Thursday, February 16, 2023

Wisdom and Folly (Proverbs 9)

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here” (Prov. 9:4a, 16a).

We return today to our study of Proverbs with Charles Bridges where chapter 9 continues Solomon’s instruction on the pursuit of wisdom. Here Solomon portrays the tension between the call of wisdom and the temptation of sin. In life we often come to a fork in the road. Down one way wisdom beckons, and down the other folly calls loudly for you to follow her. Which will you answer? Can you discern the difference between them? “Both are wooing your heart,” Bridges wrote. “The one for life—the other for death. Both are intensely anxious for success. Wisdom cries. The foolish woman is clamorous. Both take their station in the high places of the city. Both spread out their feast for the simple and ignorant, smiling and happy on the brink of ruin. But how opposite their end? The one makes the simple wise unto eternal life. The other bears away her willing captive into unutterable misery. Which voice arrests your ear, and allures your heart? Whose guest are you?”

At the beginning of chapter 9 we find Wisdom preparing a great feast—which can be likened to the Gospel feast to which Christ invites all to come. The message is to fear God and find life. The only path to peace is along this road established by Wisdom. Without it you will surely enter the gates of hell—the fate of all who ignore wisdom and hearken to the calls of folly.

Inserted between this description of the calls of wisdom and folly is a warning not to reprove a scoffer. Here we receive some advice from Solomon regarding how and when we should deliver Wisdom’s message to others. We must discern those who scorn the truth. Not all sinners are scorners, and we must fulfill our duty to proclaim the Gospel to all. But there are times when to reprove someone with the Gospel message would create disdain and scoffing. It we encounter someone such as this, we should wait until a more opportune time, when the irritations have subsided. “Await the favourable opportunity,” Bridges advises. “Sometimes a sad, serious, intelligible silence is the most effective reproof. Whereas open rebuke might stir up a torrent of hatred and abuse.” We should not flinch from giving the message of Christ, but we must also be wise to know when it is best to speak.

Do you know someone to whom you have tried to present the Gospel, or whom you have needed to rebuke about something but they have only scoffed at you? Have there been times when you have spoken to them when you should have been quiet? Ask God to soften their heart and give you wisdom to know when to speak the truth.