Our culture, like every other culture, makes a priority out of valuing and seeking beauty. But wisdom warns us that beauty is a two-edged sword. It can enhance and even provide meaning in our lives but it can also deceive and even destroy us. The questions we need to answer are: how do we seek and use beauty well and how do we recognise and honour true beauty? [Audio | Video | Notes]
For further thought
Readings: 5:1-19 (the cost of adultery/fornication), 6:23-26, 9:13-18 (folly’s attraction), 11:16, 22, 30:18-20 (sexuality is wonderful to understand but the adulteress treats it only as an appetite ‘I have done nothing wrong’)
Beauty can be wonderful and provide meaning in our lives but also needs to be discerned with wisdom. Our physical beauty is fleeting (31:30) and can be a trap (5:3-6). But there is great beauty, pleasure, aesthetic value in wisdom (ch 8)
Wider in the Bible, beauty is built into creation (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) and redemption (Revelation 21:9-22:5). But the beauty of our character (inner beauty) was marred (Genesis 3:7-11) in and so our outer beauty is also now defaced (Genesis 3:17-24).
Q: What kinds of beauty do you enjoy? This could be clothing, well designed cars, holidays near the sea, portrait paintings, moments in sporting events and more
Q: What is the effect of beauty on you and why are there so many types of beauty?
In Proverbs we are warned that beauty of body and beauty of character are not necessarily joined (Proverbs 11:22) and we are asked to discern beauty that leads to life and beauty that leads us away from life. This is done through the parable of folly and wisdom. We are asked to choose which beauty we will love or embrace in our lives.
Q: Why do the Hebrew wisdom writers, without blushing, so highly commend sexual expression in a committed male/female relationship and, in detail, explain the attraction but also the consequence of adulterous relationships? (Chapter 5; 30:18-20)
Q: What are the differences for our lives in embracing the a love for lady wisdom or embracing a love for dame folly?
Proverbs chapter 31:10-31 describes the outcome of a wise life and keeps with the metaphor of a wise wife.
Q: What does this passage teach us about true beauty in this world?