What Board Games Taught Me about Bible Study

Because my wife and I just returned from our 10th wedding anniversary extravaganza, I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. I’m just getting caught up after a 3-day celebratory getaway. But a few reflections are in order.

First, the facts. We enjoy board games, and we decided to celebrate our 10th anniversary by playing at least 10 different games (we ended up having time for 12). We took a few pleasant strolls through the woods, we squeezed in some low maintenance meals, and we had a few hours for reading. But we spent most of the time head-to-head, man vs. woman, each exercising their God-given instincts to bring order and dominion to the cosmos. The age-long battle of the sexes was at stake, and neither of us dropped our guard for even a minute.

CavernaSecond, the results. Though I found some small consolation in my closing 3-game win streak, Erin won the series 7-5. Ain’t no flies on her! May the world never accuse me of taking advantage of this extraordinarily precocious woman. I, in fact, could barely keep up.

Third, my conclusions. I must improve my observation skills—paying attention to what will get me points and not just what feels like a good move. My presumption too often hinders my interpretation—I spend too many turns trying to block my wife’s presumed strategy and not enough turns developing my own. And courageous application is sweet—games lose their luster when I spend more time thinking than acting. My chronic analysis paralysis sucks out the fun if I’m not careful.

Observe, interpret, apply: This is the essence of communication. Even board games can offer opportunities to stretch these muscles.

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For those interested in such things, here’s what we played (complete with Amazon affiliate links to help support this blog at no extra cost). If you’re in the market for buckets of fun, every one of these games is fantastic.

 

To Prompt or Not to Prompt

This summer I met a professional (minor league) baseball player. I asked him if he still uses a tee for batting practice, and his response confirmed my suspicions: “Every day.”

A good Bible study guide is like a baseball tee. While it is not part of the actual game, it performs a critical function in training all players, be they youngsters, pros, or anyone in between.

Similarly, while Bible study guides should not be the heart and soul of our Scripture study, they are invaluable for refining, training, and conditioning our study skills. This goes not only for printed guides—workbooks, commentaries, etc.—but also for oral guides like discussion questions and prompting from a leader. In this final post on preparing to lead effective Bible studies, I’d like to reflect on something I often wrestle with: Should I give people specific questions to help them prepare for the next meeting?

Ken Bingham (2009), Creative Commons

Ken Bingham (2009), Creative Commons

What I Mean by Prompting

Last week, my small group was planning to study Romans 1:1-17. We had just discussed a book overview at the previous meeting. A few days before the meeting, I emailed participants with a few questions to help their preparation:

  1. According to this passage, what is the gospel?
  2. Why is Paul so excited about it?

That’s it. I didn’t put a huge effort into crafting a careful study guide. I just wanted to give a few open-ended questions to stimulate their thinking in the right direction. Is it helpful to do this?

Reasons to Prompt

There are many good reasons to prompt people in their preparation:

  • People who have never studied the Bible before won’t know what to do without some help. They’ll sit and stare at the passage (if they have the fortitude to do even that) before giving up hopelessly.
  • Some who have studied can still get in ruts. Familiarity may cause them to presume on the text’s meaning. A skilled leader can prompt them in the right direction.
  • People eventually learn how to ask good questions after they’ve had good models to imitate.
  • Such prompting sets the meeting up for success:
    • It enables the group to begin the discussion farther down the road toward the main point.
    • It may limit the number of rabbit trails.
    • It provides structure for the group discussion.
  • Prompting shapes expectations and communicates key ideas.
  • It helps people to begin meditating on these key ideas before they get to the meeting. Such advance notice often makes interpretation and application discussions more fruitful.

What are some other good reasons for prompting?

Reasons Not to Prompt

I don’t have a long list for this category; just one chief danger. Prompting can short-circuit people’s ability to interact with the text directly.

When I ask (good) questions, people will (usually) answer. But how can they learn how to ask their own questions if I never give them the chance? The first step of interpretation is to ask questions of our observations, and Bible study participants should have opportunity to practice this skill as much as the rest. Though I may succeed at communicating the truth of the text, will I succeed at showing people how to find that truth in my absence?

Conclusion

To prompt or not to prompt? Like most areas where we need wisdom, the answer is: It depends.

