The Table Is Set

Proverbs 9:1-18
July 1, 2018
Abraham Hong

 

In life, we are asked many questions. And perhaps the most asked question of all time, and for some people perhaps the most important question of all time, is this:

Where do you want to go to eat?

This question is profound. For some people, the question triggers a mouth watering reaction. “Where do you want to go to eat?” “I want tacos.” For other people, the question paralyzes them. “Where do you want to go to eat?” “Um, I don’t know. I have no preference. I’m okay with tacos. But let me see what’s on Yelp.” For some people, the question creates tension and drama. “So a bunch of us want to try that new pizza place in town.” “Well, the girls want tacos, so… yeah.” For other people, the question becomes a matter of life or death. “I am literally starving to death. I didn’t eat lunch today. I am going to eat twenty tacos tonight.” And finally, there are those for whom the question is irrelevant. They don’t mind standing in the parking lot for twenty minutes and having a good time. And when it is finally time to order at the taco place, some of them will not even get a taco. They will just get a drink - and then steal a taco from the guy who ordered twenty.

In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, a father speaks to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And here in the ninth chapter, here in the end of the book’s opening prologue, the father essentially asks his son, “Where do you want to go to eat?”

This is profound. For eight amazing chapters, the father taught and challenged and warned and loved his son. The father spoke to him about wisdom and foolishness. The father introduced him to Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. But here at the end of the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, the father puts before his son two choices. Two women, two homes, two invitations, two endings. And the son is left with the question: “Where do you want to go to eat?”

The son should definitely go eat at Lady Wisdom’s place. Here are the reasons why. First, Lady Wisdom is a baller. She actually built her house! But that shouldn’t surprise us. Remember chapter eight? Wisdom was there in creation, like a master workman. So her place is amazing. Second, Lady Wisdom is a classy hostess with world class hospitality. She has prepared a banquet! She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has set her table. She is doing it all. She is doing it all in the style and the skill and the industry and the excellence of Proverbs 31. Third, Lady Wisdom is generous. She has hewn her seven pillars! This means that she’s got something like a courtyard attached to her place. And this means that her courtyard is huge. It’s grand, it’s magnificent, it’s perfect. She is ready for a lot of people at her place. Fourth, Lady Wisdom is going all out. She’s upgraded her wine by adding special herbs or honey to make it all the more potent and enjoyable. She has sent out her young women to the very highest places in the town. It’s nothing but the best for her. Fifth and finally, and most importantly, Lady Wisdom will bring you life. Her bread is a life-giving bread. Her cup is a life-giving cup. It’s amazing.

All in all, there is activity and nobility and excellence and glory and joy and righteousness and life at Lady Wisdom’s banquet. If Lady Wisdom’s place was on Yelp, it should be rated at seven stars. And the son should go eat there.

The son should definitely go eat at Lady Wisdom’s place, and definitely not at Lady Folly’s. Here are the reasons why. First, Lady Folly is not a baller. Yes, she’s got a house. But she didn’t build it herself. Her place is not that great. And she knows nothing. She doesn’t know what to do, so she just copies Lady Wisdom. She tries to do what Lady Wisdom does and she tries to say what Lady Wisdom says, but it’s all pretty weak. Second, Lady Folly has no class and no hospitality. She is loud. She knows that she cannot compete with Lady Wisdom, so the best she can do is drown out Lady Wisdom’s call with empty noise. And she is always sitting, trying to look like someone important and substantial instead of actually being someone important and substantial. It’s all just a show. She has not slaugthered any beasts. She has not mixed any wine. She has not set any table. She has not built anything. She has zero pillars. She has no discipline or industry. And she can afford to take time and be at the highest places of the town because she hasn’t prepared anything! There is no banquet. Third, Lady Folly is a liar. She is seductive. She’s not inviting you for your sake or for your good. She’s out to trick you and scam you. Fourth, Lady Folly just doesn’t care. She’s not serving upgraded wine or even just wine. She’s not even serving water. She’s serving stolen water. And there’s something off about her bread. Why does her bread have to be eaten in secret? Is her bread stolen too? Wait, did she steal from Lady Wisdom? She just doesn’t care. Fifth and finally, and most importantly, Lady Folly will bring you death. This is crazy. If you open her door and go into her place, you will not find a banquet at all. Instead, you will find rotting corpses and dry bones. It’s a haunted house. And the dead are there. Her guests are in the depths of Sheol. It’s amazing.

All in all, there is ignorance and seduction and laziness and plagarism and emptiness and sin and death at Lady Folly’s “banquet.” If Lady Folly’s place was on Yelp, it should be rated at zero stars. And the son should not go eat there.

So there you have it. The drama of the book of Proverbs. Two women, two homes, two meals, two invitations, two endings. The father speaks to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And the son is left with the question: “Where do you want to go to eat?”

Many centuries after the book of Proverbs was written, a descendant of the royal line of the long forgotten throne of Israel was born. He was qualified to be the ultimate Son that the book of Proverbs was written to. He was qualified to be the ultimate Son that the book of Proverbs had hoped for.

