Proverbs Chapter 9  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Proverbs 9
 
Pro 9:1

“seven pillars.” The use of “seven” here is symbolic of completeness and perfection, not that there is a “perfect” house that is built with seven pillars. Wisdom’s house is completely ready for people to come to. She is ready for guests.

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Pro 9:2

“slaughtered her meat.” The Hebrew uses the figure of speech polyptoton to catch our attention, and reads, “she has slaughtered [verb] her slaughter [noun].” The phrase “her slaughter” refers to the animals she has slaughtered to have fresh meat. Since the phrase “slaughtered her slaughter” is unclear to English readers, we opted for, “slaughtered her meat.”

“mixed her wine.” The wine in the biblical world was thick like a thick syrup, and so it was mixed with water before being served to guests.

“table.” At this time in biblical history, the “table” was either a cloth on the dirt floor (almost no one could afford a stone floor), or it was a very low table. Guests sat on the floor, eating with their right hand.

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Pro 9:3

“sent out her servant–girls.” The Hebrew word naarah (#05291 נַעֲרָה) generally refers to a young unmarried girl, who in this case, because they are the young women belonging to Wisdom, are her “servant-girls” or perhaps better in the culture, her “slave girls.” Because it could be hard to tell when a feast would be ready, it was customary, particularly in a small town or village, for the wealthy person who was hosting a feast to send out his servants to let everyone know it was time to come to the feast (cp. Matt. 22:3).

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Pro 9:4

“says.” The Hebrew is in the perfect tense as if it happened in the past. She continues her calling out, but it is clear she has been doing so for a long time.

“sense.” The Hebrew word is leb (#03820 לֵב), which is often translated “heart,” but this is one of those cases where that translation would cause confusion. In modern English, the word “heart” usually refers to emotion or passion, but that is not its meaning here. The function of the brain was unknown in biblical times, so things that we generally assign to the brain, like thinking, attitudes, understanding, and good sense, were assigned to the heart. In this case, the naïve people lacked “good sense.” [For more on the Hebrew word leb and “heart,” see commentary on Prov. 15:21, “sense”].

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Pro 9:5

“bread.” Bread was the staple food. It would be in abundance at any feast, and also “bread” was put by metonymy for food in general. Sometimes we translate the Hebrew word “bread” as “food,” but in this case since “bread” was mentioned along with “wine,” the verse had symbolic and even prophetic overtones. God’s Wisdom provides bread and wine, in His wisdom God provided us with the body and blood of the Lord, which was symbolized at the Last Supper, and almost certainly by Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), as bread and wine.

“mixed.” It was customary to mix wine with water. See commentary on Proverbs 9:2.

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Pro 9:6

“Leave your naïve ways and live.” This seems to be the best reading (cp. Waltke, Proverbs; and Keil and Delitzsch give the same essence). The word “naïve” refers to the naïve person, the simple fool peti (#06612 פֶּ֫תִי). There are other ways to interpret the verse, however. The NIV (cp. ESV) reads “Leave your simple ways,” but the word “simple” is a noun, not an adjective, so the NASB, “Forsake your folly and live,” gives the same basic idea, while retaining the noun form of “simple.” However, it is less likely that the verse is telling us all to forsake our simple ways, and more likely that it is telling the naïve to forsake their ways. It is important to note that the rendition of the KJV is possible, “Forsake the foolish, and live,” but this rendition is not taken by most commentators as the more likely meaning. The context is Wisdom, who has built her house, set her table, slaughtered her animals, mixed her wine, and is now inviting people to her feast (Prov. 9:1-5). The simple, naïve, ignorant fools of the world are encouraged to leave their ignorance and dine with wisdom.

One thing this verse clearly does is make it known that people do not have to be, or remain, naïve or simple. Too often people think they cannot change, or think that change requires too much work to be worth it. God expects people to keep working on their knowledge and character and become truly godly people.

“on the road.” We all walk on a road in life. The godly are supposed to walk on the road of understanding, and make the effort to stay straight ahead on it. A person trying to leave naïve and foolish ways may find many reasons, including pleasures and pressures, to return to foolish ways, but Wisdom prods us to walk straight ahead on the road of understanding.

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Pro 9:7

“rebukes a mocker.” The verse does not say not to rebuke a mocker, because sometimes that is necessary. However, it makes the point that there will always be ramifications. For example, there will always be people who think the mocker was correct and the person who rebuked him was wrong, or the rebuke was too harsh, or done at the wrong place or time, or something. There are always people who criticize and “shame” those who fight for godliness. God’s people must make up their minds that doing right is not a popularity contest; we only need to be popular with God, the world will always be against godliness. Sadly, too many people who know to do what is right don’t do it because of the conflict and shame that go with it, but the world won’t be handing out rewards on the Day of Judgment, God will, so the wise person does the will of God even if it means being shamed by some people here on earth.

brings injury.” The Hebrew is literally “a defect, a blemish,” but it comes as an injury, although the meaning also includes a moral blemish, in that case equivalent to “shame” in the first stanza, so we could almost expand it to “shame and injury.” Whereas the mocker is most likely to smear and shame anyone who tries to rebuke him, the wicked person is more dangerous and is likely to try to harm anyone who tries to reprove him. That does not mean we should not try to correct wicked people; sometimes it is necessary. But it does mean we must be aware that there is always a risk to ourselves. It is because of the shame and even potential danger of rebuking mockers and wicked people that believers have to be wise, pray for God’s help, and walk by the spirit of God.

