The House That Wisdom Built
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to Proverbs, chapter 9. For the past several weeks we have been discussing thirteen lessons on wisdom, with a summary. These thirteen lessons on wisdom were somewhat alike. Twelve of them begin with the phrase, “my son,” representing the address of Solomon to his son, based upon the need for wisdom as he had experienced it in his own life. Then we have one lecture on wisdom personified, as we noticed in chapter 8, where wisdom personified became the person of The Lord Jesus Christ. We are now going to look at the summary presented of the thirteen lessons at which we have been looking.

I would like for you to follow in your Bibles as we read all eighteen verses of this chapter in preparation for our discussion of the same. We read from verse 1:

Proverbs 9:

1 Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
2 She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
6 Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.
12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.
14 For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,
15 To call passengers who go right on their ways:
16 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
18 But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.

Perhaps you noticed as we read the Word of God that in this particular chapter there is presented to you a series of contrasts, primarily centering around the house of wisdom as it is contrasted with the house of folly. In the house of wisdom there was presented the feast of wisdom, and it was contrasted with the feast of folly.

The hostesses who lived in the houses were contrasted as well. In one house you find one who is symbolically represented as Lady Wisdom . She is presenting a plea to guests to attend the feast which she has so carefully prepared. You find in the house of folly Lady Folly , and instead of a plea, you will find a proposition because the hostess in the second house is exactly what the name we have given her implies—an individual who is more interested in the downfall of men than she is interested in the welfare of men who pass by her door.

Lady Wisdom's House

One of the things that interests us immediately, one of the things about which a great deal of discussion has been continued and about which many pages have been written is the house in which Lady Wisdom lives. Look at verse 1, please:

Proverbs 9:

1 Wisdom hath builded her house…

There is nothing particularly strange about that, for if you glance across the page, you will notice that Folly had a house as well. But the interesting thing about the house in which Lady Wisdom lives is that in her house were seven pillars which were hand hewn, indicating the permanency of her house in contrast to the house in which Folly lived.

Those seven pillars have attracted the attention of Bible scholars and theologians down through the ages. There can be no question that what we have presented to us in this chapter is an allegory, so it is only natural for us to wonder what the significance is of those seven pillars. We would not have time to pursue a detailed discussion of all that is represented. All we can do is present to you the gleaning of what has been written down through the ages as to exactly what these seven pillars are.

One of the suggestions—perhaps the most ancient one—is that these seven pillars represent the seven days of creation. You might wonder why such a suggestion would be made, but you will recall that in chapter 8, the Lord Jesus Christ, as Wisdom personified, is described as the Master Workman who was with God in the beginning of creation and carried out the design of the creation. The house, then, according to these individuals, would be representative of God's handiwork, carefully planned and carried out during the seven days of creation.

Another suggestion has been made that these seven pillars represent the first seven chapters of the book of Proverbs in which all of the material for the house of wisdom is presented. You will remember that it is in these first seven chapters that we have discovered the thirteen lectures on wisdom that we have been looking at for the last several months.

Another suggestion has been made and that is that these seven pillars represent the basic ingredients of wisdom as they have been presented in these thirteen lectures. These ingredients have not been presented in every lecture, but when you go through all thirteen lectures, these seven ingredients are brought to mind. First is the matter of knowledge; then there is the matter of discretion; then there is matter of sound wisdom, followed by prudence, followed by counsel and continuing on into instruction, climaxing in understanding.

If your memory serves you well, you will recall that there are those seven basic ingredients to wisdom and significance in the believer's life. Perhaps the Holy Spirit, when He spake of wisdom's house being built with seven hand-hewn pillars, had in mind these. Of course, we don't know, and there is no way to be absolutely sure, but I would like to make a suggestion to you that appeals to me. I am wondering, if we must have some significance to these seven pillars, if perhaps they are representative of the seven characteristics of divine wisdom because that is what we are talking about. That is presented in chapter 3 of the epistle of James, verse 17:

James 3:

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

You will notice that the seven characteristics are as follows: Wisdom that comes down from above, James says, is pure. It is peaceable. It is gentle. It is easy to be entreated. It is full of mercy and good fruits. It is without partiality. It is without hypocrisy. This appeals to me because these seven characteristics are listed in the Word of God as being distinctly those characteristics of divine wisdom.