It depends on who the people are. It depends on how much experience they have with Bible study. It depends on what my goals are as I lead them. It depends on what the people are ready for. It depends on what they want. It depends on whether they’ll feel stretched or broken.

I believe neither that we must always prompt nor that we must never prompt. But I believe we must at least think about it if we want to lead effectively.

Can We Really Trust the Bible?

This new book from Barry Cooper looks interesting. Here’s an excerpt of his Can I Really Trust the Bible? from the Good Book blog:

Writing was the natural way to preserve God’s words for present and future generations.

For example, the Ten Commandments are described as having been “inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18), and when the stone tablets were smashed by Moses—in a fit of anger at Israel’s idolatry—God immediately took steps to replace them. Writing was the way God carefully protected his words so that they would not be lost, changed, distorted or forgotten. As he says to Moses at one point: “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered…” (Exodus 17:14).

Again, in the Bible’s final book, we read:

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5

So there’s no reason to be suspicious of the Bible’s divine authority simply because it’s a book. Words don’t become less authoritative because they’re written rather than spoken.

In fact, when you think about it, the reverse is true. The most important statements human beings make—whether they be legally-binding contracts or lyrical expressions of love—are most often written down, at least when we intend them to be powerful and lasting. When God specifically instructs that his words be written down, things get serious.

Check it out!

How to Read Proverbs 10-31 in Light of Proverbs 1-9

In Proverbs 9, wisdom has built her house and invites you to her feast. Last week, I argued that the house is Proverbs 1-9 and the feast is Proverbs 10-31. In this post, I’ll show you how to read Proverbs in this way.

What to Remember from Proverbs 1-9

Debbi Long (2008), Creative Commons

Debbi Long (2008), Creative Commons

I can’t exhaust in a short list what Solomon took 9 chapters to explain. But I find a few organizing hooks helpful:

  • There are three kinds of people: wise, fool, simple.
  • The first step toward wisdom is a willingness to change, evident by listening to what God says.
  • Listening to God’s wisdom involves both passive reception and active pursuit.
  • The two primary obstacles to wisdom are easy money and easy sex; both cause us to focus on ourselves instead of the Lord.
  • God’s wisdom changes everything about us, including hopes, disappointments, relationships, and influence.
  • The Savior, the Sluggard, and the Sower of Discord deserve careful attention and avoidance.

For further explanation of any of these points, see the Proverbs table of contents page.

The Main Idea when Moving into Proverbs 10-31

The key point is this: Godly wisdom always takes place in the context of a relationship with God. Of course we see echoes of God’s wisdom when ungodly people follow his principles. But such wisdom is at best incomplete, and at worst counterfeit.

How to Read Proverbs 10-31

It will be easier for me to show you than to tell you, so let’s look at the first few verses.

Proverbs 10:1

I covered this one last week.

Proverbs 10:2

A wrong or incomplete way to read it: Conduct your business with honesty and integrity.

A better way to read it: Though easy money (unjust gain) promises security and community (Prov 1:13-14), it can’t keep those promises. God’s favor is available to those who seek his wisdom; this favor gives life beyond the grave (Prov 8:34-35).

Proverbs 10:3

A wrong reading: If I serve God, he’ll make my life prosper.

A better reading: Those who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness will be satisfied (Prov 2:9). But life on earth often doesn’t go as we expect (Prov 3:11-12).

Proverbs 10:4

An incomplete reading: Work hard.

A better reading: This verse is pretty close to Proverbs 6:10-11. We must remember, however, that the chief “diligence” of Proverbs is to get wisdom at all costs (Prov 4:5, 7).

Proverbs 10:5

An incomplete reading: Make your parents proud by working hard in the right seasons.

A better reading: We honor our parents when we honor the Lord (Prov 2:1-6), though sometimes parents forget this fact. The Lord’s wisdom gives us a long view that enables us to be self-motivated and seasonally productive (Prov 6:7-8)

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Now I’ll choose a few more verses with a random number generator just to show this way of reading isn’t limited to chapter 10…

Proverbs 22:7

An incomplete reading: With wealth comes power. Debt is always a bad idea.

A better reading: Easy money attracts by making possible power over others. It makes sense that those who focus on themselves more than on the Lord would be drawn to both money and power. But there is one Savior for both rich and poor (Prov 6:1-5, 8:32-36).

