visited the book of Proverbs. It was written primarily by King Solomon around 1000 BC. He was the third king of Israel and the son of King David. Solomon was the wisest person to have ever lived, with 3000 sayings attributed to him. He wrote down many of them in the book of Proverbs for his sons and the followers of God. Hear his goal from his pen. Look at chapter 1 if you have your Bibles. Generally, at the beginning of books, we get a big idea of the author. Chapter 1, verse 1:    


The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: 

            To know wisdom and instruction, 

      to understand words of insight, 

            to receive instruction in wise dealing, 

      in righteousness, justice, and equity; 

           to give prudence to the simple, 

      knowledge and discretion to the youth— 

           Let the wise hear and increase in learning, 

      and the one who understands obtain guidance, 

            to understand a proverb and a saying, 

      the words of the wise and their riddles. 

            The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; 

      fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1–7)


Solomon wrote to impart his wisdom to his children and those who would listen. He grounded wisdom in its source: the Living God, the fear of the Lord.   

BIG IDEA

So, how does that relate to chapter 9? Solomon used two invitations illustrating that The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Two women invite simple people out to eat. One, he called Lady Folly and the other, Lady Wisdom. The wise one was a person you want to eat with. The text explains who Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly are and what they offer. That is our direction this morning. So if you are taking notes, we will discuss: 

  1. Lady Wisdom vs. 1–6

  2. Lady Folly vs. 13–17

  3. The Result of Listening to Each vs. 7–12, 18

GETTING TO KNOW LADY WISDOM

Let’s talk about Lady Wisdom. Who is she? Jump to verse 1. She built her house with seven pillars. Seven is a special number in the Bible, signifying completion and perfection. For example, God made the Earth in seven days. He called it good and established the seven-day week. We could have had a five-day, ten-day, or any other number, yet, God picked seven paralleling the time he took to create the Earth. Later, God gave Moses the fourth Commandment to remember the seventh day and creation. Seven was significant for Jewish festivals, and in the New Testament, the number comes up again. Lady Wisdom built her house with seven pillars. It wasn’t one pillar or two pillars, but seven. I think Solomon was saying that wisdom is connected to resources, wealth, and strength. 

TABLE

What else do we learn about wisdom here? She has slaughtered a beast, mixed wine for a meal, and set the table. She was preparing a feast, not for herself but guests. Then, she called young women to her. They did her bidding, which was another sign of her riches, power, and influence. She was prosperous. 

CHAPTER 8

All of these attributes are mirrored in what we read weeks ago when we preached in chapter 8. Look at chapter 8 verse 1. “Does not wisdom call? Does not understanding raise her voice?” (Proverbs 8:1). Notice Solomon used the pronoun Her. Wisdom and understanding were female. Verse 2, chapter 8, “On the heights beside the way, at the crossroads, she takes her stand” (Proverbs 8:2). She takes her stand. Verse 3, “beside the gates in front of the town, at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud” (Proverbs 8:3). She cries aloud. Now, we can jump to verse 13 to discover more about this woman:


perverted speech I hate.

I have counsel and sound wisdom;

    I have insight; I have strength.

By me kings reign,

    and rulers decree what is just;

by me princes rule,

    and nobles, all who govern justly.

I love those who love me,

    and those who seek me diligently find me.

Riches and honor are with me,

    enduring wealth and righteousness.

My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,

    and my yield than choice silver.

I walk in the way of righteousness,

    in the paths of justice,

granting an inheritance to those who love me,

    and filling their treasuries.

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,

    the first of his acts of old.

Ages ago I was set up,

    at the first, before the beginning of the earth. (Proverbs 8:13–23)


So, Lady wisdom 

  • Hated perverted speech, 

  • She was a counselor, 

  • Insightful, 

  • Strong, 

  • Just, 

  • Influential, 

  • Loving, 

  • Generous, 

  • Wealthy, 

  • Honored, 

  • Righteous, 

  • She came from God 

  • And existed before time. 

INVITATION 

What we hear next is whom she invited over to eat, and it was the same audience as it was in chapters 5 and 8, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here! To him who lacks sense” (Provbers 9:4). She invited the simple and those lacking sense to eat what she prepared. Personally, that is encouraging. 

JD

I had a friend and mentor who would joke that his life verse was Proverbs 30 verse 2. Do you know what that is? I didn’t. I had to look it up. It was pretty funny and comforting when I heard it. Every year when I read that verse, I think of him. You can write that down—Proverbs 30 verse 2. The author called himself a simpleton. I can relate to him. Can you? The fact that Lady Wisdom speaks to simple people is one way that I see grace in this passage. There is hope for me. If you think you have blown it or made a mess of things, this chapter and this book are for you. It is not too late. God wants to help us know him and his ways. Listen up. 

