When I was growing up, the preacher in our small-town church used to quote this line from a poem by Robert Frost often,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one least traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
I wonder if Frost had read Solomon. For centuries before his poem, the Israelite King presented a similar picture. He confronts us with a choice—not of two roads, but of two houses on either side of the road. He paints a picture of stark contrasts.
On one side of the road, there is a beautiful, luxurious home, standing tall and strong with seven pillars dominating its face. Standing in the door is its builder, the elegant lady named Wisdom. She has prepared a feast for us to enjoy—roast beast and fine wine mixed with savory spices. And she has a host of maidens inviting us in to a home filled with warmth, insight, and life. (Proverbs 9:1-6)
On the other side of the road, a simple, plain, windowless home that is on the edge of the sketchy part of town. In its doorway is the shady-looking, smooth-talking seductress, Woman Folly. She offers no feast—only simple bread and water will be found here. She promises pleasures, but sucks people in to a home filled with coldness, foolishness, and death. (Proverbs 9:13-18)
And both sides are calling, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” (Proverbs 9:4,16)
It’s decision time for the simple.
And just who are the simple? Well, friend, that’s you and me. Here’s how Ray Ortlund puts it:
Anyone can join the party: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” Remember that “the simple” is the beginner who lacks commitment. But Christ [the Wise] is so humble to welcome us in, just as we are. Here is a simple gospel mantra always to keep in mind: “One, I am a complete idiot. Two, my future is incredibly bright. Three, anyone can get in on this.” All we have to do is turn to him: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” That is repentance. Gospel repentance is more than turning away from sin. Gospel repentance is, first and foremost, turning toward [wisdom, namely,] Jesus Christ. How can you and I ever turn completely from our sins anyway. As the old hymn says, “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” Christ is inviting us to come now and receive his very best: “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed” (Proverbs 9:5).
Ah, that’s what the sacrament of the table shows us, doesn’t it? We regularly observe the sacrament of communion as a symbol of the feast that awaits us in the new heavens and the new earth. The cross is foolishness to men, but to us, it is the wisdom of God.
So, it’s decision time.
In one sense, it’s a one-time decision. Which house will we choose? Lady Wisdom or Woman Folly? Life or Death?
In another sense, I think we know that we keep running back and forth between these two houses all the time. Because we are human. Because we are sinners, and we can “never completely turn from our sins anyway” in this age. But praise God, in Jesus, forgiveness can always be found! We are always welcome in the house of seven pillars when we have been marked and covered by the blood of the Wise One.
It’s decision time again today. Give us eyes to see and spiritual senses to taste that all you offer is what is truly good. Help us to choose you. Again and again. And when we fail, remind us that you always receive us and are quick to forgive your repentant children. We love you Father.
Yes, and very amen, in Jesus’ name.
Pursuing the wise and good life with you,
Proverbs Thirty-One Day Reading Plan
August 14: Proverbs ch. 1
Aug. 15: ch. 2
Aug. 16: ch. 3
Aug. 17: ch. 4
Aug. 18: ch. 5
Aug. 19: Grace Day
Aug. 20: ch. 6
Aug. 21: ch. 7
Aug. 22: ch. 8
Aug. 23: ch. 9
Aug. 24: ch. 10
Aug. 25: ch. 11
Aug. 26: Grace Day
Aug. 27: ch. 12
Aug. 28: ch. 13
Aug. 29: ch. 14
Aug. 30: ch. 15
Aug. 31: ch. 16
Sept. 1: ch. 17
Sept. 2: Grace Day
Sept. 3: ch. 18
Sept. 4: ch. 19
Sept. 5: ch. 20
Sept. 6: ch. 21
Sept. 7: ch. 22
Sept. 8: ch. 23
Sept. 9: Grace Day
Sept. 10: ch. 24
Sept. 11: ch. 25
Sept. 12: ch. 26
Sept. 13: ch. 27
Sept. 14: ch. 28
Sept. 15: ch. 29
Sept. 16: Grace Day
Sept. 17: ch. 30
Sept. 18: ch. 31
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.