Chapter nine closes the first section of Proverbs, with its emphasis on finding, gaining, and heeding wisdom. In Proverbs 9:1-6, wisdom is personified as a woman preparing for a dinner party. She has created a meal, set the table, and sent out the invitations. Her special guests are the naïve, who desperately need the knowledge and understanding she offers. In one of the first major distinctions between the wise and foolish person, Solomon noted that a wise person receives instruction, whereas a fool does not (Proverbs 9:7-9). In fact, it is often better to not even try to correct a fool, because he will mock and abuse the would-be helper. A wise person, on the other hand, will use the instruction to become wiser.
Proverbs 9:10 is the matching bookend to Proverbs 1:7 for this opening section of the book. Solomon has already described the “fear of the LORD” as rejecting evil, and in Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 9:10, he wrote that this proper fear of the LORD is required to obtain true knowledge and wisdom. This God-given wisdom can add years to a person’s life but the one who mocks God’s wisdom pays for it (Proverbs 9:11-12).
Just as Wisdom has been personified as a woman in the past few chapters, this chapter closes by personifying Folly as well. Like Wisdom, Folly also stands and calls for followers. In fact, Folly’s words in Proverbs 9:16 are identical to Wisdom’s call in Proverbs 9:4. Foolishness often looks like Wisdom on the surface, but those who reject Wisdom for Folly’s called “do not realize that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of the grave.”