13 Folly is a rowdy woman; she is gullible and knows nothing. 14 She sits by the doorway of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, 15 calling to those who pass by, who go straight ahead on their paths: 16 “Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!” To the one who lacks sense, she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten secretly is tasty!” 18 But he doesn’t know that the departed spirits are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. — Proverbs 9:13-18
The Way of Folly
by Matt Pearson
West Franklin Campus
It is incredibly interesting to realize that according to Proverbs 9, wisdom and folly call out from the same place and invite the same people. Consider what the author says about wisdom in verses 3-4: “(Wisdom) calls out from the highest point of the city: ‘Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!’ To the one who lacks sense, she says, ‘Come...’”
Folly does the exact same thing. Look at verses 14-16: “(Folly) sits by the doorway of her house, on a seat at the highest point of the city, calling to those who pass by... ‘Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!’ To the one who lacks sense...” Wisdom and folly can be heard from the most prominent places, AND both call out to those who are inexperienced and lack sense.
What’s going on here? How is one supposed to know the difference? How does one know which one to follow?
That’s the point of the proverb. Proverbs was written (primarily) by a dad to his sons. The dad writes to communicate to his children that both folly and wisdom will be vying for their attention and surrender. They will cry out at the same time, from the same place, to the same people. Being the wise father that he is, he spells out for them what will result from their decision. Choose wisdom, and “your days will be many, and years added to your life...you are wise for your own benefit” (11-12a). Choose folly, and know that the “departed spirits are there, that (folly’s) guests are in the depths of Sheol” (18).
Wisdom leads to a thriving life. Folly leads to death and destruction. This dad wants his sons to know that when they face the choice between wisdom and folly, their decision matters and has tremendous impact. At every turn, a decision will need to be made between what is wise (what God says to do) and what is folly (what God says not to do). The path they choose to follow will lead to spiritual life or spiritual death.
Being that in Christ Jesus is wisdom (Colossians 2:3), believers in Him can know that what leads to real life is following Him and doing what we do with Him. Choosing to trust and follow Christ and being with Him is the way not only to avoid folly, but also to thrive as a human.
- If you are a parent, how are you helping your children understand the difference between folly and wisdom? How would they know where each of these ways of living will lead? List 2-3 ways you can begin doing it this week. Share with a friend.
- Read Proverbs 9. List all the benefits of wisdom (verses 1-12) and all the results of folly (verses 13-18). What are some practical examples where you have seen this play out in your own life? Who in your life needs to hear what you have learned?
- In your own words, what does it mean to say, “Following Jesus is following the way of wisdom”? How has following Jesus led you to wise decisions that resulted in a thriving life? Who do you know that needs to hear this?
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.