The woman of folly is boisterous, simple and knows nothing. She sits at the doorway of her house on a seat by the high places of the city, calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight: ‘Whoever is simple, 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 (Proverbs 9:13-18).
Early in the Book of God’s Wisdom, which we call Proverbs, we are introduced to Two Ladies. Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly. Both ladies call out to passersby from high places (Prov 8:1-2; 9:14-15). Both ladies cry out to the “simple,” which is the way fools or naive men lacking wisdom are referred to in Proverbs (Prov 8:4-5; 9:16). Both ladies have a house or home and have prepared a dinner (Prov. 9:1-6; 13-17).
But notice what appears to be a a few significant differences.
- Lady Wisdom cries out to the simple to urge them to “understand wisdom” (8:5). Lady Folly cries out to those “who are making their paths straight” and encourages them in their naivety / foolishness (8:15-16).
- Lady Wisdom speaks “noble things” and “right things” (8:6). Lady Folly is herself a fool, lacking in wisdom (8:13). She’s got nothing noble or right to offer!
- Lady Wisdom prepares a true feast of rich meat and wine (9:2). Lady Folly offers “stolen water” and “secret bread” (9:17).
I do not pretend to know with 100% accuracy what “stolen water” and “secret bread” really is, but I can make some educated guesses based on the wisdom given in the Book of Proverbs. Lady Folly is lazy. She takes what is not hers, unwilling to work for it, then offers it tantalizingly to others! She appears to offer life-giving water, but in the end it is stolen, its true source is unknown. Perhaps she drew it from a poisoned well? Her table cannot be put on full public display because it has shameful bread on it, things that one would not be willing to imbibe openly.
Just how many facets of our culture and society fit under this umbrella of “stolen water” and secret bread?”
Socialism? Steal from some people to give it to others. And this is done forcibly by the government!
Pornography? Steal all dignity from women, degrade them and encourage them to degrade themselves all to allow fools to drink that poison water. The “bread” of pornography is very secret! It offers up stolen pleasure, which was never meant to be ours in the first place.
Laziness? Proverbs has much to say on it! The desire to pursue or achieve life and pleasure without putting our own hands to the plow. I saw a documentary sometime last year that chronicled the growing number of young men in America who just want to play video games, smoke dope and enjoy their checks from the government (i.e., stolen money).
But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.
Beware! Stolen water and secret bread never deliver on their promises. Once you step inside Lady Folly’s front door, that door slams and you’re trapped at a table full of haunting skeletons.
Oh, if we could only hear their screams, voices from hell, before we set foot in that door. Oh, if God would mercifully tune our ears only to that of Lady Wisdom. For her house is really the Lord’s house. And at His right hand are “pleasures forevermore” (Ps 16:11).