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Pro 9:8(top)
Pro 9:9

“Give instruction to.” The Hebrew is simply “Give to,” requiring the reader to supply the subject from the context, which is “teach” in the second stanza. Although we filled in the subject with “instruction,” which is no doubt the primary meaning, the fact that the Hebrew text leaves the subject out alerts us to be aware of the many things we could give to the righteous man so he would continue to be wise, including reproof and correction.

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Pro 9:10(top)
Pro 9:11(top)
Pro 9:12

“for your own benefit.” The Hebrew is literally, “you are wise for you,” but the meaning is for your own benefit or advantage. Being wise may help others too, but the real advantage of wisdom is to the individual who is wise. There are many times when a wise man tries to help others but his wisdom is rejected or not even recognized, in fact, evil people may call wisdom “evil,” because evil people call good, “evil” (Isa. 5:20).

“you will bear the consequences by yourself​.” That the mocker will bear the consequences of his actions seems so obvious to the wise that they may feel that it does not need to be said. However, the mocker does not think that way. Mockers, no-goods, and evil people often act in groups or gangs, getting strength and encouragement from each other. A person may do evil as part of a group, but he will bear the punishment all alone. Although this verse is meant to have immediate temporal relevance, it also has eschatological overtones, because the great benefit of being wise comes on the Day of Judgment, and the great tragedy of being a mocker also occurs on the Day of Judgment, when a person bears the consequences of his judgment alone.

Although the words “the consequences” was added for clarity, it must also be kept in mind that they exclude some things. For example, the Law is clear that the sinner must bear his sin, and that sin can have a very heavy weight to it. Mocking is a sin, and if a person mocks, they must bear that sin until they confess it and get it taken from them.

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Pro 9:13

“Lady Folly.” This verse introduces us to the counterpart and adversary to Lady Wisdom (9:1; cp. Prov. 1:20), and “Lady Folly” is the personification of foolishness just as “Lady Wisdom” is the personification of wisdom. Translating the Hebrew text as “a foolish woman” is perhaps more grammatical, but then it is not nearly as easy to see the contrast and conflict between the two women of Proverbs, Wisdom and Folly. Understanding her as “Lady Folly” is acceptable in the Hebrew text, and we thought it communicated what God was trying to say (cp. “Folly,” NIV2011; “The woman, Folly,” HCSB, ESV; “Woman Folly” NAB; “the woman named Folly,” NLT).

“is boisterous.” The Hebrew word is hamah (#01993 הָמָה), and although it often refers to making a loud noise or growl, it can refer to being restless or turbulent. Thus translations of Lady Folly’s character include “rowdy” (HCSB), “loud” (ESV), “raucous” (NAB), “boisterous” (NASB), “brash” (NET), and “unruly” (NIV2011). She is all of these.

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Pro 9:14(top)
Pro 9:15

“calling out.” The Hebrew is “to call out,” but Waltke (New International Commentary on the Old Testament: Proverbs) refers to this as “the gerundive use of the [Hebrew letter] lamed with the infinitive,” and thus the sense is “calling.”

“making their paths straight.” One of the attributes of Folly (foolish people) is that she does not just consort with other fools, but works to lure in people who are trying their best to walk a straight path with God. That is why it is so important to have a personal vision and goals, and good counselors (friends) to help us stay on the right path.

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Pro 9:16

“Whoever is naïve.”​ Wisdom (Prov. 9:4) and Folly (Prov. 9:16) have the same invitation to the simple and ignorant, but their intent, and the end of accepting their invitation, is totally different.

“says.” The Hebrew is in the perfect tense as if it happened in the past. She continues her calling out, but it is clear she has been doing so for a long time. So in that sense, she is just like Wisdom, calling and calling for people to listen. The perfect tense verb is also used for Wisdom (cp. Prov. 9:4).

“sense.” The Hebrew word is leb (#03820 לֵב), which is often translated “heart,” but this is one of those cases where that translation would cause confusion. In modern English, the word “heart” usually refers to emotion or passion, but that is not its meaning here. The function of the brain was unknown in biblical times, so things that we generally assign to the brain, like thinking, attitudes, understanding, and good sense, were assigned to the heart. In this case, the naïve people lacked “good sense.” [For more on the Hebrew word leb and “heart,” see commentary on Prov. 15:21, “sense”].

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Pro 9:17

“Stolen waters.” A not-so-veiled reference to sex. Women were often compared to wells, springs, or fountains (cp. Song 4:12). She was luring the man with sexual pleasure, but other fleshly pleasures were being offered as well. The reference to “stolen” shows that the woman was open about her being married (something that in any case would have been quickly obvious to the man she was seducing), showing that foolish and evil people are not ignorant about their sin, but rather simply don’t care about it and have no ethical problem defying God and hurting others.

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Pro 9:18(top)
  

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