I read one of my most favorite chapters of Proverbs the other day. I love what it says, but as much or more, I love the way it says it.
Let me explain.
Proverbs 9 begins with a personification of Wisdom. She builds her house, sets up her pillars, prepares her food, mixes her wine, sets her table. She’s ready host a party! So who does she invite? Well, we are told “she calls from the tops of the heights of the city: ‘Whoever is naive, let him turn in here!’” (v. 3) Sounds to me like an open invitation— at least to those who desire to know her. Again, she addresses those who need what she has to give. “To him who lacks understanding she says, ‘Come . . . eat . . . forsake your folly . . . proceed in the way of understanding.” (v.6) Wisdom isn’t given only to an exclusive set of people. It is given to anyone who chooses not only to hear, but to act on what they have heard.
Next comes a five verse interlude that talks about correcting and reproving the foolish and the wise and the benefits of gaining wisdom, the beginning of which is the fear of the Lord. (v. 10)
But v. 13 is where it gets really interesting. The first six verses of the chapter stand in direct contrast to the final five. Now we see a picture of the Foolish Woman, who also desires to entertain. She isn’t as deliberate in her preparations and when it comes to invitations, she sits in the doorway of her house “calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight.” (v. 15) Her target is not the masses, like Wisdom’s, but those who are trying to do right. And guess how she lures them in? With the same words as Wisdom! “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here.” (v. 16) She, too, addresses “him who lacks understanding,” but her message is of stealth and secrecy. Inside her house is death.
What strikes me is the similarity between the two scenes. For those who have not visited Wisdom’s house often, the invitations can sound the same, even if they are on a straight path, trying to do right. And yet the results are so very different. Do you see why I love this chapter? The word pictures (show, don’t tell!) are so vivid in their portrayal of Wisdom and Folly. I can see it play out like a movie in front of my eyes. The repetition of even the same phrases drives home the point. And when the truth of Scripture creates that kind of picture in my mind, it sinks more deeply into my heart.
What about you? Do you have a favorite word picture in Scripture?