Folly Calls Out to You

“The woman Folly is loud;

    she is seductive and knows nothing.

14 She sits at the door of her house;

    she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,

15 calling to those who pass by,

    who are going straight on their way,

16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”

    And to him who lacks sense she says,

17 “Stolen water is sweet,

    and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”

18 But he does not know that the dead are there,

    that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”

Proverbs 9:13-18 ESV

The typical approach in the book of Proverbs is to contrast wisdom and folly. Chapter nine presents a wonderful contrast between the two, but not without first presenting some similarities.

Like Wisdom in verses 3-6, Folly is personified as a woman in verses 13-18. Also, like Wisdom, Folly isn’t content to be alone. Her desperate desire is that others join her. Thus, she locates herself in public places – “at the door of her house” or “in the highest places of the town” (vs. 14) – from where she calls passersby. Her call is the same as that of Wisdom’s: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” However – and this is where the contrasts between Wisdom and Folly begin – Folly’s intent with the simple is not to make him wise.

In contrast to Wisdom, Folly “knows nothing” (vs. 13), and she desires that we be like her, simpletons. To that point she is an evangelist, trying to draw our affections with “stolen water” and “bread eaten in secret” (vs. 17). What she doesn’t say, and what we find out too late – after we have stopped by her place for foolish pleasure – is “that the dead are there, that her guests [those of us fools who took the bait] are in the depths of Sheol” (vs. 18).

Folly reminds me of a turkey hunter in so many ways. The hunter disguises himself and projects the sound of a turkey, and by the time the turkey realizes (if he does) that he has responded to a false offer, it’s too late. The hunter has his prize.

Beware, every voice that says, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” is not Wisdom. Folly desires to destroy you. Wisdom desires to give you life. We have to be able to discern between the voice of Wisdom and Folly. What’s your plan to do that?

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