Lady Wisdom

We could suggest one other thing to you, and perhaps this is all that needs to be suggested. We have consistently pointed out to you the significance of numbers in the Word of God. The number seven is the number of perfection. It is the number of completion, so that when we read that Wisdom built her a house and hewed out seven pillars, perhaps all that we are to learn from this allegorical representation is that we are being presented with the story of complete and perfect wisdom in this chapter. If this be true it would behoove us to know something about what the Spirit of God is saying in this particular chapter, so let us begin by noticing right at the outset the central character in the story that is before us. I have suggested to you that there are two hostesses presented in the chapter by way of contrast. It might be well for us to become acquainted with the first hostess whom I have been pleased to call, for the sake of emphasis, Lady Wisdom . Notice in verse 2:

Proverbs 9:

2 She [Lady Wisdom] hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
3 She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,

Those of you who are familiar with the Gospels will remember that several times the Lord Jesus Christ, in order to present a truth, would describe a noble man who made a feast and went out and invited people to the feast, saying, “The feast is now ready. Come and dine.” Here in the Old Testament, Lady Wisdom, doctrine, full truth concerning the Word of God, has prepared a feast of things which are related to proper instruction in the Word of God and sends out an invitation to everybody to come and dine.

The feast we described to you as being a well furnished table. We don't need to be greatly concerned about the significance of the meat and the symbolism of the wine other than to say that primarily it represents an ample supply for everybody who is ready to come and partake of what she has prepared.

Did you notice what was said about the invitation in these verses? In the third verse she sent forth her maiden and then she herself went out upon the highest places (the prominent places in the city) and issued her invitation to all individuals in need to come and partake of what was provided for them. Of course, there is no need for me to take the time to draw the parallel that you should be able to draw in your own mind. The Bible represents a table well spread and there is an ample supply for everyone so that we can freely give the invitation, “Come and eat of the things which are provided.”

It is interesting for me to notice the progression of the invitation which was given because not only in verse 5 was the invitation given:

Proverbs 9:

5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

The invitation continued. Notice:

Proverbs 9:

6 Forsake the foolish, and live…

The two go together. You will never be able to respond to the invitation that God gives without forsaking that which pulls you away from the well plenished table of the Lord.

If we want to be very practical and make a very practical application, we would say to you that all of the opportunities that are provided for the study of the Word of God, a well spread table, you do not enjoy unless you forsake the foolish and live in the light of the Word of God.

Notice the word go . This word is an overworked word. Here we are not talking about going out into all the world and preaching the Gospel, as certainly is needed and is so often emphasized; but if you glance down at verse 6, we are to go in the way of understanding, which is just another way of saying that once you have sat down at the table and partaken of the food, you should be growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Nothing is sadder, certainly nothing is more discouraging to the minister of the Word of God than to know that people sit under the ministry of the Word for long periods of time and have an uncanny ability to tune out the doctrine plainly taught in the Word of God and to go on clinging to old ideas and old practices that are inconsistent with the Word. Perhaps one of the reasons is that the right kind of people do not hear the invitation and consequently cannot enjoy the blessing which are received when one sits at the table in the right spirit and in the right manner.

Abundant Life

What are the blessings that are received? I have just summed them all up in the words abundant life because I believe that is what is suggested in verse 11. Notice:

Proverbs 9:

11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

I believe that if men accept wisdom in the sense that we are talking about, they learn the secret of abundant living. Many individuals seek an abundant life through some kind of an emotional experience, but they discover that the abundant life doesn't last as long as they would like. The individual who is well grounded in the Word, taught in the Spirit, knows the secret of the abundant life and is able to live in the sense that is described in verse 11. Notice again:

Proverbs 9:

11 For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.

We mention that the right kind of guests have to be invited. This is not to suggest that when wisdom plans her feast, she is snobbish and particular and invites only certain groups of people who meet her requirements in the blue book of society registry. Rather, the invitation is to folk who are ready and willing to receive the message.

