3 She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, 4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, 5 “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” Proverbs 9:3-6
13 The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. 14 She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, 15 calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, 16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Proverbs 9:13-17
If you are new to Bible reading, then I will be honest with you–the next few days of the reading plan probably won’t make that much of an impression on you. Reading straight through Proverbs is a little like browsing the greeting card aisle at Target. Lots of pithy little quips of advice, immediately forgotten as soon as you close the card. No, in order to really absorb the wisdom of Proverbs, you have to keep coming back to it. Day after day, month after month, year after year.
Take advantage of the fact that Proverbs has thirty-0ne chapters, and most months of the year have thirty-one days. If you can develop the discipline of reading a chapter a day in Proverbs, then over time you will begin to recall its truths almost on a muscle memory level. You’ll find yourself remembering the Proverbs that speak to certain topics, such as money management, decision making, controlling your tongue, and so forth. They will seem less and less like greeting card maxims and more and more like the words of life they are meant to be.
But you have to choose to do more than just survey them as a box to check in a reading plan.
There is an iconic scene in the 1999 movie The Matrix. Morpheus, the wise mentor, calls for Neo to make a choice:
You take the blue pill, the story ends, and you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, and you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Proverbs 9 is the conclusion to the book’s lengthy introduction. In the first nine chapters of Proverbs, a father has been inviting his son to follow the path of wisdom. He’s outlined the benefits of wisdom. He’s painted a grim picture of the consequences of folly.
But the father knows that at the end of the day, it comes down to a choice. So brilliantly, the introduction ends with an invitation from Lady Wisdom on one side of the street, and the Woman Folly on the other side. The genius of Proverbs 9 is that the invitations are so similar:
- They are both given from the highest point of the city (verse 3, verse 14)
- They both target the simple, the one lacking sense (verse 4, verse 16)
- They both invite the simple young man to eat and drink (verse 5, verse 17)
The difference is that one is the blue pill. Folly invites us back to a life of bondage and imprisonment to our own vices and impulses. Wisdom invites us to take the red pill. Learn wisdom. Go deeper into her house. Drink deep of the wine she has mixed. Eat your fill of the bread she has baked.
In other words, read the next twenty-one chapters.
In the end, Morpheus knew that each person had to choose for themselves whether to continue to live in the lie of the Matrix or to open their eyes to understanding and truth. And in the same way, we have to choose to follow the way of wisdom. Sometimes the world’s way looks a lot more attractive. As Folly says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is delicious” (verse 17). She isn’t wrong. But what she doesn’t tell her simple guest is that this is the way of the dead. That her path leads to destruction.
If all you do is read Proverbs in the next few days, then you are still doing more than most people do. The majority of self-professed Christians have never read the Bible all the way through. But I want to challenge you to let the next few days of the reading plan be an introduction to a lifelong immersion in the book or Proverbs. Keep coming back to it!
The choice is yours. Take the red pill.