August 19, 2018
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
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.”
Sneewittchen, is a German fairy tale first published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. The basic plot involves a king who lost his first wife just after she bore him their first child, a little girl. The king married again, but the new queen was a vain, wicked woman. As time passed, the king’s daughter grew more and more beautiful until the wicked queen’s magic mirror no longer told her she was the most beautiful woman in all the kingdom, but the princess. Consumed by her jealously, the queen hatched a plan to have the princess killed, but she escaped. Years later, the queen found out that the princess was alive and attempted to kill her three times, the third time succeeding in putting the princess into a state of suspended animation. Finally, the princess is rescued by a prince and the evil queen is put to death. Of course, the original name of this German fairy tale, Sneewittchen, is translated as “Snow White,” in English. Two lessons to be taken from his cautionary tale are the dangers of vanity, on the part of the queen, and of inexperience, on the part of Snow White. Each of these characters would have avoided a great deal of trouble in their lives if they knew what in meant to live in the house of Wisdom.
Many tales have been written over the years to give people wisdom for their lives, but the book of Proverbs is the greatest collection of wise sayings in the world as they were written by King Solomon, who
“was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth,”
according to 1 Kings 10:23. The portion of Scripture for our consideration today comes from Proverbs 9, in which Wisdom and Folly are personified as two women. Each woman is pictured at her home calling out to all those passing by,
“Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says.”
Each woman calling, from their respective homes, recognizes those passing by as ‘simple’ or ‘those who have no sense,’ but this is where the similarities end because Wisdom and Folly say two very different things to those passing by.
First, Folly calls out to those passing by with two oxymorons. Again, those passing by are simple, but we wonder how anyone could fall for her tricks. The two phrases Folly uses to lure in passersby are,
17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!”
Folly hopes those passing by come in after hearing the words sweet and delicious, forgetting the words stolen and secret. It seems that Folly lacks the sense to be able to make or work for her own food, so she must steal it. She then lures in those passing by to indulge in her stolen and short-lived wealth. The dangers of Folly’s lies are revealed in Proverbs 9:18,
18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.
The problem with Folly is that she makes promises that aren’t true. Folly says that stolen water is sweet, when really it is sour because it leads to a life of crime and punishment when caught. Also, when Folly says that food eaten in secret is delicious, it is not because food that is delicious ought to be shared and enjoyed with others, not hidden away. It’s a wonder that Folly’s house still attracts guests, but her house remains full because the people are simple and have no sense. Another way to say it, is that Folly’s house is full of mockers and the wicked. Proverbs 9:7-8 say,
7 “Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse.”
Folly’s home is full because the people in it do not listen when they are told they are doing something wrong, in fact they insult, abuse and hate those who try to tell them the good news about Wisdom. This makes all those in Folly’s house, the unbelievers, who reject God and remain caught in their sins, unable to escape God’s punishment.
Since, Folly’s house is full of unbelievers, Wisdom’s house is the home of believers. It is the home of those whom God has called to faith and trust in Jesus as their Savior. Those called into the home of Wisdom were the same as those in the home of Folly, as Romans 5:12 says,
“sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people.”
We were the simple and senseless, but God brought us into his house. We are safe with God in the house of Wisdom, unless we leave his house. As believers, we can fall back into the trap of Folly when we reject hearing the Word of God. Time away from the Word puts us back in the street in danger of losing our faith and reverting back into the defenseless, simple and senseless people destined for Folly and death.
God has freed us, but without consistent meals from the Word of God, we are left eating the stolen, sinful slop of the world that satisfies for a second and starves your soul forever.
Wisdom and Folly both call out to the same people, but Wisdom’s call is to give life. When Wisdom’s call goes out to all the people, she says,
5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed.
Immediately, we notice how different the call of Wisdom is from Folly. Where Folly stole water and ate food in secret, Wisdom prepared all the food she serves her guests. The food she serves isn’t a mystery, but it is good food. And her house is a place where the simple and senseless are fed in body and soul. Instead of a place, where the dead live like with Folly, Wisdom invites all into her home saying,
6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.”
The difference between the homes of Wisdom and Folly are like the difference between a morgue and Luby’s, the restaurant over by Costco. A morgue is a place where people are placed when they are dead. A morgue has nothing to keep you alive and certainly nothing to eat, unless you find an old bologna sandwich in the break room refrigerator. On the other hand, there is Luby’s, one of the greatest buffet restaurants I’ve ever been to. Luby’s has a huge variety of freshly slice meats, sides, salads, drinks and desserts. If you’ve ever been to Luby’s, you know it is the place to go in Rockwall when you are looking for a smorgasbord, just like as believers, you know God’s Word will fill you up with the Bread of Life, your Savior, Jesus.
When you are filled up with the Word of God, you act completely different than those living with Folly. Those who do not believe insult, abuse and hate hearing the Word of God. They don’t want to hear about sin and death. They want to indulge in whatever feels right to them now, without considering the future or what their Creator has to say about it. Those who live with wisdom are far different. The rest of Proverbs 9:8-9 reads,
“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.”
As believers, we are not so foolish as to believe we no longer need to hear the Word of God. Avoiding God’s Word is as foolish as avoiding food! And there are times when God’s Word will leave a sour taste in our mouths, but every time it shows us our sin, fills us with guilt or threatens punishment, we know that all is not lost because Jesus has taken away our sin.
Jesus called each of you to believe in him as the one who prepared the way for you to enter eternal life.
Just like Wisdom built her house and prepared her own food, Jesus has also built a place for you to live and he will give you what you need to live in it forever. In John 6:51, Jesus says,
51 “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
Jesus came into this world with a real body and suffered for our many follies. He came into this world and prepared the way for you and I to enter heaven. Jesus’ promise to give you eternal life is not empty or stolen, but it was earned by the Son of God himself. Jesus’ promises that he is the bread from heaven and the one who gives eternal life, stand true. Jesus’ words are a house that will never fall down, whose foundation will never crumble and whose cupboards will always be filled with what you need.
The old German fairy tale Sneewittchen, or Snow White, reveals what happens when people lack wisdom. The vain queen lacked wisdom and by pursuing her jealousy of Snow White, she eventually was punished with death. Snow White was a young fool, too trusting of what appeared to be good on the outside, but on the inside was rotten and almost caused her death. The Apostle Paul, gives us much better wisdom than the Brothers Grimm could ever come up with in chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians,
15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil…be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You are no longer a senseless wandering unbeliever eating the stolen sinful, slop of the world that satisfies for a second and starves your soul forever. You have been called by the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God to believe in Jesus who prepared the way for you to enter eternal life. Hunger to fill up on the Word of God every day, live in the house of Wisdom and be filled with hope in your Savior, Jesus. Amen.