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We Are Now Beginning Chapter 9 of Proverbs, Wisdom Versus Stupidity
Many times, when we face a difficult decision in life, we seek out a second opinion from another, going to the wisest person we know. Wisdom is the ability to take the knowledge and understanding that we have acquired and apply it to life’s situations. Thus, as we have seen back in chapter 4, verse 7, we were exhorted to “get wisdom.” Moreover, the book of Proverbs begins with the importance of knowing wisdom and instruction. There are two invitations in Proverbs chapter 9: Lady Wisdom and Lady Foolishness, the simpleminded foolish woman. Lady Wisdom is sending her maidens out into the streets, the highest parts of the city, to offer all to her feast. The simpleminded foolish woman is sitting at the door of her home, which is also in the highest part of the city, inviting all who pass by to her home for a feast. The choice one makes is a matter of life and death, depending on whose invitation is accepted. Only those who have a reverential fear of displeasing Jehovah God will choose wisely.
The Way of Wisdom
Proverbs 9:1-2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
9 Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
Wisdom has built her house: In 8:34, Wisdom first refers to her house. It is wisdom herself, who has built her house, not having another do it for her.
She has hewn her seven pillars: The Greek Septuagint (LXX) has, “she has set up her seven pillars.” The Hebrew text has hewn (חָצַב chatsab or חָצֵב chatseb), which refers to taking an ax or ax-like tool and striking an object to cut off or out of another main object. Pillars are a tall vertical structures of stone or wood used as a support for a building, or a portico, which is a porch or walkway leading to a house. Albert Barnes observes, “The number is chosen as indicating completeness and perfection. God revealing Himself in nature, resting in His work, entering into covenant with men—these were the ideas conveyed by it.”
On the pillars, John H Walton writes, “Many theories have been put forward to explain the significance of the seven pillars of Wisdom’s house. Perhaps the most notorious suggests that the previous chapters can be divided into seven speeches, but the text does not naturally divide into the desired units to make this theory work. Some interpret the significance of the number seven as indicating the seven planets known at the time; others take it as a reference to the seven creation days. However, the simplest and best explanation is to take the number seven in its typical symbolic sense as indicating completeness. We are to picture a beautiful, large house.” The author of Proverbs is simply conveying the idea that Wisdom’s home has much space and is well-made and impressive, while the fool or the stupid one’s home is found in Sheol, that is, gravedom. The number seven can be seen as the adequacy or abundance of this house, as being the right size, and having plenty for the banquet.
She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine: Here, slaughtered (טָבַח tabach) simply means killing or butchering animals or beasts raised specifically for food. Here, mixed wine may refer to the practice of diluting wine with water. The Jewish people did not find undiluted wine as being tasteful. The wine on Passover was mixed with three parts water and one part wine. Then, again, there was also the practice of mixing spices into the wine to give it a variety of flavors. Or, it could be that wisdom did both of these.
She has also set her table: Setting her table meant preparing it for food for a banquet. The table itself is not like the modern-day table, but rather a mat or some animal hide placed on the floor. It could also be some wooden structure that is only a few inches off the floor.
We see that wisdom has built a strong house, which is ready to receive many people. It seems that the feast is ready, as the meat is there and the wine, with the table being set. The question that begs to be asked at this point is, ‘who are the guests that have been invited to this feast?’ Feasting with wisdom from God brings about no hurt, no reproach, no regrets, but only improvement of oneself and the creation or formation of right motives in the heart. We, in our humility, need to take wisdom’s discipline, thereby rejecting death, and instead choose life in honor and happiness.
 Lit slaughtered her slaughtering
 Illustration by Dylan Karges
 Albert Barnes, Notes on the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Jeremiah, Lamentations & Ezekiel, ed. F. C. Cook and J. M. Fuller (London: John Murray, 1879), 32.
 John H Walton, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Old Testament): The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009), 480.