THE TWO WOMEN OF PROVERBS
The New Testament describes for our learning two symbolic women: the true ecclesial virgin, and the apostate harlot. So we read in 2 Corinthians chapter 11 of the concern of Paul regarding the future state of the ecclesia:
“… I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chase virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2-3).
Paul’s fear was that the pure ecclesial virgin would corrupt herself away from the simplicity that was in Christ—and that did indeed happen. The Apocalypse very graphically depicts this situation, describing how that the virgin had become a whore, or harlot. In Chapter 17, we read of this second woman:
“… the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth” (Rev. 17:4-5).
This mother of harlotry is that great system of apostasy that Messiah will destroy upon his return (Rev. 18:2), but until that time comes she remains prominent in the earth, and so is able to beguile the believers away from the hope that they have in union with Christ.
The book of Proverbs also deals with these 2 women, under the description of the wise woman, and the foolish harlot: we shall consider these in turn.
THE WISE WOMAN
Proverbs chapter 1 begins by introducing us to the cry of Wisdom, personified as a woman:
“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets. She crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, How long ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? And the corners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words to you …” (Prov. 1:20-23)
Sometimes it is said that all we need to have is a simple faith, and that will be sufficient. However, the voice of wisdom says otherwise: we must not “love simplicity”, but seek after wisdom with all of our might. We must receive reproof, and progress from simplicity to wisdom.
Psalm 19 continues this theme, concerning the Word of God:
“the Law of Yahweh is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of Yahweh is sure, making wise the simple” (Psa. 19:7).
It is the written words and testimonies of Yahweh that can delight the mind of the spirit and impart that wisdom which comes from above:
“the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (Jas 3:17)
This array of fine attributes is something that only be obtained by constant attention to the Wisdom of the Word of Yahweh, as described within the Holy Writ. But those wise sayings of the Word are not hidden in a corner, or obscured to men of understanding. It is proclaimed to any who might turn from their simplicity and embrace her:
“Wisdom crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets: She crieth in the chief places of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words …” (Prov. 1:20-21)
As we have shown in a previous article, we can see in these words a pattern later to be repeated by Messiah, who was the Word Made Flesh (Jno 1:14), and who “of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Jesus was “made wisdom” being the embodiment of the principles of the Proverbs, and the other Scriptures likewise.
We can see in the book of Proverbs the basis for many, if not all of the parables of Messiah. For instance, in proclaiming wisdom, we read in Proverbs 9:
“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars: She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city …” (Prov. 9:1-3).
The wise woman therefore, has provided a feast of spiritual delights, upon the basis of sacrifice. In a similar way, we read the parable of the marriage supper:
“the kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise …” (Mat. 22:2-5).
Notice the similarities: there is a feast based on sacrifice, servants are sent out to call men and women to partake of that feast, yet the guests refuse to hear that calling. So we read that:
“when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (Mat. 22:7).
And so it is that we read of those who reject Wisdom’s call:
“Because I have called and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I will also laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish come upon you …” (Prov. 1:24:27)
Notice that the feast that Wisdom calls us to partake of is, as we said above, based upon the sacrificial slaying of animals. But also, bread and wine:
“Come ye, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled” (Prov. 9:5).
The eating of bread and the drinking of wine is something we do each Sunday as a token of fellowship, and the memorial of the offering up of our Redeemer who takes away our sins. We see in this simple love-feast, the principles of sacrifice and devotion of labours to the Divine Will. So Messiah said: “Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (Jno. 6:53). Many left him at this point, being unable to receive the things he was saying.
Whilst we are considering Proverbs chapter 9, it is important to notice another aspect to Wisdom: the “way” of understanding:
“Forsake the foolish and live; and go in the Way of understanding” (Prov. 9:6).
