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An Invitation to Life and an Invitation to Death
Proverbs 9:16-17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
And to him who is in want of heart she says,
17 “Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
Whoever is simple, let him turn in here: The simple (Heb. pethi) referred to hear are the inexperienced, the lowly, humble of God’s people. The simpleminded foolish woman’s asking these ones of little education, who were scorned and disdained by the elite to her house, to share a feast with her. Simply put, the simple (inexperienced; lacking good sense) are invited to the feast, because of the fact that they are inexperienced and naïve, which the simpleminded foolish woman is using to her advantage. This same invitation is found in 9:4-6, where Lady Wisdom is seeking to make wise these inexperienced ones.
And to him who is in want of heart she says: An inexperienced person is newly learning the ways of life. Because he is inexperienced, this one may be in want of heart, as Solomon expresses it. The Hebrew (chaser leb) is rendered (interpreted) as “lacks sense” in other translations. (ESV, LEB, CSB) Again, this is an inexperienced person, who is lacking good sense and wisdom, lacking good judgment or discernment in that they are newly learning the ways of life and while Lady wisdom wants them to learn the ways of wisdom, the simpleminded foolish woman has nothing but evil intentions toward them.
“Stolen water is sweet: This reference to stolen water is sexual in nature just like back in Proverbs 5:15 where water was used as warning against committing adultery: “Drink water from your own cistern [have sexual relation with your own wife only], flowing water from your own well.” Here to water is being used to mean sexual relations that are forbidden and so they must be kept in secret.
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant: Here bread [food] eaten in secret is a reference back to the criminal acts or conspiracies that can be a temptation to young men, who are seeking the easy way to get money, as described in Proverbs 1:11-14; 4:14-17; and 6:12-15.
Lady Wisdom offers the invitation “Whoever is simple, let him turn here.” (vs. 4) The simpleminded foolish woman offers the invitation “Whoever is simple, may he turn here!” (vs. 16) The invitations are quite different though. Notice that the Lady Wisdom is inviting those lacking wisdom and understanding, to a feast of wine, meat, and bread. Her offer is to give them wisdom and understanding from the only true God, leading to life. The simpleminded foolish woman, on the other hand, is not asking these simple ones to an improved life, but to a path leading to death. The simpleminded foolish woman is a loose woman seeking victims, by seductively offering them a good time.
 I.e. lacking good sense