Up to this point we have only had limited information upon which to examine Folly's call to us. We have had to use our understanding and insight to see that such a call is detrimental to us. But when we come to verse 16 of this passage we no longer have the slightest doubt that the call to foolishness is a call to wicked, sinful choices and to a life embracing deception and lies.
"Stolen water is sweet." This is the statement that Folly offers to us. This is her advice to those seeking to make their paths straight in life. This phrase is actually saying to us that stolen water is sweeter than water that you have by normal legal means. We are being told that there is something about immoral, illegal behavior that makes the water taste just better than it normally does. The quest of stealing it adds something - maybe a sense of adventure and risk - that just drinking your own water does not provide.
There is a biblical allusion here that Keil and Delitzsch offer that is fascinating to me. A passage in Proverbs chapter 5 is mentioned where we are told to "Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well." (Proverbs 5:15). What is counselled here is that drinking stolen water or water that is NOT from your own spring or well - is compared to adultery. If that is the case here in Proverbs chapter 9, then this passage explodes with meaning - and warning. Folly will encourge you to drink sexually from a fountain other than that of your own marriage. Adultery and fornication are being encouraged. Steal a drink from your neighbor's marriage - or from an unmarried woman's life - that kind of sex is far more sweet than being faithful to your own marriage. This is wicked counsel of the worst order! Whether or not this refers to stealing water - or adultery and fornication - either way, Folly is out to destroy us.
The second thing she says to us is that ". . . bread eaten in secret is pleasant." Here again Follly is saying to us that we need to be deceptive. Simply eating bread with family or friends is not enough. We need to be eating bread in secret - which intimates that we are doing something that necessitates hiding from others. Anyone with an eating or drinking problem will tell you that when you begin to hide your eating or drinking from others and do it secretly - you've got a serious problem. When I sneak a cookie - or buy some kind of food I know I shouldn't be eating - it is amazing how often I eat this food away from the sight of family - who lovingly would warn me that eating that way is not the healthiest choice for me.
The sad thing is that Folly is lying to us. She is saying to us that even the water and the food taste different when we sin in eating and drinking it. Normal living, holy living - is a drag - and only people who are boring live that way all the time. Live on the edge - do something out of the ordinary - live for yourself a little. These are the messages of the fool - and they are heard and heeded by other fools.
Amazingly - the truth is that God sees you even when you drink your stolen water - when you commit adultery in secret - or when you eat your bread hidden from the sight of others. God sees - and He will eventually expose you and show your folly. It is far better to live in open obedience - than to listen to lies that secret sin is better. This, though, is something about which we must absolutely warn our children. These lies WILL come to them and it would be much to their benefit to be able to recognize them as lies when they arrive. A wise father will take these things to heart and will take the time to faithfully teach his children to avoid them.