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A Feast of Wisdom

A meal to satisfy your soul

Proverbs 9:1-6

Wisdom has built her house;
    she has set up its seven pillars.

She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.

She has sent out her servants, and she calls
    from the highest point of the city,

“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
     To those who have no sense she says,

5 “Come, eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways and you will live;
    walk in the way of insight.”

As I write this, it is the holiday season. Late November and Thanksgiving recall bountiful harvests and Pilgrim feet, “…whose stern impassioned stress, A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness,” as the song goes.  

December means Christmas, the Nativity, and a celebration of Christ’s birth. For most of America and in the West, it is a time of joy and festivities, of remembering traditions and family, of gift-giving, of excess…and feasting.

Is your kitchen home to delicious dishes, colorful cookies, decadent desserts, and elaborate meals during the holidays? If you host family or friends, it is a time when Costco volume meets grandma’s secret recipes. Perhaps you have fine memories of family gatherings at the old home place, of tables buckling under the weight of food. 

The joy of a holiday feast can seem to overwhelm the senses. Here in Proverbs, chapter 9, Solomon lays out a feast that not only seems to overwhelm the senses–it overwhelms the soul.

As Solomon closes out chapters 1-9, the prologue to Proverbs, Lady Wisdom continues her call to you to follow her, and forsake the deadly fate of listening to Dame Folly:

Wisdom has built her house;
    she has set up its seven pillars.–Proverbs 9:1

Instead of four pillars, Wisdom’s house is made of seven pillars–denoting craftsmanship, and divine completeness. As one writer says, It is to her perfect house that Wisdom calls calls you, for she has a feast waiting: 

She has prepared her meat and mixed her wine;
    she has also set her table.–Proverbs 9:2

Wisdom’s feast is one of careful preparation, not “stolen water,” such as Dame Folly offers in her den (9:17). Good food cannot be rushed or come by cheaply. Think about this. The feast you prepare at Thanksgiving or Christmas takes hours even days to prepare. Likewise, a good Texas brisket, a nicely grilled steak, and even your mom’s famous pound cake takes time and attention.

The food here represents the desires of your heart, your appetites that build over your lifetime. The food that Wisdom offers is the path of righteousness. What are your desires in this life? They tell a lot about how you respond to sin and the world around you. 

If you desire status and praise, then you will not be able to overcome anger and bitterness. If you desire status or security, then you will not have victory over the power of money and greed. If you desire acceptance or to avoid conflict, then you will not be able to overcome the power of fear or will be unable to stand for the truth. 

Wisdom is calling you to her table to overcome your sinful, foolish pursuits and desire a life of righteousness. Tim Keller writes that “it is not just willpower, but a reordering of your desires that will bring wisdom.” This means a disciplined turning aside from and repenting of sin. It is starting over each time, like correcting a mathematical equation, as C.S. Lewis writes:

A sum can be put right: but only by going back til you find the error and working it afresh from that point, never by simply going on.–C.S. Lewis, “The Great Divorce” 

Wisdom is not content to sit and wait for you to notice or hear her–she sends all of her resources to apprehend you:

She has sent out her servants, and she calls
    from the highest point of the city,–Proverbs 9:3

Confederate soldier Sam Watkins wrote in his memoir of an incident that occurred during the American Civil War. As he and others in his bedraggled army struggled on a retreat, they were surprised to be met outside of a town by pretty young ladies. A dinner had been prepared for the Southern boys by the Ladies Association, and the girls had been sent to find and invite the soldiers in to eat. He remembered:

I imagine we were a funny looking sight. I know one thing, I felt good all over, and as proud as a boy with his first pants, and when we got to that supper room those young ladies waited on us, and we felt as grand as kings. To you, ladies, I say God bless you!–Sam Watkins, “Co. Aych” 

Thus, Lady Wisdom sends out opportunities into your life, that you may encounter and be instructed by her. It may be standing for truth when it would be more convenient to lie. It could be resisting the temptation to slander or gossip about someone. It may be taking time to love or care for someone who is grieving, or is caught in the cycle of sinful addiction. Hear her message: 

“Let all who are simple come to my house!”
     To those who have no sense she says,

5 “Come, eat my food
    and drink the wine I have mixed.