Look at verse 4:

Proverbs 9:

4 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
5 Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.

If you have been with us for all of these studies, you know that the guests who are described as being simple are not ignoramuses. They are individuals who are open to the truth, who are unbiased and who are willing to examine the truth and accept it on its face value. They are not individuals who say, “I have my own opinion, so don't confuse me with the facts.” They are individuals who say, “I want to know, and if it is there, I want to accept it.”

The folk who are described here as individuals who are wanting understanding are not individuals who are wanting in understanding in the sense that they are fools and have no capacity to understand. Rather, they are individuals who are literally desiring knowledge and wisdom and discernment. That kind of people Wisdom invites to her house.

Madame Folly's House

I would like for us to take a few moments in contrast for the purpose of emphasizing how wonderful it is to be invited to the house of wisdom, to think a bit about the house of folly to which I have already made reference. Perhaps the first thing that needs to be emphasized is that the house of folly is just that. It is a house with no pillars. Consequently, there is no permanence, and if there is one distinctive difference between the house of folly and the house of wisdom in our discussion, it is that the house of folly does not have the seven pillars to which we have referred. It consequently lacks the permanence in meeting the needs of those whom the hostess of the house invites in because there is a hostess in the house of folly. Call her Madame Folly because she is not quite a lady. As a matter of fact, the description that is presented of her is characterized by words which I have suggested to you as stupid, flighty, caring for nothing, and knowing nothing— primarily, knowing nothing about eternal things .

Notice verse 13:

Proverbs 9:

13 A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.

I have chosen the words which amplify the words presented in the King James Version for the sake of emphasis.

There is a comparison. Lady Wisdom prepared a feast. So did Madame Folly. There is a difference, however, in the kind of feast that was prepared, for her feast was not characterized by wine. It was characterized by water. It was characterized by bread. On the surface you might think that a feast where they served water instead of wine certainly would be a much better, cleaner, moral feast. But remember, no Scripture is of any private interpretation. It must all be interpreted one in the light of the other, and you recall that we have visited Madame Folly before in our study in the book of Proverbs. She suggested that it was much more interesting to the average man to drink water from another man's cistern than to drink water at his own cistern.

At that particular time, she was speaking of illicit sex relationships, and she is still talking about the same thing in the house of folly which she has built because you will notice in verse 17:

Proverbs 9:

17 Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.

Instead of giving the kind of invitation that Lady Wisdom gave—an invitation that was given from the high places in public with no secret intrigue—she sat in the doorway of her house as though there was something mysterious and marvelous within and suggested that folk come in and partake of stolen waters and of bread that could be secretly eaten.

Of course, this trick that Madame Folly used is still being used by the Devil today, for emphasis is still being placed by Satan upon the idea that people can find more satisfaction in things that are forbidden than things which are permitted. Take away the permission and it always becomes more desirable, and Satan has found a way of emphasizing that to the extent that a great many people fall prey to the suggestion that he makes.

I would like for you to notice with me here a paragraph that certainly should be emphasized because it represents something that many of us have failed to realize in relation to witnessing for Christ, in extending the invitation, shall we say, to those who need to have the invitation presented. Notice with me the paragraph which begins with verse 7:

Proverbs 9:

7 He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
8 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Soul Winning and the Presentation of Truth

Keep in mind that this paragraph follows immediately upon the heels of the invitation that was issued by Lady Wisdom when she went out in the prominent places and invited everybody to come to her feast. She had discovered what we have discovered if we have done much witnessing, and that is, everybody doesn't receive the message gladly; everybody doesn't receive the message openly. That is the reason it is so important to be led of the Holy Spirit of God in the witnessing that you do, and it is the reason that you need to be prepared for the fact that everybody is not going to be as glad about the message as you. Sometimes when you give out the message, when you extend the invitation, it will be met with abuse—quite often physical abuse—for some individuals who have been faithful in giving forth the message of the Word of God have been physically abused for their faithfulness in adhering to the truth.