Proverbs 24:13-14

An incomplete reading: Wisdom in general is good for us. Learning and education make our lives better.

A better reading: Wisdom comes from the Lord (Prov 2:6). Knowing him is good for us and will make our lives better.

Proverbs 20:16

An incomplete reading: We should counsel people to make good financial decisions, and we should hold them accountable for poor ones.

A better reading: If someone tries to be the kind of savior that only the Lord can be, we should be careful not to increase his credit limit. Your trust in the Lord may sometimes decrease your trust in those who promise too much.

———————–

In most cases, the “incomplete” reading is not necessarily wrong, just…incomplete. Be careful not to use Proverbs as though God himself is irrelevant. Always remember the context of chapters 1-9.

Does Your Bible Teaching Hijack Your Bible Learning?

Personal study time is costly, especially when there’s a flock to shepherd.

The Scenario

Afghanistan Matters (2009), Creative Commons

Afghanistan Matters (2009), Creative Commons

You might be a teacher, with lessons to prepare. You might be a mentor, with students who need direction. You might be a parent, with children who need constant nurture. You might simply be a friend, with confused or inquisitive companions who have questions about Christianity.

Whatever the case, your personal Bible study time perpetually drifts toward “teaching prep(aration)” time.

You can’t read a passage without envisioning how you would teach it. Your mind focuses on what might help your students. Your parental concern drives your application. Your study consists of finding answers to your friend’s latest questions.

What’s Good

Part of your struggle is really healthy. You should seek the good of others. Application of Scripture can go in two directions: personal growth and influential leadership. Many people focus on the former and exclude the latter. You have the opposite tendency.

God may have given you – and your teaching ability – as a gift to your church (Eph 4:11-14). Talk to your elders to see if they confirm the gift and have opportunities for you to exercise it more in the church.

Whatever you do, keep growing as a teacher, mentor, parent, and friend. Just because you’re good and gifted at something doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it. Hone that skill. Shape that passion. Refine it to the glory of God.

And don’t ever feel guilty by your inclination to help others. It does not make your Bible study any less personal or acceptable to God.

What’s Not So Good

However, part of your struggle might be pretty unhealthy. You may need to revisit your definition of how to teach or lead others.

Sometimes leaders feel the need to schedule separate time just for personal growth. They think, “I’m going to have time to study the Bible so I can learn from it – not just so I can teach it.”

But the failure here is not actually a failure to learn from the Bible. It’s a failure to understand how to teach the Bible.

You can’t teach the Bible effectively without first learning from it. And your teaching ought to embody your learning. The teaching and the learning are not and cannot be exclusive to each other (as though you can do one without the other).

Look at some of Paul’s ministry methods:

  • He committed himself to sharing not only the gospel of God, but his own life, with his people (1 Thess 2:8).
  • His own example was his most influential persuasion (1 Cor 10:31-11:1).
  • His teaching affected him personally long before he expected it to affect others (Gal 1:11-2:10).
  • He taught only what he had learned. His own life – not just his ideas – provided the model to shape his students (Phil 4:9).
  • He didn’t hesitate to use both his strengths and weaknesses as illustrations of God’s grace (2 Cor 11:16-12:10).
  • He wouldn’t ask someone to do something unless he had been there and done it first. And he didn’t mind drawing attention to it if it would motivate the student (2 Tim 2:1-2, 4:1-8).

What do these things mean for our teaching?

First, don’t feel guilty if your “teaching prep” time invades your “personal study” time. Your teaching prep should include personal study and application, so why not combine the tasks?

Second, when you teach other people (whether formally or informally), share how the principles have affected your life. People need more than ideas; they need role models. When God wanted to teach us, he became one of us and lived out his teaching among us. We ought to follow his example.

Unless people see how you’ve learned what you teach, your teaching won’t have any bite. Your principles will sound like platitudes. Your education will feel empty. Your recommendations will ring hollow. Your learnedness will lose its luster.

I’ve seen it happen over and over. I’m counseling someone on an issue, and it doesn’t “click” for them until I share how I’ve struggled with the same issue. My children respond best when they understand that I need to grow in Christ as much as they do. My small group’s application discussion hits 5th gear after I’ve shared my own failures and my hope in the grace of Christ.

