Thursday, January 10, 2013

Proverbs 9: Two Feasts

Wisdom's feast is set. She has already done it all: slaughtered her beasts, mixed her wine, and set her table. All is prepared and waiting; this is Wisdom's feast, not to be confused with other feasts that are set before men and women. Great care has been taken. Now she has sent out her young women (not to be confused with other young women) to call out from the highest places in town, "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" To him who lacks sense she entreats, "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight."

On the same highest places in the same town, a woman named Folly has taken her seat. She also has spread a table. She also is calling out to those who pass by (and her voice is loud, and she is seductive), "Whoever is simple, let him turn aside here!" To him who lacks sense she purrs, "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant!"

The simpleton-- the one passing by, the one just going along straight on his way, hears the two voices entreating him to turn in. One offers bread and wine, life and insight. But to have it, she says, he must leave his ways (ways that he is very attached to, actually...). The other, loud voice offers him, if he will just turn aside from his straight way to see, something a little more enticing, a bit more exciting: Stolen water. Bread eaten in secret. Something is alluring about that. Something compels the simple man to turn in here, to know what this woman is offering: to taste, and to see.

Poor simple man. He didn't understand one very important thing before he turned aside to Folly's feast, and it was this: only the dead are there. Her guests are all in the depths of Sheol (the grave, or Hell). It is a ghastly feast; there were no slaughtered beasts, no mixed wine or even beautifully set table, at all. All on her table was death and corruption, and he found out too late that there was also no escape. Pity this man. He only wanted satisfaction for his desires and his senses-- he only wanted what seemed most natural to him to want. And he got it.

And Wisdom grieves for him, and sends out her young women to the highest places in the town again the next day, and the next, to proclaim her compelling message of life and of escape from death, sin, and folly. She will keep on sending them until there is no more Today, because she knows that a simple young man, here and there, will hear the voice of Wisdom and believe the invitation is true, and see that Life! Life! is only to be found at Her table; and he will turn in, and he will have escaped the grave and Hell forever. And oh, what a feast there will be.

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