I suppose nearly all of us, if not all of us, have been met with the sneering that accompanies any proclamation of the truth which people are not ready to receive. The reason that it is so important for you to realize this today is that sometimes individuals who feel they are led of the Lord in their witnessing for Him are met with the abuse and immediately decide they should not be witnessing, else the witness would be gladly received. They are met with sneering, and they wonder if it is worth the price. Timidity often causes them to refrain from giving out the message because they don't want to be sneered at.

According to the paragraph which we have read, there is the danger of putting yourself in wrong with the person to whom you witness. How many of you have had the experience of enjoying a friendship until you brought up something about Christ, enjoying a relationship until you brought up something about God, and you got in wrong because folk who were glad to have your company without Christ were not glad to have it with Him. Sometimes you are put in a position where you have to decide between your associations and Christ. For that reason some people refrain from witnessing, hoping that somehow they can maintain the relationship and the individuals involved will not find out that they even know the Lord. Some have even experienced bitter hate because they dared to present the truth.

Keep in mind that we are talking about wisdom, which we have suggested to you is doctrine. We are not thinking only about soul-winning; we are thinking about the presentation of the truth. Even the presentation of truth to Christians is not always well received if the doctrine that is being presented makes them uncomfortable. They want to be left alone. However, notice in verse 8:

Proverbs 9:

8 …rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.

A man who is acquainted with wisdom, when you point out the errors of his ways based upon the Word of God, will love you for it. You will discover quite often that some of the deepest relationships that you have are the relationships that have come because you dared to declare the whole counsel of God to the individuals concerned.

The last thing that can be brought to your attention is that individuals who are approached by you quite often will bring you a great deal of joy as you see the growth in their lives because of what you presented to them. Notice verse 9:

Proverbs 9:

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Secret of the Differences in Responses

I wonder what the difference is? Surely the responses that we have been talking about are not different responses necessarily because of the way that the message has been presented, although that sometimes must be considered. Certainly, it is not always because of the difference in personalities. What I am asking is, “What is the secret for the difference in response to the message?” Once you have learned this, you might save yourself a lot of grief, a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration. What is the secret? Why is it that some men will receive the message gladly and others will hate you for it? Look at verse 10:

Proverbs 9:

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

This is exactly what the Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Corinthians, but in different words, when he suggested that the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God because they are a mystery to him. They are spiritually discerned. Only the individual who has come into the right relationship with God, indicated by this Old Testament phrase, the fear of the Lord , is able to understand. Right relationship to God is basic to a correct understanding of doctrine.

Responsibility Lies Upon Every Person

This would seem to excuse people who are not in right relationship. It would seem to indicate that if folk are not right with God, they don't understand, so they are not to be blamed. But before the Spirit of God is through with this summation, He draws to our attention the responsibility that lies upon every person. Look at verse 12, please:

Proverbs 9:

12 If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself…

Another way of saying that is, “It is to your advantage to learn doctrine. It is to your advantage to grasp wisdom. It is to your advantage to find out everything you can in relation to the Word of God.” In the front of the sanctuary, on the outside. we have a verse that we pray attracts the attention of men: “Search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Me.”

What is the purpose of Bible study? So that you can go away bragging about how much you know, and how little other people know? Well, if that is all that is accomplished, we have failed in our purpose. You will never know God; you will never know Christ, unless you know His Word. “If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself,” but look at the last part of that verse:

Proverbs 9:

12 …but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.

That puts the responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of the individual. The Bible teaches that men should not readily seek the responsibility of teaching the Word of God. The Bible discourages men taking that responsibility lightly because it is a tremendous responsibility, and teachers are held accountable for not discharging the responsibility which is theirs. But even after you say that, you have to come back to the basic fact that the man who scorns the teaching of the Word must bear the responsibility, which makes you responsible not only for what you hear, but it makes you responsible to hear it. It is your responsibility alone.


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