DINNER TIME 

What was Lady Wisdom offering these simple people? Notice verses 5 and 6. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:4–6). Bread and mixed wine were for lunch. She didn’t mention the freshly slaughtered beast, but you can be confident that would show up. Note that what she offered amounted to walking in the way of insight and leaving simple ways. We don’t want to be foolish, right? We want to be insightful, don’t we? Sign up for her lunch and learn! Solomon was queuing his readers in on a metaphor. We want to have wisdom inside us and to work through us and sustain our being. That was what Lady Wisdom was offering. 

LADY FOLLY 

This brings me to my second point, Lady Folly. I introduced Lady Wisdom to you, now. Let’s get to know Lady Folly. 

  1. Lady Wisdom vs. 1–6

  2. Lady Folly vs. 13–17

  3. The Result of Listening to Each vs. 7–12, 18

Jump to verse 13. Solomon described her as seductive and lacking sense. The Hebrew word for seductive we can translate as simple-minded, naive, undisciplined, and ignorant. She knew nothing. However, that was not how she acted. She was confident, bold, audacious, outspoken, and loud. She sat at her house and the highest place and called out another invitation. If you remember our previous sermons, Solomon introduced her before. He named her: the “Adulterous,” “the Strange,” and “Forbidden Woman.” They were all the same. 

INVITATION 

What did she want? Look at verse 16: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense (Proverbs 9:16). She was talking to the same people: you and me. Turn in here. What did Lady Folly offer? Verse 16 continues: “she says, ‘Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (Proverbs 9:16–17). Like Lady Wisdom, she offered food and drink. However, Lady Folly offered something she didn’t prepare or make or buy but stole: water. Now, why was stealing water bad? With Lake Michigan so close, water is not worth that much. Who cares if a person took a little home? We must remember Proverbs was not written in the 21st Century or on the coast of one of the greatest freshwater lakes in all the world. Rather, it was written to a people in a desert mountain society. Water rights were key to life and death. Stealing means you don’t have to work for it. You don’t have to pay for it. You get it easy and without cost. This was sweet, like the offers in chapter 5 that “drip honey” and were “smoother than oil.”

SECRET FOOD

Lady Folly also offered pleasant secret food. Why was that bad? I like pleasant things. Do you? We all do. But the darkness was that it was secret. Imagine what this world would be like if you could do anything you want and never get caught. No one would ever know. It reminds me of Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. He had a ring that if you put it on, you would become invisible. What would you do if you could be invisible? Where would you go? How would you spend your time? The danger of the ring in Tolkien's Middle Earth is the same danger for Solomon and us. A secret pleasure like this has consequences. Living in a community and being known protects us from ourselves. Bread eaten in secret is not a good thing. This short line reverberates Solomon’s warning in chapter 7 about another secret pleasure. The adulteress said to the young man in chapter 7,  


Come, let us take our fill of love till morning;

    let us delight ourselves with love.

For my husband is not at home;

    he has gone on a long journey;

he took a bag of money with him;

    at full moon he will come home.”

With much seductive speech she persuades him;

    with her smooth talk she compels him. (Proverbs 7:18–20)


Chapter 9 echoed and summarized the chapters before. 

RESULTS OF LISTENING TO EACH

This brings us to my third point. We have talked about Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. Now, let’s talk about what they offered. 

  1. Lady Wisdom vs. 1–6

  2. Lady Folly vs. 13–17

  3. The Result of Listening to Each vs. 7–12, 18

I will clue you in; you don’t want to listen to Lady Folly. Her sweetness was a guise and the pleasantness a facade. Lady Wisdom offered life, insight, and safety. Lady Folly takes her guests to the gates of Sheol. Where was that? Sheol stands for the place of the dead. It was the highway to Hell. So Solomon wrote in chapter 5 verse 4: “But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol” (Proverbs 5:4–5) and in verse 22: "The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray" (Proverbs 5:22–23). And in chapter 7: "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life" (Proverbs 7:21–23). A few verses later, he wrote: “A victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng, Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:26). And in chapter 9, verse 18: “But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol” (Proverbs 9:18). Whom do you want to eat with? Where do you want to go for lunch? 