I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s the most difficult part of my “teaching prep,” as it requires me to hope in Christ and not my performance.

But I’ve got to share my life with those I lead. My effectiveness depends upon it.

DeYoung’s 5 Tips for Leading Small Groups

Kevin DeYoung posted a great article last week on leading small groups. His tips are:

  1. Communicate early and often, and then follow through.
  2. Think through your questions ahead of time.
  3. Be mindful of group dynamics.
  4. Know how to handle conflict.
  5. Plan for prayer.

I wrote some similar things in my posts “How to Lead a Great Bible Study” and “5 Practices for Preparing Effective Bible Studies,” so I highly recommend the full article. Check it out!

What is Wisdom’s Feast?

Discussions of Proverbs 9 often settle on a list of contrasts between the feasts of Wisdom and Folly, and I couldn’t resist beginning my study there. But observing contrasts merely gets us started. Interpretation compels us to ask a “What” question and a “Why” question:

  • What is Wisdom’s feast?
  • Why does Wisdom invite us to this feast?

The second question is pretty easy, and we’ve covered it many times: Wisdom offers life (Prov 9:6), while Folly offers death (Prov 9:18). Wisdom seeks our good; Folly seeks no good.

Ron Cogswell (2012), Creative Commons

Ron Cogswell (2012), Creative Commons

That answer does us no good, however, unless we have a clear answer to the first question. If Wisdom provides life through her feast, how do we get that life? What is the feast, and when can we start eating? If we get this wrong, we’ll waste our time. We’ll fill up on salad and have no room left for dessert.

One Tempting Answer

We could answer the question by saying, “Wisdom is the feast.” We could support our answer by references to poetry, figurative language, and devices like personification. We’d be careful not to push the imagery too far, and we’d come away believing that wisdom is the feast. Wisdom (poetically personified) invites us to come and partake of (God’s spiritual) wisdom.

And while I’m sure there’s some truth here, I’m unsatisfied by this answer. I find it so abstract and mystical that I’m left feeling hopeless. How do I know if I’m drawing on wisdom’s well deeply enough? How do I know whether it’s changing me? How do I know whether I’m consuming the right supply of nourishment?

And how do I get it? Must I listen to the voices inside my head? Will I feel a peace about it? Will God confirm my choices by making circumstances line up just right?

Observe the Passage

A better way forward is to observe the passage at hand. We can answer our interpretive questions from the text.

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts;
she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.” (Prov 9:1-6, ESV)

Notice especially how the text gives more space to the feast’s preparation than to the feast itself:

  • she built her house
  • she hewed out seven pillars
  • she slaughtered beasts
  • she mixed wine
  • she set her table
  • she sent out young women with invitations

Much work is done before a single simpleton grabs a knife and fork. And I shouldn’t say the work “is” done. Better to say it “has been” done. The verb tenses are no accident.

Observe the Context

Let’s zoom out and remember what’s going on. Proverbs 1-9 serves as a long introduction to the book of Proverbs. And chapter 9 is the last section of that long introduction. Reading Proverbs from the beginning, we haven’t yet gotten to any of the book’s meat. Everything so far has been a framing of ideas and a creating of categories. Solomon has been building a foundation upon which the details of chapters 10-31 will make sense.

For example, Proverbs 10:1 (“A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother”) isn’t merely about good relationships that keep one’s parents happy. Solomon plants a single seed in the soil of wisdom’s field, and the soil’s fertility comes from what he’s already said about categories of people, appeals to listen, the blessings of godliness, and the fear of the Lord.

In fact, every verse in Proverbs 10-31 should be read in light of the context established by Proverbs 1-9. I recently saw a review for a book about Proverbs that said:

Although drawn from the Biblical book of Proverbs, it is not a preachy book. Truth is truth, no matter what the source, and you can benefit from this book whether you are “religious” or not.

But this misses the point, does it not? Any advice on money, relationships, business, or leadership drawn from Proverbs must be read in light of wisdom’s beginning: the fear of the Lord. Without a relationship with God, there is no wisdom (Prov 2:6-8)! Any non-religious attempt to apply principles from Proverbs is a counterfeit; it is stolen water and secret bread (Prov 9:17).

