As I read this scripture with the hope of preparing a little devotional for you, I found my mind running wild. The words and ideas seemed, with one hand, to reach back a couple of chapters. And then with the other to reach forward into the New Testament. The message of these six verses provides a contrast with something we read earlier. And it provided a parallel with something which the Lord Jesus has told us. “Wisdom hath builded her house.”
Who is it that hath built this house?
“Wisdom,” you say? And who is that wisdom? You might say that she is the blessing of God which gives the simple believer an advantage over the unbelieving intellectuals of the world. She is that part of faith which makes the saint of God more wise than the Rhodes scholars and the professors who profess to teach those scholars. She is the divine blessing which can make the plow boy rise above the member of Mensa with his IQ in the 98 percentile.
Or as we have often said, this wisdom is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness…”
This wisdom is the wonderful person of whom we read last week. “She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.” “Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.” “Wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. I wisdom dwell with prudence…” “Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.”
“Wisdom” stands in utter contrast to the “strange woman” of the 7th chapter. The one who with the subtle heart who clothed herself in the attire of the harlot. That woman’s “feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.” We are not thinking about THAT woman, but the woman named “Wisdom.”
What is it that wisdom has built?
She hath built her house. Of course, this house was an allegory – a metaphor. But in order to understand the point of the illustration, we have to have a basic grasp of the words.
Wisdom hath built a house – her own house. This Hebrew word is translated “house,” “household” and “home” over 2,000 times. But it is also rendered “temple” when speaking of the house of God. And it is also translated “family” a few times. So just for the sake of an application, what if we temporarily inserted these words into this verse? “Wisdom hath builded her temple.” Does that change the Spirit’s intent at all? I think it amplifies His meaning. But what about “Wisdom hath builded her family”? I’m not sure that idea harms in any way the Lord’s intent. But let’s stick with our translation.
In this poetic parallelism, what is the meaning of “hewn” – “she hath hewn out” a part of this house of hers? Isn’t this speaking about “digging out” something – carving it out of rock. And if I can extend the illustration, I see wisdom carving her home out of solid rock. But not just any rock. Jehovah “is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” – Deuteronomy 32:4. I see Moses standing in this house, the cleft of the rock as the glory of the Lord passes by. And I also picture the tomb where my Saviour was temporarily laid.
Do the seven pillars make any sense? Many houses have only four corners, where I suppose we might picture four pillars – but this is seven. Seven is often referred to as God’s perfect number – the number of perfection. But there weren’t seven pillars in any of God’s buildings – the tabernacle or the temples. The apostles are referred to as pillars in the early church, but there weren’t seven apostles. On the other hand there were the seven churches in Revelation, and the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth.” But the seven churches of Revelation were all less than perfect despite their number. Perhaps we should just stick with the idea that Wisdom has built a perfect house.
And what is the purpose of a house or home? What is the purpose of the Lord’s temple, if that is the way you’d like to take the illustration? It should be the place where God’s people fellowship with Him. And a home is the central point of the family – the place to which we retreat after a day in the world. It is a place where we can relax and fellowship. And arguably, the center of the house is the kitchen, where the family gathers to eat and talk.
Why has Wisdom built this house?
The first thing she mentions is to feast. “She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.” I know less about Hebrew than I do about Greek, as you are probably well aware. But my tools tell me that the words “killed” and “beast” are as closely connected as any 2 words can be. “Killed,” meaning “slaughtered,” is “tabach (taw-bakh’(“ and “beast” is ’”tebach (teh’- bakh).” Instantly my mind goes back to those beasts which were raised for the sole purpose of sacrifice. The day they were born, their owners examined them with the hope that one day they would be worthy of the Lord. And a year or so later, they were slaughtered by the priest and properly sacrificed. Then if it was the right kind of sacrifice, a portion was returned to the humble believer to be taken home for a special feast. That is what I picture “Wisdom,” the Son of God, having done here in this verse. And then she mingled her wine – she mixed her wine, removing the possibility of intoxication. She then furnished her table, making it ready for her guests.
“She hath sent froth her maidens, she crieth upon the hightest places of city.” This is the same kind of “cry” that she used in the last chapter – “calling people by name.” “Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”
Doesn’t this sound like our Lord’s parable in Matthew 22? “The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.”
To whom are wisdom’s maidens sent? Not to the wise. Not to those who think of themselves as wise. No, the servants are sent into the highways and hedges, calling to the same people the strange woman was calling earlier in Proverbs. “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”
Into this beautiful house, “Wisdom” is inviting the most needy people on earth – the seducable people. And she tells her maidens not to sugar-coat the invitations. “Don’t tell them that I love them; don’t tell them that if they are smart they will come to my feast.” Remind them – “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come.”
There are only a few criteria necessary to enter this house and enjoy this meal. First, you must be sufficiently hungry. Then you must not deny your true condition – your simplicity and want of understanding. And finally, you must be repentant – I mean, you must be willing to “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”
And why? For that we go back to another of the great verses from the last chapter. “For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.” “Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment: That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.” The simpleton who comes to Wisdom’s house – “findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.”