TWO MEALS 

[Table - Sheet] Let me show you what is under here. Pastor shared an idea like this with us pastors this week. Under this cloth are two glasses. One is filled with milk; it will sustain you. Without it, you will die. The other is filled with what? It looks like milk. However, it is an insecticide. A little will make you sick; too much will kill you. The bread is the same. Both are my favorite. One will give us energy, and the other is laced with poison—Not really. Just because something sounds pleasant and good doesn’t mean it is. Lady Folly offers death. She doesn’t even know it. She sincerely thinks she is offering you something that is not sending you to Hell. 

THE DINNER BELL

How do we tell the difference? How do we pursue a dinner with wisdom and avoid foolishness? Look at verses 7, 8, and 9.


Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, 

      and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. 

            Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; 

      reprove a wise man, and he will love you. 

            Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; 

      teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:7–9) 


Who do you relate to in this chapter? 

REJECTION

Maybe you hear verses 7 through 9 and think you can relate to Lady Wisdom or King Solomon. Perhaps, you gave advice and, in return, got attacked? Maybe you were canceled trying to care? It happens. I know it has happened in this community. What do you do? Solomon says there comes the point where you should stop offering advice, exhorting, or trying to help (in that way). If you are a parent, this is important for us to remember that as our kids get older, you can’t force a child to see what you see and do what you want them to do. At some point, you will speak your peace in love and entrust them to God. So you can read this passage and see yourself as Lady Wisdom or King Solomon offering advice and getting abused. I think that is valid. However, that doesn’t seem to be what Solomon is getting at.  

ANOTHER APPROACH TO THE TEXT 

Who else could we be in this chapter? I think Solomon was asking us do we want to be the scoffer and wise one. God invites us to move towards wisdom and listen to correction humbly. A humble stance of listening is to hear input and correction. That is the difference between life and death. That is moving to Lady Wisdom’s table. So, let me level with you. Are you open to being exhorted? If someone wants to share with you or talk to you, correct you, will you respond defensively? Do you get butterflies in your stomach and look for a way out? If someone critiqued you at work or a customer complained, would you listen to what they are saying or seek to argue your way out? Recently, I noticed a desire in me to try to surround people with those who would refute the correction I was hearing. Why is that? I didn’t like what I was hearing. I didn’t believe it. I disagreed with them. Indeed, we are not going to agree all the time with each other. However, we can find some common ground and learn about ourselves. What if God wanted to work on some areas in my life, but I was not letting him because I wanted to protect myself? I fear from time to time that by agreeing to part of what a person says, they may misunderstand me. Or, they won't hear my perspective. Or, I lose part of myself. Fear is complex. But to the extent that I am concerned about my identity, I may be finding my identity in the wrong place. Is my identity in how people view me or agree with me? Or is my identity how God views me? It should be God. I struggle with correction. Do you? 

PAST CONFLICT

Another time in the last few weeks, I conflicted and reflected on it later. I went through my points up and down, back and forth in my head. I couldn’t sleep. I woke up and went on a run, thinking about it. I began to wonder, why do I care? What is the emotion inside me telling me? What do I want to defend, guard, and control? What am I craving? What am I longing for? What do I want to have happened? Too often, I want to be the king. I want to be the boss. I want things to go my way and people to bow to me. I don’t care or believe or value other people. I care, believe, and value myself, but not others. That sounds horrible. It is. When my will is not being followed, and I get upset, I miss who the boss is, God. What does my selfishness say about my God? I am putting myself on the throne not God. That is not right. That is the way of the scoffer. Aware of that tendency, I can run the other way and trust in God. Can you relate? Let us use our defense mechanisms and emotional responses and introspection to understand ourselves and repent of being the scoffer because we all can be the scoffer at some point in our life. God wants our attention. Our biggest problem is not each other, not our political perspectives, not our view on masks, but ourselves. Let us take our log in our eyes: choose to listen. Let’s work to see correction as God’s intervention in life. Let’s love it and turn to it and hear God through it. 

ENDING 

Solomon ends these verses this way: 


The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,

    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

For by me your days will be multiplied,

    and years will be added to your life.

If you are wise, you are wise for yourself;

    if you scoff, you alone will bear it. (Proverbs 9:10–12)


The choice is yours. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.  Are you going to eat the poison or life-giving provision of God? Proverbs 9 isn’t saying good things will always happen. It is saying that God is worthy to be trusted and respected. Fear him. Solomon was pointing to a life lived in fear of the Lord or a Godward respect; that is our starting point to dining with Wisdom. You can trust God. The good news is that our stories are not over. We have hope. Why? Because God loves us and us to dine with him every day. He is our wisdom, righteousness, and peace. He died to forgive us of our foolishness and sin and offer us new life in him. 

PRAYER 

Let’s pray.


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