Friday, April 21, 2017

Duelling hostesses

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Proverbs 9:1-18

TO CHEW ON: "Wisdom ... cries out from the highest places of the city, 'Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!'
A foolish woman ... sits ... on a seat by the highest places of the city, to call to those who pass by, ... 'Whoever is simple let him turn in here.'" Proverbs 9:1, 3-4, 13-14, 16.

In Proverbs 9 we have two hostesses competing for guests.

Wisdom has prepared a banquet with meat and wine. She advertises a delicious and wholesome experience:
"'Come and eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed
Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding'"
- Proverbs 9:5-6.

Foolish Woman's commercial has an intriguing undertone to it—an air of mystery mixed with naughtiness:
"'Stolen water is sweet,
And bread eaten in secret is pleasant'"
- Proverbs 9:17.

Of course, this isn't really a story about two women and their banquets, but about choices we're faced with in life. Other places in the Bible express a similar idea:
  • Jesus talked about people having a choice between two different roads—a wide one and a narrow one (Matthew 7:13-14).

  • He also talked about building our house on two different foundations—sand or rock (Matthew 7:24-27).

How do we know which is the right banquet, the right road, the right foundation? Proverbs 9:10 gives us the answer:

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" -
Proverbs 9:10.

That choice may not have the sensual attractiveness of the other. We may need to ignore the clamoring of our human nature which finds stolen water, secret bread, the wide path, the easy foundation compelling. But such self-denial is a small price to pay for the final end: Wisdom's understanding and multiplied days, vs. Foolish Woman's scoffing, death, and hell.

PRAYER: Dear God, I recognize the voices that call out to me in these metaphors. Please help me to make the "fear of the Lord" choice in every situation. Amen.

MORE: Where to find the "fear of the Lord" choice
  • Romans 8 from the Message Bible:
"'Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life' Romans 8:6 - Message.
  • Rick Warren, from  The Purpose Driven Life:
I have read many books that suggest ways to discover the purpose of my life. All of them could be classified as 'self-help' books because they approach the subject from a self-centered viewpoint. Self-help books, even Christian ones, usually offer the same predictable steps to finding your life's purpose: Consider your dreams. Clarify your values. Set some goals. Figure out what you are good at. Aim high. Go for it! Be disciplined. Believe you can achieve your goals. Involve others. Never give up.

Of course these recommendations often lead to great success. You can usually succeed in reaching a goal if you put your mind to it. But being successful and fulfilling your life's purpose are not at all the same issue ....

How, then, do you discover the purpose you were created for? You have only two options. Your first option is speculation. This is what most people choose. They conjecture, they guess, they theorize....

Fortunately there is an alternative to speculation about the meaning and purpose of life. It's revelation. We can turn to what God has revealed about life in his Word" - Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, pp. 19,20.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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