My point is this: Wisdom’s feast is the book of Proverbs, especially chapters 10-31. The “house” is Proverbs 1-9. Chapter 9 is the pivot. The house has been built, and you’re invited to the feast. You’re almost ready to dig in.

Though stating the matter tentatively, Bruce Waltke provides no alternatives to this interpretation:

The representation of Wisdom as having built her house and prepared her banquet may represent figuratively the prologue [chapters 1-9] and the Collections [chapters 10-31] respectively. The house (i.e., the introductory prologue) is now finished, and the banquet (i.e., the proverbs of Solomon) is about to begin. Her messengers (i.e., the parents) have been sent to invite the uncommitted and dull youth to eat and drink her sumptuous fare. Their sons are already waiting for Wisdom to open her doors. (The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-15, p. 431)

Sample Launching Questions for Bible Studies

Stephen Crawford (2011), Creative Commons

Stephen Crawford (2011), Creative Commons

Bible studies often begin well with a good launching question. When I prepare to lead, I usually prepare the beginning at the end. I like to know where I’m going before I decide which way to kick the thing off.

For those who like examples, I now spread a feast. Here’s a list of sample launching questions I’ve used in the last 6 months with (hopefully) enough context for you to make sense of them. The “Central Truth” was the passage’s main point that I wanted the group to see by the end of the study. The Launching Question was my very first question to begin the study.

Exodus Launching Questions

Context: church small group with a variety of ages and life situations among the members.

Exodus 3:7-4:17

Central Truth: God’s agents must share God’s heart for God’s people, but often they don’t.
Launching Question: How do you normally respond to the weakness or suffering of other people?

Exodus 4:18-31

(I can’t take credit for this one. My co-leader Warren Wright led this study.)

Central Truth: God prepares and provides for His servants so that they may be ready for service.
Launching Question: How does God prepare you for service? Or: How do you prepare for important events/actions?

Exodus 5:1-21

Central Truth: When God’s plan doesn’t match our plan, we usually look for someone to blame.
Launching Question: What would you like to see God do in our Growth Group? (Dream big!) What will you do if the group doesn’t meet your expectations?

Exodus 5:22-7:7

Central Truth: To know Yahweh as your God, you must experience deliverance and the fulfillment of his promises by the hand of his mediator.
Launching Question: What do you think it means to know God? How does one go about knowing God?

Exodus 11:1-12:28

Central Truth: All must know that Yahweh owns everything and remakes his creation at will.
Launching Question: What does it mean to “redeem” something? In ordinary usage? In the Bible? [I wanted to get at the idea of ownership.]

Exodus 12:29-13:16

Central Truth: Future generations must know that Yahweh owns the firstborn (=everything) and remakes his creation at will.
Launching Question: What is the most important thing you would like to be remembered for in the future?

John Launching Questions

Context: ministry small group with summer interns (all undergraduate college students). I felt like I could push the boundaries of social awkwardness just a little to make John’s points clear.

John 1:1-18

Central Truth: The eternal God entered human history to reveal himself so we might become his children, but our natural response is to reject him.
Launching Question: Let’s test the quality of your sex education: How is a baby born?

John 3

Central Truth: We must know two things to see and enter the Kingdom of God: 1) The Bad News: our need for rebirth, 2) The Good News: the arrival of a savior.
Launching Question: What happens when a willing couple can’t get pregnant? [Insert discussion of modern fertility treatment procedures and the understandable desire to make new births happen.] Why do you think people won’t accept Jesus’ message today? [Connect to our inability to force a new birth.]

John 19

Central Truth: The King’s work is complete.
Launching Question: Would you like to have a romantic relationship? Why? How else do you respond to your innate sense of incompletion or loneliness?

I invite your opinion. How could these launching questions be improved?

Jesus and the Proverbs

How do we se Jesus in the Proverbs? Simple. As J.A. Medders writes, “Wisdom is a ‘Who’ More than a ‘What.'”

The Proverbs are the practical righteousness of Christ, his life, played out in our sanctification. Wisdom isn’t a nebulous concept, or ancient advice for life. Wisdom is draped in Nazarene flesh. Wisdom is the Ancient of Days. And now, by the gospel of grace, Jesus is our wisdom, and our righteousness, and our sanctification.

