Invitations of Wisdom and Folly
9 Wisdom has built her house;
she has set up its seven pillars.
2 She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
3 She has sent out her servants, and she calls
from the highest point of the city,
4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
5 “Come, eat my food
and drink the wine I have mixed.
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of insight.”
7 Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults;
whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.
8 Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.
9 Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Cleaning up the kitchen, clearing papers off the dining room table and/or the kitchen countertop, vacuuming the carpet throughout the whole house; unfolding and possibly ironing the “good” tablecloth or placemats; digging out the fancy silverware; setting the table just right; folding the cloth napkins in such a way that they stand up identically on each plate; getting out decorative serving bowls and washing the dust out of them; selecting the right background music; strategically placing the candles so they illuminate the various rooms just right but yet making sure their scent is not too overpowering; turning on the decorative exterior lights … these are easily some if not all the different things which go into the preparation of having guests over for dinner. On top of all these things to get prepared … the hardest thing can be the menu. What are we going to serve for an appetizer, the meal, and then desert? What dishes will we need? What allergies do we need to consider? What foods do our guests like or not like? What do our guests like to drink? Oh yeah … who are we going to invite over and how many people are we talking about?
Hosting a meal consists of a lot of hard work. Not only does getting all the prep work done take a while and wear you out, but making sure the food is just right, that it isn’t burnt or undercooked, that you didn’t forget anything, and that everything is set to be done at the same time can be stressful. On top of that, at the end of a hopeful enjoyable evening, there is the cleaning up. Cleaning up can be equally if not even more exhausting as you have to put away everything you got out just for that one meal. But hosting meals, whether it be for a friend, a group of friends or co-workers, or the whole family … there is an element of excitement as well. One of life’s more enjoyable experiences is getting together with friends and family for a meal. Jessica and I love hosting people. She does the setting up, I do the cooking, and we both clean-up. Our system works pretty well, considering we have two kids who are usually at our feet or are just being kids.
In the book of Proverbs, wisdom is personified as a woman. In our reading from chapter nine, she is preparing her house for company. “She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine; she has also set her table” (Prov. 9:2). The house is clean, the table is set, and the meal is ready to go. Now she needs some guests. So she sends out her maids, and she calls from the highest point of the city. This invitation she gives isn’t just for one or two close personal friends or for family members to come over for a casual meal. The maid calls out saying, “‘Let all who are simple come in here!’ she says to those who lack judgment” (9:4).
Now I want to pause a moment here and unpack this phrase because this doesn’t sound like the typical guests you would invite to a feast. This actually sounds like the last person you may want to invite. In the original Hebrew language, to be considered simple is to be considered inept, gullible, easily persuaded, young and naïve. This type of person is one who lacks judgment, who lacks sense, who lacks destitute of the mind or is deprived of common sense. Again, not the type of person who is found on the top of many dinner guest lists.
But what we need to understand is that this feast which Wisdom provides is a different kind of feast. It is different than the one which you and I would host. The Bible is always reminding us that there is something much more important than the earthly, physical food we consume. We are reminded in Deuteronomy 8:3, “[M]an does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” This feast Wisdom is inviting people to ties in real nicely with the sermon series Pastor Meyer is doing on the importance of being in God’s Word. In our reading Wisdom is inviting those who are simple, those who are gullible, easily persuaded, who lack good sense to feast on God’s Word. Wisdom is inviting guests who are by nature sinful and unclean to feast upon the rich life giving goodness of God’s Word. We are invited to feast on God’s Word. And in connection to Pastor Meyer’s series … we are invited to feast on God’s Word by coming to church, attending Bible classes, reading and sharing the Word of God at home and with friends.
In order to do that though, in order to come in and feast on God’s Word… we need to do something. When you are asked over for Thanksgiving dinner or to a get together with friends, what must you first do? You need to accept or deny the invitation. Friends, you have been invited to feast on God’s Word … are you going to accept or deny that invitation? I pray that you don’t deny it, but rather I pray that your response is more like Joshua’s when he posed the question to the Israelites in the Promised Land near the end of his life. Joshua asked if the people were going to go and serve the false gods of their forefathers or were they going to accept the invitation and serve the LORD. His response??? … “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).
Once the invitation is accepted, we need to follow Wisdom’s instruction of “Come, eat my food and drink the wine” (Prov. 9:5). We can’t just accept the invitation and then not follow through. That false acceptance is like not even accepting the invitation in the first place. Instead it would be good to follow the words of Jesus’ half-brother James when he says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22). Do what it says.
“But pastor, that is hard to do.” Trust me, I know that it isn’t easy. There are so many things biding for our time and attention, so many things which can easily distract us, so many things which look more appetizing and eye pleasing, so many other parties we could attend. The pathway to everlasting life is not a flat trek through green pastures … the pathway to everlasting life is one full of steep and uneven hills, sharp and dangerous curves, as well as deep dark frightening valleys. Yet no matter where you are on this path, the invitation to feast, the invitation to come and eat the food and drink God provides is always there.
Not only are you invited to feast on God’s written Word of Scripture … God offers you another invitation, a deep and personal invitation. An invitation made by the One who is both the host and meal itself.
Unlike the feasts hosted at a friend’s or family member’s house, there is nothing pretty about the setting of this heavenly meal which Jesus provides. This meal of Jesus’ body and blood is prepared on the blood stained wooden altar of a cross. It is a meal which doesn’t come with fancy table settings and elegant candle lighting but instead it is served on an uneven, rocky hill in the midst of utter darkness. Even though it may sound like it … this feast served on this mountain outside of Jerusalem is not a bitter feast, it is not a dark and depressing meal in the sad remembrance of a man named Jesus who died the most gruesome death ever imaginable.
On the contrary, the prophet Isaiah says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces” (Isaiah 25:6-8 ESV). Your Savior Jesus Christ invites you to the grandest of all feasts which could ever be prepared.
And he does so today by providing you a foretaste of the true heavenly meal yet to come. Jesus invites you, those who are simple, those who lack judgment, those who are weary and burdened to come … come to this meal and Jesus will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). No matter where it is that you are in your faith walk, Jesus comes to you. He comes to you to grant you not only the forgiveness of your sins, but to strengthen you in your faith and to give you the reassurance that no matter where you go … He is there with you, holding you up with his righteous right hand.
The house is built, the table is set, the heavenly angels are providing the background music, and the meal is ready. The invitation has been personally extended to you. An invitation to feast upon both the written and living Word of God. Come, eat and drink and see that Lord is good! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.