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Leaving Your Old Ways for the Ways of Wisdom
Proverbs 9:4-6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
As for him who is in want of heart, she says to him,
5 “Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of understanding.”
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”: The simple (פֶּתִי pethi) referred to hear are the inexperienced, the lowly, the humble of God’s people. Wisdom’s asking these ones of little education, who were scorned and disdained by the elite to turn in here [her house], to share a feast with her. While Wisdom’s invitation to share a meal that she has prepared is the intended meaning, but the sense here is that these ones need to acquire wisdom and the benefits that it will bring.
When the Son of God came to the earth, he did not take the good news to the elite of the Jewish people, the wealthy, the Jewish religious leaders. We are told in Luke 4:16-21, “and he [Jesus] stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. And he unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Yes, Jesus came to bring the good news of the kingdom, to free them from the Jewish religious leaders and those of noble birth, who were oppressing them. The apostle Paul told the Corinthians Christians similarly. He wrote, “For consider your calling, brothers, that there were not many wise according to the flesh [not wise according to human standards], not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the insignificant things [implying a lack of noble descent; inferior] of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that he might bring to nothing the things that are.” – 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
From the very start of Christianity, those who were chosen and those who were attracted to this new faith was primarily the lowly, humble people. The twelve apostles of Jesus Christ, the foundation of Christianity, were not selected from the elite of the Jewish religious leaders: the educated scribes and Pharisees. (Ephesians 2:20) Rather, they were from the working class who performs manual labor for very little wages, having the very basic education needed, four being fishermen by trade. (Matthew 4:18-22; 10:2-3) These men were viewed by the elite religious leaders as “uneducated and untrained men.” Young’s Literal Translation (YLT) has “unlettered,” that is, not educated in the rabbinic schools; not meaning illiterate. (Acts 4:13) These so-called “lettered” highly educated scribes and Pharisees talked down to, disparaged, denigrated the long-awaited Messiah, scornful and disdainful of his teachings and his followers.
As for him who is in want of heart, she says to him: An inexperienced person is newly learning as to the ways of Wisdom. Because he is inexperienced, this one may be “in want of heart,” as Solomon expresses it. The Hebrew (חֲסַר־לֵב chaser leb) is rendered (interpreted) as “lacks sense” in other translations. (ESV, LEB, CSB) Again, this is an inexperienced person, who is lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment in that they are newly learning the ways of Wisdom. This one’s motives need not necessarily be bad, and it will take some time to bring one’s heart to the ways of Wisdom. This involves bringing this inexperienced one, the new one’ thoughts, desires, affections, emotions, and goals in life into harmony with the will and purposes of God. When someone has put on the new person, has acquired a biblical worldview, has the mind of Christ, they have molded the inner person in a godly way, “getting heart.” – Proverbs 19:8.
“Come, eat of my bread: The Hebrew word for bread (לֶחֶם lechem) can be used in a general sense for food. Verse 5 is “a parallel to the higher teaching of the Gospels (cp. John 6:27; Matt. 26:26).”
and drink of the wine I have mixed: Here, again, 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.
Leave your simple ways, and live: These inexperienced ones need to leave behind their foolish ways, quit associating with ignorant ones who reject the ways of Wisdom. And live (חָיָה chayah) is giving one’s former life with these foolish ones.
and walk in the way of understanding.”: In Hebrew, walking (אָשַׁר ashar) can be following a life course, and the sense of the word here is behavior, to now live or behave in the way of Wisdom. Understanding (בִּינָה binah) is the ability to see how the parts or aspects of something are connected to one another. One who possesses understanding can see the big picture (the entire matter) and not just the isolated facts. Discernment and understanding involve comprehending, perceiving, grasping what the authors meant, identifying individual verses in light of the whole, weighing, or evaluating one verse considering the others.
Lady Wisdom has sent out her servant girls to town to invite everyone who is able to hear her voice. She is especially looking for those who lack understanding or are simply confused about the life that is before them, these being the inexperienced ones. These ones are being offered a chance at a different kind of life than they had previously known. The wisdom found within God’s Word is able to help man in his imperfection, to make the choices that he would have made under perfection. Simply put, the simple (inexperienced; lacking good sense) are invited to the feast to become wise.
 I.e. inexperienced
 I.e. lacking good sense
 I.e. inexperience
 Or unlettered (YLT) that is, not educated in the rabbinic schools; not meaning illiterate.
 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), 33.
 Walk: (הָלַךְ halak) in integrity (Heb. tōm) a state of blamelessness being free of guilt. (Prov. 2:7) In the Bible, the expression “to walk” is figurative and illustrative and can mean to follow a certain course of action, as “Noah walked with God.” (Gen. 6:9; 5:22) Those who walk with God follow the life course outlined by God’s Word and will find his favor, that is, be pleasing to him. Pursuing such a life course makes you different from most unbelievers. The Greek New Testament uses the same illustrative expression, contrasting two different courses of action sought by one before and after becoming a servant of God. (Eph. 2:2, 10; 4:17; 5:2) Similarly, “running” is also used to symbolize a course of action. (1 Pet. 4:4) God tells us that the prophets in Judah “ran” though he did not send them, yet they took the prophetic course, prophesied falsely. (Jer. 23:21) Paul gives us a visual picture of the Christian course in terms of “running.” He compares it to a race that a person must run while also obeying the rules of the race if they are to win the prize. – 1 Cor. 9:24; Gal. 2:2; 5:7.