Our reading today begins with another warning by Solomon against being seduced by the adulteress. This is speaking of sin in general, of course. In 7:1-4, Solomon’s plea is to heed his wisdom (to fear the Lord and obey His Word) because these are what keeps us from being seduced by sin. Fear of God and obedience “keeps us from the forbidden woman” (sin) and from her “smooth words” (enticement to sin) (v. 5 – see 2:1-16).
Solomon then speaks from his experience. He has seen many fall into the trap (and has himself). The simple (fools) and the young (inexperienced and unwilling to listen to wisdom) fall prey (v. 7). They make provision for their sin (vv. 8-9). And if we make provision for sin, sin will find us (v. 10, 15). Sin comes looking for us (v .11), and can be found anywhere (v. 12). Sin seduces us aggressively, and can even make us believe it isn’t sinful (vv. 13-14). So sin entices us with the empty promise of pleasure (vv. 16-18 – here Solomon uses sexual pleasure as a metaphor for the fleeting pleasures of sin). Sin also falsely promises us we won’t be caught in it (vv. 19-20). Remember, no sin is secret from God (5:21).
Sin entices persistently (v. 21). In verse 22, we are told that “all at once” the sinner follows the adulterous woman. The Hebrew word literally means “abruptly” or “suddenly.” What Solomon is saying is that we never “kinda” sin. We don’t stick our toe in the waters of sin and wait to see if the temperature is right. We dive right in. But note what sin really is. It is what the slaughter is to an ox (v. 22). It is the trap that holds us until death finds us (vv. 22-23). It is what we eagerly run to without realizing it leads to death (v. 23). The chapter ends with Solomon summarizing what he has said. Take heed to his wise words (v. 24) and avoid enticements to sin (v. 25), because he has seen what sin does (v. 26). The sinner’s ends is sure (v. 27).
Chapter 8 extols the virtues of wisdom instead of warning against the foolishness of sin. Like those who repent and place their faith in Christ, so too with wisdom: what we receive is the greater gift than what we are spared from. In 8:2-3, wisdom is to be had anywhere and everywhere (just like sin – see 7:12). And like sin, if wisdom is sought, it will be found (v. 17). Wisdom’s call is universal (v. 4). It is a call for the fool to repent of his ways and get on the right path (v. 5). Wisdom is found in truth (vv. 6-7) and righteousness (v. 8), and is understood by the righteous (v. 9). Nothing this world offers is as valuable as wisdom (vv. 10-11).
In verse 12, we are told wisdom dwells with prudence (see v. 5 and 1:4). It is listed with knowledge and discretion (as in 1:4). Together, prudence, knowledge, and discretion speak of righteous discernment (see Matt 10:16). In verse 13, we see that the fear of the Lord is further defined. It is hating evil. And then evil is further defined. It is pride and arrogance. So: fear of the Lord leads to humility, and humility leads to righteous discernment. By this kind if discernment, just rulers rule (vv. 15-16). The promise in v. 18 is akin to that in 3:9-10. The inheritance in verse 21 is a spiritual inheritance.
In verses 22-31, wisdom is said to be the foundation for all of God’s creation. This is a commentary as much on the creation as it is on wisdom. Creation reveals the wisdom of God. Note that wisdom rejoices in God’s creation (vv. 30-31) and delighted in the very good pre-Fall condition of man (v. 31). In verses 32-34 we see that the spiritual inheritance of verse 21 includes blessing. In verse 35, we see the inheritance includes life and favor from God. To love wisdom is to love life (v. 36 – see vv. 17-21).
In chapter 9, we have an invitation from both wisdom (9:4-6) and from folly (vv. 16-18). The “seven pillars” of wisdom speaks of the perfect and unbreakable foundation of wisdom (v. 1). In wisdom is found provision (v. 2). Folly speaks louder and is often enticing (v. 13). It calls distractingly even to those on the straight path (vv. 14-15). Both wisdom and folly call “from the highest places in town” (v. 3, 14). In other words, both are calling, and both are available to all. Make your choice.
Wisdom and folly both call to the simple (those who need wisdom, so everyone) to turn towards them (v. 4, 16). Wisdom offers her provision (v. 5 – see v. 2), whereas folly offers stolen provision (v. 17 – that greed and covetousness Solomon has already covered – see 1:11-14). In verse 6, wisdom calls for repentance unto life; for us to get on the straight and narrow path that leads to life. But folly leads us to death, though we don’t know it (v. 18 – see 2:18-19).
Between these competing invitations, Solomon advises us to choose wisdom. Verses 7-8 speak of the company we keep. Wisdom is not welcome among the foolish.1 Among the wise, wisdom leads to wisdom (v. 9 – see 27:17). The fear of the Lord is paralleled with knowledge of God (v. 10). Seeking wisdom is seeking God. Verse 12 speaks of wisdom bringing benefits to the wise (you are “wise for yourself” means “for your own sake”). But scoffers (often used to describe the fool) have only their scoffing (foolishness).
Now we just need to make our choice…
1 Verse 6 can be translated “leave behind the simple and live.” Verses 7-12 may be an exposition of that wise advice.