Cultivating God’s Wisdom: LADY WISDOM VERSES LADY FOLLY by Servants of Gracefor
When John Bunyan penned his famous work, “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, in the seventeenth century, he used the technique of personifying characteristics to compose an allegory about a journey through life. In the case of Bunyan’s work, it documented Christian’s trek prior to his conversion until the time when he reached the Celestial City. He met people such as Faithful, Evangelist, Obstinate, and Pliable, to name four– identifiers given to them because of their personalities. In much the same way, Solomon personified certain attributes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in his poetical books, most notably being Wisdom and Folly in the Book of Proverbs.
Solomon’s book included warnings to his son, most likely Rehoboam since he is the only known son of Solomon, so that the boy would know the difference between whom he could trust and whom he could not. The words “my son” appear fifteen times in the first seven chapters alone, and the word “son” appears several other times throughout the book. Solomon often labeled sons generically as either wise or foolish.
Solomon’s words of instruction for his son are exactly the words I want my son, my mother-in-law’s son, and your son to follow. On the other hand, while giving his son instruction, he indirectly gave instruction to women, too. Most, if not all, of the women that Solomon mentioned in Proverbs could be personified as Lady Wisdom or Lady Folly. I would like my daughters, my mom’s daughter, and your daughters to follow the Lady Wisdom model. Solomon sometimes indirectly denotes which woman he means by the company she keeps, and in other instances directly, such as when he names an immoral amoral female as “The woman Folly” in Proverbs 9:13 (ESV) or Wisdom designated as “she” in Proverbs chapters 1 and 8.
If we were to make a chart comparing Lady Wisdom with Lady Folly, we would find that they have very few things in common. While it is true that both are out in public trying to make converts of all who will listen, the messages of Wisdom and Folly are opposites. Wisdom is everywhere calling men to repentance. She believes in the sanctity of marriage and desires husbandly fidelity. Lady Wisdom is synonymous with the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31. She is the woman who keeps her home and protects her relationship with her husband. He, in turn, is highly esteemed in their community and much of the trust in him is because of the support she supplies him. He would then be Lord Wisdom and their relationship is seen as the way of godly life.
Lady Folly is also out in the streets but dressed as a harlot and hidden in the shadows. She is not seeking a husband or looking for her husband at the city gates. She is looking for a man to seduce. Lord Folly is away on a business trip. There is no mention of the husband’s integrity either at home or abroad so we cannot predict whether he was also a Nabal (see 1 Samuel 25:25) or whether he was just oblivious to her antics in his absence. He may even be away often because she is the clamorous, riotous woman described later in the book of Proverbs as being someone to cause a man to prefer meager rations and impoverished homes to being married to her. Either way, her lifestyle is the way of an ungodly death according to Proverbs 7:27.
The Bible describes the Christian’s relationship with Jesus Christ as a marriage. The characteristics of Wisdom are the characteristics of our Savior. They are One. Their union sanctifies the offspring. This explains why Proverbs 11:30 tells us that the person who wins souls is wise. Spiritual children are the result of an abiding (faithful) union with Christ.
By association then, someone who claims the name of Jesus Christ, but consorts with fools, is an unfaithful spouse who treats the Lord Jesus as though He were on a faraway journey and will not return until the appointed time. That statement is only half-truth. Jesus will return at an appointed time, but He is never far away. As part of the Triune God, He is always with His Bride.