There are, as Messiah taught in his parable, only two ways that we can walk along: a living narrow way, and a broad way that leads only to death and destruction (see Mat. 7:13). The cry of Wisdom is to forsake the foolish way, and embrace the way of understanding. Consider the following passages:
“I have taught thee in the way of wisdom: I have let thee in right paths” (Prov. 4:11)
“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men” (Prov. 4:14)
“the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble” (Prov. 4:18-19)
The exhortation is very plain: we must decide which path we are on: either the wide way of the wicked, which can only lead to death and destruction, or on the narrow Way of Life which will lead to no other destination than the coming kingdom.
Finally, we need to note that there is a day of opportunity, which is soon to come to an end. There is a day when the voice of wisdom can be heard and heeded, but that day is soon to expire, and then it will be too late:
“Then they shall call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of Yahweh: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices” (Prov. 1:28-31).
Just as in the days of Noah, there was opportunity to enter into the ark and be saved, even so there is now an opportunity to embrace the salvation that comes from the offering up of Jesus. And just as that day of opportunity came to an end, when Yahweh shut Noah’s righteous family in, so there is a time of judgment to come, when it will be too late to enter into the antitypical ark.
THE FOOLISH WOMAN
The initial cry of the foolish woman is identical to that of the wise: “whoso is simple, let him turn in hither …” (Prov. 9:16). In this regard, there are those who therefore cannot tell the difference between the two. Her ways are attractive and palatable to the flesh:
“… the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth smoother than oil” (Prov. 5:3).
But her end is destruction to those who pursue her:
“But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two edged sword. Her feet go down to death her steps take hold on hell” (Prov. 5:4-5)
The problem that we are presented with, is that the false harlot is a parody of the true and faithful virgin. The harlot uses the language of the Truth:
“she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him, I have peace offerings with me; this day have I payed my vows …” (Prov. 7:13-14).
Notice this: she speaks of peace offerings and the paying of vows, as if she were a true worshiper. This is a characteristic of the Mother and her Harlot daughters of the apocalypse. The false religious system uses the language of the Bible to describe non-Bible ideas. These are but a few examples of this: the Bible uses the word “predestination” to describe the foreknowledge of Yahweh, but Calvanism uses it to describe a theory that denies free-will. The Bible uses the word “devil” to describe a personification of Sin, but the church uses the word to describe a malevolent fallen angel. And the Bible uses the word “soul” to describe the life of a person, but the churches use it to describe an immortal essence that ascends to heaven upon death.
What this means is that when the apostate church uses Bible language, their followers will look at their Bible, and assume that it speaks of the same thing as they. For example, they will look at the fact that the Bible uses the word “devil”, and assume that when the church talks about the “devil” that they are referring to the same thing. So, the language of the Truth is used to describe falsehoods—and thus presents a distorted and truth-denying position to those around us. In this way, the faithful virgin has become an unfaithful prostitute.
According to the Proverbs, this harlot-woman, although she uses religious language, is ignorant of the principles of the Truth:
“a foolish woman is clamorous [i.e. loud]: she is simple, and knoweth nothing” (Prov. 9:13).
Israel of old were destroyed for “lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6), and so it is with the Apostate churches. It is not because the availability of knowledge is scarce, rather, they choose to reject it. Hence in chapter 1 of the Proverbs gives the appeal of the faithful virgin:
“Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded. But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof … for that they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of Yahweh: They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof” (Prov. 1:23-30).
The Word of God alone is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (1 Tim. 3:16), and we must therefore give it our utmost attention in all humility, that we might eschew folly, and seek that wisdom which comes from above. We have in the book of Proverbs, two women, one wise, and the other foolish. Rather than to refuse true Bible teaching, like the foolish harlot, we must embrace it, and have the humility to be corrected by Wisdom. We must strive to become part of the spiritual Bride of Messiah, keeping ourselves pure and chaste, as we look forward to the wedding, and the marriage supper to follow. Only then will we know to choose the good, and refuse the evil, and be invited to enter into the joy of our Lord.