From Carolyn Raney
Both Wisdom and Folly stand in the house.
The passage opens with Wisdom busy building her house with “seven pillars.” This is no small abode but a mansion, echoing Christ’s saying, “In my Father’s house, there are many mansions... I go and prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2) Wisdom is preparing a place for her beneficiaries. We find her busy in the house, so busy that she is not the one who leaves to call to the passersby, but rather her servants. The fact that she has servants suggests Wisdom’s place of prominence.
Folly, on the other hand, sits in the door of the house (vs. 14). The house has been built already, which might suggest even that it was stolen (like the bread and water a few verses later). She is not busy, but rather just sitting. She is neither in the house nor are her other guests. The scripture says that she “knows nothing,” meaning that she lacks “sense” just as much as her simple-minded prey.
Both Wisdom and Folly call from the highest places in town to those who pass by.
When Wisdom’s servants arrive at the high places to call to the simple, they already find Folly there. “[Folly] takes a seat on the highest places of town” (vs. 14). In the Old Testament, earth and heaven meet in the high places. One could find wisdom there, as Moses did with the Ten Commandments, or idolatry and temptation, as the Israelites experienced when they refuse to bring down the high places of foreign gods. In this passage, the high places are also “in town” rather than in the wilderness, which suggests that they will be regularly passed and regarded by the people. In this particular town, Folly is camping out at the high places when Wisdom’s servants arrive.
Additionally, Folly is described as “loud.” Will Wisdom’s young girls be heard over Folly’s cacophony? Perhaps that is why Wisdom sends several girls, because she knows that her adversary is already there.
Both Wisdom’s servants and Folly have the same call.
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (vs. 4, 16). They both know their audience – the simple, that is, “he who lacks sense.” Presumably, you could imagine that these are the only people left on the road, as the others have already chosen to dwell either in the mansion with Wisdom or in Sheol (vs. 18) with Folly.
Both Wisdom and Folly offer bread and drink.
Wisdom has been busy preparing a sacrificial banquet. “She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table” (vs. 2). Like the master of the wedding feast in Matthew 22, she invites in her guests, ANY guests who will come. She pleads, “come eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed (vs. 5, emphasis mine).” She offers them the fruit of her labors, and those labors come with great sacrifice.
Alternatively, Folly offers her guests the ill-gotten fruit of others’ labors: “Stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” The mixed wine has been replaced with sweet water. It is not the fruit of her labor, but it has been stolen. It is a cheap imitation of wisdom’s wine. The bread is not eaten in a festival communion, but it is eaten in secret. Folly’s offerings are a sad imitation of Wisdom’s true banquet feast.
The fear of the Lord is the door. Proverbs does not leave us without an answer to Folly’s ways. It teaches how to enter into Wisdom’s banquet. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (vs. 10). Or as it is says in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with me.” The fear of the Lord is the first step to enter into beautiful mansion and banquet feast.
Wisdom is calling. Will you answer?
I am the wife to my husband, mother and teacher to my four children, and the maker of a home that overflows with life, goodness, truth and beauty.