Can we just focus on the first half of this verse and quietly skip the second?
Sigh. You and I know that’s not how it works with God’s Word.
He wants us to embrace the whole of it—the good news and the seemingly bad news. Because when we put our trust in Him? It’s always good news.
The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one
tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman… Proverbs 14:1
Wise means so much more than being intelligent or educated or talented or clever. Wisdom comes from knowing God. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6).
All year long we’ve been unpacking Proverbs and pursuing wisdom. It’s a female noun in Hebrew, chokmoth, paired here with ishshah, meaning “woman, wife, female.” And it’s plural— God applauds not just one wise woman, but “every wise woman” (AMP). In truth, “the wisest of women” (ESV).
That can definitely be you, beloved. Especially if you’re good at construction.
…builds her house,… Proverbs 14:1
Rather than nails and boards and concrete and roofing shingles, this is a home built with our hearts and our minds, through God’s power and God’s Spirit…and God’s wisdom.
In Hebrew, bayith usually means “house,” but in this case it’s “household.” Rather than our physical residence, it’s everyone and everything that makes a house a sanctuary. A safe place. Home.
So, a wise and godly woman “strengthens her family” (NCV) and “makes her home what it should be” (ERV). Not a House Beautiful kind of mansion, or a pretty Pinterest sort of place, but a love-centered, grace-filled, bursting-with-joy, covered-with-peace, don’t-mind-the-dust, kick-off-your-shoes kind of home.
And if you live by yourself in an apartment no bigger than a walk-in closet? It’s still home—your home—where people can be welcomed and God can be honored.
When I embraced the grace of God, I was a single woman with my own little urban fixer-upper. One of the first things I did was hang a really large picture of Jesus in my entrance hall.
A bit much? Maybe.
But interior design wasn’t the point. I wanted the Lord front and center in my life. I needed His loving expression to greet me when I walked in the door and His gentle gaze to send me off to work. I also needed His Word posted on my fridge, on my mirror, and on my walls—to remind me of His grace and to help remake me in His image.
I knew where I’d come from, and I did not want to go back.
…but with her own hands… Proverbs 14:1
Uh-oh. Here comes the word but to prepare us for the rest of the story. The ugly half.
That emphasis on “her own actions” (ERV) means she can’t blame anybody else. She made a mess of things “by her own efforts” (TLB), and did so not with good intentions, but “with her evil works” (WYC).
We’ve seen this. Fact is, a few of us have done this. We had happiness in our grasp, then threw it away, even as people around us whispered, “Fool!”
…the foolish one… Proverbs 14:1
Calling such a woman “unwise” (WYC) may soften the blow, but the fact is, she’s “stupid” (GW). Ouch.
Worse than that, the Hebrew word for “folly,” ivveleth, is also the root of the word for “evil.” A foolish woman isn’t merely careless or thoughtless or perimenopausal. She’s traveling the wrong direction, and dragging her household down with her.
The woman who turns away from God and His wisdom eventually turns her beautiful home into an abandoned ruin. If you’ve lived long enough, you’ve seen this happen—to a family member, a coworker, a friend.
…tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
It’s so hard to watch when ”the home of a foolish woman is destroyed” (ERV). We can shout out warnings, jump up and down, wave our arms, but without God’s goodness to keep her from sinning, “brick by brick” (MSG), she “plucks it down” (JUB) and “picks it to splinters” (VOICE).
Of all the cautionary, don’t-go-there verses in the Bible, this one hits hard because it’s directed at us, dear sisters. We have the power to build up our loved ones, and we also have the means to tear them down.
I can’t bear to end on such a grim note, so let’s circle around to the hopeful start: “Homes are made by the wisdom of women” (GNT).
If we do throw ourselves at God’s mercy, if we do give Him the keys to our hearts and homes, if we do seek His wisdom and ignore the voice of “Sir Fool” (MSG), then we can say with confidence, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Matthew 7:25).
Lord Jesus, we don’t love happy endings simply because they pacify us. We love them because they glorify You. In our homes, in our families, in our circles of influence, help us seek to be wise women, caring for those around us, building up instead of tearing down, serving others rather than serving ourselves.
Now it’s your turn
- What’s one wise thing you could do to build up your home today?
Only 8 verses to go in 2014? Wow. Next month, I’ll have some presents to share—a small way of saying thank you for opening God’s Word with me each week!
Your grateful sister, Liz