Leave your simple ways and you will live;
    walk in the way of insight.”–Proverbs 9:4-6

What is wonderful about Wisdom and her feast is that she seeks to invite all who will listen, even those who are uncommitted. God seeks that all should know His glory, even those who are stiff-necked and refuse to see. Commentator Bruce Waltke says:

With amazing grace, she who belongs to the heavenlies speaks to those numbered among fools.–Bruce Waltke, “Proverbs”

Lady Wisdom's words foreshadow the suffering savior of Isaiah 53 and the invitation He gives in chapter 55:

1 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.–Isaiah 55:1

Is this not what Jesus does? He who is The Word and very “wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:24) calls out into the highways and byways to invite all to the wedding supper of the bridegroom (Luke 14:23).

Here now, you understand, that the feast of Lady Wisdom is like the feast to which Christ offers Himself to you and to all whom will hear and know His voice. Jesus is the well-prepared table of wisdom itself, the very bread of life. As He explains to the Jews who sought to kill Him–and His disciples who continuously struggled to understand:

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”–John 6:48-51

You see then, that as a believer, the true feast of wisdom will be the wedding supper of the Lamb. Jesus calls you to feed on Him. In this is a wonderful image of the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament that we practice to remember and proclaim Him together. Here is a call too, to pursue Him through His word, by the Spirit, and through prayer each day. This is how you dine at Lady Wisdom’s table.  

But in order to enjoy the meal Christ offers, you must first know your need, your hunger for Him and His righteousness. You cannot reorder your desires, or give up what you love, if you do not first know your need. As Jesus says to the lukewarm church in Laodicea:  

Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—Rev 3:17

It is only when you taste the deliciousness of a meal, that you can realize just how famished you are, how empty you have become, and how great your need to be filled. As the prophet says further in Isaiah 55:

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.–Isaiah 55:6

One of the most amazing and delightful films is Babette’s Feast. Based on a short story by Isak Denisen (Karen Blixsen, of Out of Africa fame), the movie is a has been called “a delicate evocation of divine grace, and the ultimate film about food.” It is even the winner of the 1987 Academy Award for Foreign Language film. It is the perfect movie for a “foodie” and has been deemed a favorite of millions, including Food Network’s Alton Brown.

The story takes placed in a small Danish village and is centered around two women, daughters of a famous pastor. In their youth they forego marriage and family to take care of their father and assist him in his ministry. In time, he passes and they grow old, two spinsters settled into routine amid quarrelsome neighbors who seem to know no joy.

One day, a mysterious stranger shows at their door–a French woman who is a refugee from war. She is reluctantly hired by the sisters to cook and care for them. this woman, Babette, brings excitement into their lives, dazzling them with delicious meals, so different from the bland meals they know. 

Babette’s only link to her former life is a lottery ticket. A friend in Paris sends word one day, that Babette has won, and she receives 10,000 francs. The sisters have come to love her and are now certain she will leave. Instead Babette asks one wish, to prepare them a “real French dinner” before she goes. They reluctantly grant it, and soon the house is filled with the fantastic food and aromas of a great feast being prepared. 

At last, dinner is served. Old friends and invited guests from the village are all are filled with wonder at the avalanche of delicacies and heavenly food. With pure delight they enjoy the meal, and as they dine, quarrels and bitterness dissolves and the pleasure and love of the meal flows through them all. One guest, a general, says of Babette:

This woman, this Chef has the ability to transform a dinner into a kind of love affair, a love affair that makes no distinction between the bodily appetite and the spiritual appetite.-Babette’s Feast

He then offers a toast, quoting from Psalm 85:

“Mercy and truth, my friends, have met together,” said the General. “Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.”–Babette’s Feast

With the meal finally finished, old love and friendships have rekindled, wrongs have been forgiven, and peace reigns in all. The sisters know that Babette must now leave them, but she confesses that she cannot: for she spent all of her winnings on her meal, out of love for them. 

Jesus has done this, He has offered the table of Lady Wisdom, prepared for you. He bids you only to do three things: come, eat, and delight in Him. 

Do you hunger for Him? Do you seek to be filled? Know your hunger, and seek the One who feeds you a feast of holy wisdom. He stands to save you, like the old hymn sings:

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
full of pity, love, and power.



The Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay and this Saturday Deep is written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

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