Bible Bites

Bible Bites

The Same But Different

Proverbs 9.13-18
The woman of folly is boisterous,
She is naive and knows nothing.
She sits at the doorway of her house,
On a seat by the high places of the city,
Calling to those who pass by,
Who are making their paths straight:
“Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,”
And to him who lacks understanding 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.

This text is both an invitation and a warning. Verse 16 is an almost verbatim repetition of verse 4, which is also an invita- tion from a woman. In both verses, a woman invites an inexperienced young man to come to a feast. But that's where the sim- ilarities end. The host in verse 4 is "Lady Wisdom", while the host in verse 16 is "Lady Folly". The first invitation is to feast in the house of wisdom. The result (v 6) is life and understanding. The benefits of such a feast are outlined in verses 7-12. The second invitation is also to a feast, but this time in the house of folly. The result of this feast is death (v 18).

Lady Folly appeals to the worst possible desires. The water of her feast is stolen, and the meal itself must be eaten in se- cret. Her invitation is laced with sexual innuendo, and suggests the invitation of a prostitute (compare the language and im- agery of 5.15-23; 6.24-35; and all of chapter 7). What she offers is clearly appealing, but ultimately deadly. No matter how sin is dressed up, it is still sin, which means it is still destructive. As Robert Alden astutely notes, "Lady Folly's house is not a home but a mausoleum. If you enter it you will not leave it alive."

The contrasting invitations, feasts and consequences of this chapter remind us of the nature of sin. First, sin is appealing. Despite what we preachers say about it, all of us know that sin looks, feels, tastes, smells and sounds good.

Second, sin works by taking good things — God-given things — and perverting them. Fire is a good thing, as long as it stays in the fireplace. On the living room floor, it's a different matter altogether. In the same way, sex, for example, is a God-given blessing. In ext of marriage, it is wholesome and desirable (Hebrews 13.4). Outside of marriage, it is sin and harms us in ways that we don't expect.

Third, sin requires us to evaluate and choose. If the invitation is the same and given to the same group, it demands dis- cernment. Each person must ask if he is truly naive and gullible. Each person must decide the credibility of the offer and the one offering it. Each person must evaluate the offer itself. Each person must carefully consider the consequences. Each person must choose.

Finally, sin has dreadful consequences. These consequences are not arbitrary, or negotiable, or easy, or alterable. They are built into the sin. All who sin will suffer.

For today, listen carefully and choose wisely.