We now come to the last of introductory or preliminary passages before the listing of individual proverbs. We have two feminine personifications- Wisdom and Folly.
Caught in between is the simpleton- a personification of all flesh. Do we grow up to life in maturity or do we fall into destructive traps?
There is one more type here and that is the scoffer or the mocker. This is a tough one. The insinuation of verses 7-8 is that it is a waste of time to correct or reprove a scoffer. In fact, if you proceed to train a scoffer- you will suffer abuse.
So how are we to discern when a person is considered a mocker or scoffer? I find the same dilemma when I consider Jesus's command to not cast pearls before swine in the Sermon on the Mount. At what point is a person unclean?
First of all- discernment is one of the benefits of pursuing godly wisdom. So as we gather experience and wisdom we begin to acquire a skill whereby we confidently choose when to finally withdraw from the scoffer.
Secondly, we have to trust God's regenerative power and grace here as well. I have to trust that even if I choose wrong, God will not lose any who He has chosen to redeem.
Finally, we need to fast and pray- especially if the mocker or scoffer is found to be a loved one or a child. Haven't we all seen those who seem to be defiant almost from birth. These types are NOT honest questioners- they are NOT open. They are NOT reasonable. Always dark- hard- cynical- jaded- abusive. Not an open wayward soul, but one bent on destruction. At some point, all we can do is withdraw and pray- PLEAD with God to overcome the hardened resistance and rebellion. The danger in continuing to present the gospel claims of Christ to this individual is that they become more resistant- more callous- with every rejection. It is more loving to back away and hope the gospel resistance is finally subdued by Christ in a supernatural way. Often though- the last chance is fairly drastic. As you pray- you watch their very world crumble- and you know that there will be a small flicker of hope- but at some point the rejection becomes permanent and the end is tragic. But we should leave the condemnation to God alone.
Let's go back to the average simpleton again (all of us, especially me). Lady Wisdom calling and the Woman Folly calling.... and which way will he go?
Look at the parallel pleads:
Lady Wisdom: 'Come and eat my bread and drink my wine'.
Woman Folly: 'Stolen water is sweet and secret bread is pleasant' .
May we pause here and remember the true bread and wine. Who do you want to dine with?