Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
If the Wisdom spoken of by Solomon be none other than Christ, the house of Wisdom must be the spiritual house which Christ builds—His Church. This house is described as being strong and stable. Wisdom hath hewn out her seven pillars. Seven is the number constantly used in the Bible to typify perfection or completeness: and the meaning is, that the building rests on so many and such strong pillars that, once erected, it will never fall.
I. The first pillar is that of Faith, which rests the most directly upon the foundation of all—that Rock which is Christ.
II. The second pillar is that of Hope. Despair is a deadly element in the spiritual house. There is no greater traitor in our camp than he who cries, "All is lost."
III. The pillar of Love binds the whole building together, "the very bond of peace and of all virtues." If faith be the foundation-stone on which the building rests, and hope the soaring tower which points to heaven, love is the porch by which all must enter, and without which they are intruders, who have climbed up some other way.
IV. There is the pillar of Discretion: the spirit which knows what to say and what not to say, what to do and what to leave undone. We are often discredited with the world because we lack this pillar in our building.
V. There is the pillar of Sacrifice. There is no room for drones in the hive, no place in the house for those who have not helped to build it, or are not helping to make it serve the purpose for which it was built.
VI. There is the pillar of Truthfulness. As a matter of eventual success, no less than of Christian duty, we must renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
VII. The last pillar is that of Memory. Not only is the Church built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, we are surrounded also by a great cloud of witnesses, of all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues—a multitude which no man can number, who form the unbroken line of our spiritual ancestry. We must not cut ourselves off from these. The memories of the past belong to the Church, as much as the hopes of the future.
A. Blomfield, Sermons in Town and Country, p. 260.
References: Proverbs 9:1-5.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xxii., p. 80; C. Kingsley, Discipline and other Sermons, p. 11; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 70.
Proverbs 9:1-6The marriage supper for the king's son.
I. The house. The frame is set up from everlasting, well-ordered in all things, and sure. The tried Foundation is the Lord our Righteousness. The seven pillars indicate, in Oriental form, that its supports and ornaments are perfect in strength and beauty.
II. The feast prepared. The provisions of God's house are wholesome, various, plentiful. Whatever the covenant provides, the true Church diligently sets forth in the ordinances before the people.
III. The inviting messenger. These are the ambassadors whom Christ employs to carry the message of His mercy to their brethren.
IV. The invited guests. The message is specially addressed to the simple. Those who are conscious of ignorance are ever most ready to learn the wisdom from above.
V. The argument by which the invitation is supported is: (1) positive, "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine which I have mingled;" and (2) negative, "Forsake the foolish and live." The grand turning-point is to get the prodigal to break off from that which destroys him.
W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 209.
Reference: Proverbs 9:1-18.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 207.
Proverbs 9:3-4, Proverbs 9:16I. Choose. Here is the manliness of manhood, that a man has a reason for what he does, and has a will in doing it. Be the masters and lords of the circumstances in which you stand. Put your heel on temptations if they come to you. Remember there is the alternative, the one thing or the other, and it becomes you to make up your mind, to resolve, to know why you have done so, and to act because and as you have resolved.
II. Choose wisdom. There are the two claimants that are standing wooing your affections: Wisdom, on the one side; and this "foolish woman," the embodiment and impersonation of Folly, on the other. (1) At first sight, on a cursory reading of the earlier chapters of this Book of Proverbs, it may seem as if all that was meant by wisdom was a shrewd earthly common-sense and worldly prudence; while folly, on the other hand, may seem to be mere ignorance and want of understanding. But look a little closer, and you will see that the wisdom spoken of in all these chapters is closely connected, not only with clearness of the well-furnished head, but with uprightness of the heart. (a) The wisdom that he speaks about is wisdom that has rectitude for an essential part of it, the fibre of its very being a righteousness and holiness. If a man would be wise it must be with a wisdom that was in God before it is in him. (b) The true wisdom is no mere quality, but a living person; her voice is the voice of Christ, our Brother, our Sacrifice, and our Lord. (2) Mark the manner of these appeals and the consequences of listening to them. The wisdom of our text appeals to conscience. Folly appeals only to the sense of pleasure and desire of gratification. Severe and pure though the beauty of wisdom is, yet "her ways are ways of pleasantness, and her paths are peace." "All the things thou canst desire" are not to be compared with what she has to bestow.
III. Choose Christ now. There is no more dark remembrance to a Christian man than the early days when he put off decision. Every day that you live makes it less likely that you will choose. Every day that you live makes it harder for you to choose aright. Every day adds to the heap of wasted hours that you will carry regretfully with you to your graves, if ever you give the trust of your spirits, the love of your hearts, the obedience of your lives to Christ Jesus at all.
A. Maclaren, Sermons Preached in Manchester, p. 304.
References: Proverbs 9:5.—J. E. Vaux, Sermon Notes, 3rd series, p. 48. Proverbs 9:7.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 183. Proverbs 9:7-9.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 213.
Proverbs 9:10I. Nothing can prosper long that runs its head against any of the great walls of the universe. Life is known by its manifestations; no one has ever seen it. And no one ever sees the invisible barriers that close like a prison round the living, whenever they violate the laws of life. There arc unseen, pitiless limits existing—walls of adamant, against which the waves of human passion and human folly dash, and break, and are shattered without mercy, even though every drop be a life, and every life be dashed to pieces in hopeless agony in the vain endeavour to go its own way, and set its own will as the judge what that way shall be. There is an eternal march of judgment, which they who choose can see. And calm, and clear, and pitiless on every side, amidst the noise of ignorant self-will, the clash of blinded passion, and wisdom blinder still, the voiceless warning strikes upon the world; and the great prison walls close in on those who will have it so.
II. It may be said: "These are but words; what proof is there of this invisible, everlasting wall of doom, and of the unseen executioners, God's secret police, that arrest the guilty and the careless, self-indulgent fools?" I answer: "Take any form of vice you like, give it power, give it wealth, and then—wait a few years and see what comes of it. Watch the curse day by day, and hour by hour, walking by the victim's side; watch him dragged from bad to worse; stand in his dreary home when the last scene comes,—and doubt no more of God's great prison walls on earth."
III. But it is equally true that the great laws of life act for good to those who follow them. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." God has not only set His prison walls that punish, and appointed His secret police of vengeance that avenge; but He has also set within the broad space of the world the protecting walls of the fold of Christ, the happy home of those who follow Him, where His sheep go in and out, and find pasture.
E. Thring, Uppingham Sermons, vol. ii., p. 358.
References: Proverbs 9:10.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. ix., p. 156. Proverbs 9:12.—W. Arnot, Laws from Heaven, 1st series, p. 219. Proverbs 9:13-18.—Ibid., p. 221. Proverbs 10:1.—Ibid., p. 229. Proverbs 10:4.—Ibid., p. 234. Proverbs 10:1-5.—R. Wardlaw, Lectures on Proverbs, vol. i., p. 219.
She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table.
She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot.
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased.
If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
A foolish woman is clamorous: she is simple, and knoweth nothing.
For she sitteth at the door of her house, on a seat in the high places of the city,
To call passengers who go right on their ways:
Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him,
Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.
But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.