Whoever is naive, let him turn in here, and to him who lacks understanding she says, Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
It was a sticky Florida night and I sat alone in a group of ten other camp staffers. The room was hot, I was hungry, and we had been sitting in the same position for more than an hour. Talking was not permitted; if you spoke, you were as good as dead. It had been a meticulous and stressful process but we were down to the last two suspects. One claimed to be an undercover detective while the other insisted he was an innocent bystander caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. I suppose no one could have known for sure, but in the end we accused the detective of being a liar. You can imagine our surprise and disappointment when were later informed that the innocent bystander had gotten away with murder.
If only every night were a game like this one. They are not though, and the stakes are much higher. In the midst of a life filled with uncertainties, one cannot risk the dangers of a foolish mentality. Proverbs describes a woman of folly, seated outside her house, boisterously calling out to those who pass by. (9:13-15). Like the innocent bystander on that Friday night, the woman of folly puts on an appearance of innocence with the intent to destroy. Wisdom personified calls from the tops of the heights of the city (9:3), the woman of folly sits on a seat by the high places of the city, calling to those who pass by (9:14, 15). Wisdom calls out, Whoever is naive, let him turn in here (9:4); folly echoes wisdom’s every word (9:16).
To the untrained ear and those who lack discipline, a great difficulty will be found in any attempt to make the distinction. A difference is discovered not in their appearance or beckoning, but only in their message and consequential outcome. The lady of wisdom offers food and drink of her own (9:5), while the woman of folly proclaims, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant” (9:17). To those who lust after the deception of folly, they will find company with the dead in the depths of Sheol (9:18). To the one who forsakes folly and pursues wisdom, life and understanding will be their reward (9:6).
II Corinthians 11:14 teaches us that, “even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” It is for this reason that we must resist the urge to accept every word we hear from television, friends, parents, and even ministers of the word. It is for this reason that we must constantly measure everything we hear against the word of God. Only by doing this will we escape the deception of murderers who claim to be innocent bystanders, the woman of folly posed as the lady of wisdom, and even Satan disguised as an angel of light!