Proverbs 9:1-18 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

Note: For more information relevant to this present passage of Proverbs nine, see the accompanying Appendix (PDF download) that deals with the following topic: “Who Is Sophia?” An Explanation of the Feminine Personification of Wisdom in Proverbs 9.

1. How is “the scoffer” described in Proverbs 9:7-8a (printed below?)

Whoever corrects a scoffer incurs abuse; and whoever rebukes a wicked man receives a wound. (8) Do not rebuke a scoffer, if you do he will hate you. (Proverbs 9:7-8a)

“The scoffer” is the individual who is absolutely hardened and settled in the way of godlessness, as though he were set in concrete. Here is an individual who sets himself against divine wisdom and will not consider it; choosing to attack it rather than receive it and submit his life to it. “Whoever corrects a scoffer incurs abuse;” that is to say, whoever admonishes a scoffer receives contempt and rebuff for his effort.

2. In contrast to the scoffer, how does Proverbs describe “the wise man?” See Proverbs 9:8b-9 (printed below)

Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. (9) Give instruction to a wise man and he will become wiser; teach a righteous man and he will increase in knowledge. (Proverbs 9:8b-9)

In contrast to the scoffer who has a firm connection with wickedness, the wise man has a firm connection to righteousness. Note that whereas the scoffer and the wicked man are spoken of together, so too are the wise man and the righteous man. A wise man has a humble spirit that is receptive to correction: “rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.” This attitude stems from the fact that he wants to be in a right relationship with the Lord and therefore he welcomes correction. A wise man has a teachable spirit that has the capacity and the desire to grow in godliness (verse 9b).

3. How is “the Woman Folly” described? See Proverbs 9:13-15 (printed below) What do you think she represents? To whom does she make her appeal? See Proverbs 9:16 (printed below)

The woman Folly is boisterous; she is naïve and knows nothing. (14) She sits at the door of her house, on a seat overlooking the heights of the city. (15) She calls to those who pass by, to those who are going about their business, saying, (16) Whoever is naïve, let him come in here! (Proverbs 9:13-16a)

Verse 13 introduces us to “the Woman Folly.” This “woman” figuratively represents such negative attributes as the lack of good godly sense and foresight; such foolishness is here personified as a seductive woman. She is described as being “boisterous” (turbulent, restless, unstable) and “naïve” and she “knows nothing.” Her lifestyle and decisions are impulsive, uninformed by the knowledge and truth of God, and reckless. Verse 16 indicates that the “Woman Folly” especially directs her attention towards “the naïve;” he is a likely candidate for her seductions, for he is aimless, impulsive, thoughtless, and not rooted into Christ. He has a natural affinity and identification with her; they both are described by the same term: “naïve.”

4. What seductive invitation does the Woman Folly make to the man who lacks understanding? See Proverbs 9:17 (printed below) To what do you think she is referring? What warning does Proverbs 9:18 (printed below) give?

Stolen waters are sweet; bread eaten in secret is delicious. (18) But he does not realize that the dead are there; her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:17-18)

Verse 17 reveals the seductive approach the Woman Folly makes towards the naïve, she informs him, “Stolen waters are sweet, bread eaten in secret is delicious.” She focuses on the exotic, the exciting, the adventurous aspects of sin, the forbiddenness of that which is the object of temptation (“stolen waters are sweet.”) Such a presentation of sin is especially appealing to someone who is impulsive, thoughtless, and lacking strong Christian convictions. In verse 18 we are informed, however, that those who accept Folly’s invitation (i.e.; those who accept her lifestyle and make it their own), and come to her, finally end up in “Sheol” (which here must be given the full sense of hell: the place of damnation).

5. How is the wisdom of God personified in Proverbs 9:1-3 (printed below?) To whom does she make her appeal (see verse 4 printed below?) What are he terms or conditions of her invitation (see verses 5-6 printed below?)

Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn out its seven pillars. (2) She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has set her table. (3) She has sent out her maid servants, and she calls out from the tops of the heights overlooking the city (Proverbs 9:1-3)

Whoever is naïve, let him come in here! She says to him who lacks understanding, (5) Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. (6) Forsake your ways, you who are naïve, and you shall live; walk in the way of understanding! (Proverbs 9:4-6)

In verse 1 the wisdom of God is personified as a noble woman who has prepared a great banquet. Her house is a beautiful and solidly constructed mansion, she has set her table with a bounty of delicious foods, and she now sends out her maidens, and she herself goes out, to invite guests to this wonderful banquet. According to verse 4, the object of her attention is “the naïve.” She invites the spiritually unattached, the uncommitted, the spiritual drifter, to come and take a place at her banquet table. From verses 5-6 note the terms of the invitation: all her finest food and accommodations are offered to the naïve, but he must give up his ways—his ways of aimless, impulsive drifting; his desire to be in charge of his life: to do what he wants to do when he wants to do it—and place himself under her discipline.