As the Son of Proverbs, he was, so to speak, left with the question: “Where do you want to go to eat?” This question was posed to him every single day of his life. And this question was pressed most powerfully upon him when he was tested in the wilderness and tempted by the Devil. He was given two invitations, two endings. But he chose well. The Son of Proverbs he never sinned. He was perfectly obedient to the law. His righteousness was spotless. His wisdom was without end.

But he was not just the Son of Proverbs. He was the Son of God. As such, he is wisdom. And he has invited us to his banquet of salvation.

He builds his house. And he says, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). His place, the new heavens and the new earth, is going to be more awesome than any seven pillar place you have ever seen.

He has set his table. And he says, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). His food is better than any meat and his drink is better than the best of upgraded wine. For his food is his body and his drink is his blood.

He was hated by the scoffers who mocked him and did not fear the Lord. A lot of people rejected Jesus’ invitation and call to repentance and faith: the Pharisees and the scribes and the chief priests and the lawyers.

But he was loved by the simple who turned to him and feared the Lord. A lot of people accepted Jesus’ invitation and call to repentance and faith: Zacchaeus, the woman with the alabaster jaw, the thief on the cross, Paul.

He has given us his Holy Word and he has sent his Holy Spirit. And he uses sinful ordinary men to declare the gospel and call sinners from the highest places in the town. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” (Isaiah 52:7; Romans 10:15).

He builds his house. He has set his table. And one day, he will sit before you at his banqueting table. Because he invited you. Because he saved you. Because he loved you.

This Son of Proverbs, this Son of God, was and is and always will be our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you would sincerely desire the wisdom of God and grow in the fear of the Lord as we wait for him. We started this series on the book of Proverbs on January 7. Chapters 1-9 make up the prologue or introduction to the book. Chapters 10-31 make up the proverbs themselves. And the end of chapter 31 is the finale. As we conclude this series on the book of Proverbs on July 1, we have a long journey ahead of us - a journey of God’s wisdom and the fear of the Lord. But remember that Christ himself took this long journey already - a journey of obedience and righteousness as the ultimate Son of Proverbs. And now we who are in him follow after him. Let us be wise.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you would sincerely heed the warning of rejecting the wisdom of God. God graciously invites the simple, but he does not invite the scoffer. The simple and the foolish who turn to God receive well his wisdom because they are humble and teachable and because they want to be wiser. But the scoffer and the wicked person who do not turn to God do not receive well his wisdom because they are arrogant and unteachable and because they think they are already wise themselves. It is good to be the first. It is not good to be the second. Let us consider how we receive and how we react to the wisdom of God. Let us love and welcome and even ask for correction and truth and reproof and counsel. And let us submit to the Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our King.

Brothers and sisters, I pray that you would sincerely look forward to Jesus and to his place, to his banquet, to his table, to his love. Everyone is looking for a banquet to attend. And there are many banquets out there. But you’ve already got a seat at Jesus’ place. And his is the best. As we wait on this old and fading earth for the return of our king, we are tempted and tried by the all important question: “Where do you want to go to eat?” What a profound question. For some people, the question is irrelevant. For others, the question paralyzes them. For some people, the question created tension and drama. For other people, the question becomes a matter of life or death. But brothers and sisters, may we smile at that question. Because we have Christ, who is wisdom. Because we have a garland for our heads. Because we have the land of the living. Because we are Jesus’ plus-one. Because we know that the table is set.

End


Summary of Sermon

In the opening chapters of the book of Proverbs, a father speaks to his son about how to be a good and wise king for Israel. And here in the ninth chapter, at the end of the book’s opening prologue, the father essentially asks his son, “Where do you want to go to eat?”

The son should definitely go eat at Lady Wisdom’s place. Lady Wisdom has built her house. She has prepared a banquet with hospitality and generosity and class. She is going all out. Her banquet brings life.

The son should definitely not go eat at Lady Folly's place. Lady Folly has counterfeited Lady Wisdom’s invitation. She is loud, ignorant and classless. She is a seductive liar. Her banquet brings death.

As the ultimate Son of Proverbs, Jesus Christ chose the right banquet. He never sinned. He had perfect righteousness and wisdom.

As the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ invites us to his banquet of salvation. He has built his house. He has set his table. Scoffers hate him and reject his invitation. But the simple who repent and believe in him love him and accept his invitation.

Let us desire the wisdom of God and grow in the fear of the Lord. Let us be warned against rejecting such wisdom. And let us look forward to Christ and to his banqueting table.

Questions for Discussion & Sharing

In what ways is the banquet of the personification of wisdom (Lady Wisdom) appealing to you?

In what ways is the banquet of the personification of foolishness (Lady Folly) unappealing to you?

In what ways might this chapter increase our appreciation and understanding of the Lord’s Supper?

Take a moment to pray for someone that you would like to invite to the banquet of Christ’s salvation.