Like Lady Wisdom, Madame Folly has also prepared a banquet for her guests. Those whom she invites are the same as those to whom Lady Wisdom calls out. “Let all who are simple come to my house!” she says to those who lack judgment (Proverbs 9:16, see Proverbs 9:4).
Her invitation and advice, however, are antithetical to those of Lady Wisdom. While Lady Wisdom offers life (Proverbs 9:6), Madame Folly offers only temporary satisfaction (Proverbs 9:17). What she offers is forbidden—stolen water and food that has to be eaten in secret. This could be a metaphor for the sexual pleasure of adultery, which the writer of Proverbs warned against earlier (Proverbs 2:17; Proverbs 5:15; Proverbs 6:30–35; Proverbs 7:18–19). Such stolen drink and food is sweet and delicious, as long as you don’t think of the consequences.
Once again, keeping an eye firmly on reality, the writer describes those who eat with Madame Folly as being “deep in the realm of the dead” (Proverbs 9:18)—their actions will lead to death.
This is what Madame Folly is inviting her guests to do: live for the moment; enjoy (for that is the only goal); and dismiss consequence, prudence, and discernment.
This section of Proverbs begins with the promise of easy wealth (Proverbs 1:11–14) and is sprinkled throughout with the promise of easy sex. There is no consideration of the consequences beyond the pleasure of the night (Proverbs 7:18–20).
The shipwrecks of lives around us are evidence that many people have been attracted to and accepted Madame Folly’s invitation. Many will probably tell you that given a chance to start over again, they would never have joined her for that meal. On the other hand, none who eat with Lady Wisdom will ever regret eating her food.
Proverbs 9 concludes the section beginning at 1:8, which commends wisdom. What a chapter this is! It puts in stark contrast the benefits of life and understanding versus death and the depths of the grave. All of us are hearing two invitations—one to partake of wisdom and the other of folly. What a privilege it is to eat Lady Wisdom’s food; pray that you will never be enticed by Madame Folly’s poisoned banquet!