The advice the father gives his son in Proverbs 1:8-9:18 is basically this: Get a good wife, and the best wife is wisdom!
Because the relationship between men and women is so basic to human existence, the Bible often draws on marital imagery to make a spiritual point. In the New Testament, for example, the marriage of a man and a woman is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph. 5:22-33). Here in Proverbs 1:20-33, the wisdom of God is portrayed as a woman in search of an intimate relationship.
And according to verses 20-21, she’s not particularly subtle about it:
Wisdom calls aloud in the street,
she raises her voice in the public squares;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out,
in the gateways of the city she makes her speech:
What’s also interesting is that she’s not particularly choosy. Or rather, that she seems interested in the “wrong” kind of men. In verse 22 she asks:
How long will you simple ones love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
Just as marriage is an intimate relationship, so is the possession of wisdom. According to verse 23:
If you had responded to my rebuke,
I would have poured out my heart to you
and made my thoughts known to you.
But simpletons, mockers, and fools are so dumb that they reject wisdom’ offer of love. And as we all know, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. According to verses 24-31:
But since you rejected me when I called
and no one gave heed when I stretched out my hand,
since you ignored all my advice
and would not accept my rebuke,
I in turn will laugh at your disaster;
I will mock when calamity overtakes you —
when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster sweeps over you like a whirlwind,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
Then they will call to me but I will not answer;
they will look for me but will not find me.
Since they hated knowledge
and did not choose to fear the Lord,
since they would not accept my advice
and spurned my rebuke,
they will eat the fruit of their ways
and be filled with the fruit of their schemes.
This is not a gentle portrait of wisdom. But then again, wisdom is the skill for living well. And that skill requires the knowledge of cause and effect. If you do good, you will do well. But if you do bad, you will come to a bad end. According to verses 32-33:
For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;
but whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.
In the end, this picture of wisdom as a woman is really a picture of God in search of sinners to save. He offers a marriage of the good life, now and throughout eternity. Do we say yes?