Medders summarizes the connections in two concise ideas:

  • Jesus lived the Proverbs for us
  • Jesus lives the Proverbs through us

This has been my understanding all through my Proverbs series, and Medders makes it nice and easy. His full article is well worth reading.

Check it out!

Choose Your Restaurant Wisely

Choosing a restaurant should be a basic human right. Imagine being forced to go to a Chinese restaurant when you were in the mood for sandwiches. Or having to sit and wait when you expected something simple and fast. And woe betide the co-conspirators responsible for my wife’s worst nightmare: eating pizza two evenings in a row.

Trey Ratcliff (2009), Creative Commons

Trey Ratcliff (2009), Creative Commons

Of course food quality isn’t the only factor to consider. We have an industry based on reviewing culinary establishments for presentation, cleanliness, speed, friendliness, and appearance, in addition to taste. My town has hundreds of restaurants within a 10-mile radius, but, on a recent double date, we chose a restaurant more than 20 minutes away because it had received a makeover from the TV show “Restaurant: Impossible.” We had to see what all the fuss was about, and we’re glad we did!

Proverbs 9

Proverbs 9 reminds us that we always have a dining choice. When hunger (for life, fulfillment, advice, or simply “something more”) drives us to seek sustenance and satisfaction, we will look for a good restaurant. Some will find a reputable proprietorship; others will be terribly deceived. Make sure you eat at the right place.

In this chapter, wisdom offers a delightful and nourishing feast (Prov 9:1-6), which is meant to be shared (Prov 9:7-12).  Folly peddles something illegitimate, unsanitary, poisonous (Prov 9:13-18). Since appearances can be terribly deceiving, we must learn how to tell the difference.

Wisdom has built her house;
she has hewn her seven pillars.
She has slaughtered her beasts;
she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
She has sent out her young women to call
from the highest places in the town,
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who lacks sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave your simple ways, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.” (Prov 9:1-6, ESV)

The woman Folly is loud;
she is seductive and knows nothing.
She sits at the door of her house;
she takes a seat on the highest places of the town,
calling to those who pass by,
who are going straight on their way.
“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who lacks sense she says,
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret in pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Prov 9:13-18, ESV)

Next week, I’ll do more interpreting and applying (“What is Wisdom’s feast?”). For now, let’s simply observe comparisons and contrasts.

Comparisons

In many ways, these two feasts share similar features:

  • a hostess (Prov 9:1, 13)
  • a home (Prov 9:1, 14)
  • an invitation to the simple (Prov 9:4, 16)
  • food and drink (Prov 9:2, 17)
  • hubbub at the highest places in town (Prov 9:3, 14)
  • a promise (Prov 9:6, 17)
  • a change in the status of house guests (Prov 9:6, 18)

But don’t get distracted by appearances. Beauty, as they say, is a different matter after you’ve skinned the thing.

Contrasts

When the simple get moving toward the Lord, the scales fall and truth becomes clear. These two feasts couldn’t be any more different:

  • wisdom builds; folly sits (Prov 9:1, 14)
  • wisdom is clever; folly knows nothing (Prov 9:1, 13)
  • wisdom wins loyal servants; folly is loud (Prov 9:3, 13)
  • wisdom lets her food speak for itself; folly seduces and deceives (Prov 9:5, 13, 17)
  • wisdom has meat with wine and bread; folly has but stolen water and secret bread (Prov 9:2, 5, 17)
  • wisdom prepares for important guests; folly grabs whoever happens to pass by (Prov 9:2-3, 15)
  • wisdom works with a team; folly takes a seat (Prov 9:3, 14)
  • wisdom makes her food; folly steals her food (Prov 9:5, 17)
  • wisdom promotes life change; folly promises secret pleasure (Prov 9:6, 17)
  • wisdom’s guests gain insight; folly’s visitors don’t know what is happening to them (Prov 9:6, 18)
  • wisdom’s visitors live; folly’s guests die (Prov 9:6, 18)

Two people see the same pornographic advertisement; one is turned off, and the other is turned on. Two investors discover the same questionable loophole; one sees loss, and the other sees gain. Two spouses experience the same set of conflicts; one sees a chance to deepen intimacy, and the other looks for a permanent way out.

These things should not surprise us. Some people make themselves sick on cotton candy; others know to hold out for the rib eye and Merlot. Which are you?