Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #9 Home Construction

November 2014 Your 50 Favorite Proverbs | Liz Curtis Higgs

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

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

…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

…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

…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

…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.

Proverbs 14:1

Now it’s your turn

  • What’s one wise thing you could do to build up your home today?

Just click Post a Comment below. Can’t wait to see what you share! Your Printable of Proverbs 14:1 is ready to download, and you’ll find all our favorite Proverbs on Pinterest.

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
@LizCurtisHiggs #50Proverbs

BibleGateway Blogger Grid I love being part of (in)courage! I am honored to write for P31 MinistriesTwo Christmas Books by Liz Curtis Higgs
And to celebrate this glorious season…
A story I loved sharing: A Wreath of Snow
A study I loved preparing: The Women of Christmas

30 Responses to Your 50 Favorite Proverbs: #9 Home Construction

  1. Brandi Luiz November 17, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    Bathe it in prayer. Open it to others as a haven of rest, where persons can come to feel loved despite what ugliness is happening in their everyday life.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 18, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Beautiful, Brandi. I often pray over a room before I speak. Now I’m realizing I need to pray over the rooms of our empty nest, so when people walk through the door, they truly feel welcome. THANKS for the nudge!

  2. Cyndee Phelps November 17, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    No matter what the day brings, the door to GOD’s House is open. Pray instead of worrying about things – prayer is always a comfort. I try to remember to ‘Let go & let GOD handle everything’.

  3. Cynthia November 17, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    What’s one wise thing you could do to build up your home today?

    Like the others, the first thing that came to my mind was to pray. Pray for each individual family member every day. I have a special scripture for each one to pray from God’s Word. I’m learning to pray from the Scriptures.

    • Lynn November 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      I love what you you said: Pray! In my devotion today I was reading and it said acronym meaning SAP (Stop And Pray) I thought WOW what a word. Yes you are right we should always pray for others and yes, ourselves. Thanks for sharing I was blessed. Have a wonderful day. Lynn

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      Oh, yes, Cynthia, I love to pray God’s Word aloud! It gives me the courage to ask boldly and the faith to trust His response. Thanks for sharing!

      And Lynn, I read that great devotion too, on! Here’s a link to Wendy Pope’s very practical post:

  4. Jaime November 17, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    As everyone else said, pray. But more than just pray, I also read with my son. He has two Bibles of his own and a superbook app on his nook. He told me he wants to know more about Jesus so he can know Jesus and make Him happy. With a foundation like that, I know my home, as well as my son’s adult home, will be happy and blessed. I thank the Lord for trusting me with such a wonderful child.

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 18, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      So precious, Jaime. To think of planting seeds of truth in that fertile, young soil!

  5. Christina Anderson November 17, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    As a woman who has been married and divorced three times, I am sorry to say that i tore down my home two of the times. I went my own way and didn’t consult God at all. I have learned the hard way to pray for His Perfect Will in my life and not to demand my own way. I am not looking for “esposo numero quatro”. The more I see of single men the more I love my cats!

    • Liz Curtis Higgs November 18, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

      Thanks for your honesty, Christina. You are not alone.

  6. Billie November 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Praying for forgiveness and healing after tearing a few bricks off my house last night. 🙁 I seem to be caught in a cycle I can’t stop. I have just a few years left with my kids at home and want to be the example God intended me to be. Thank God, He knows my heart. The timing of this proverb was perfect. Thank you.

  7. Jan Morton November 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    Oh Lizzie – I’ve been so hoping this Proverb would be included! Thank you! For many years I used this verse as our women’s ministry “go to verse,” and your explanations and etymology helped affirm that choice today.

    Now as a mom to two grown sons and a mother-in-law to their wives, I will tell you that as the mom of boys it’s sometimes a lonely road. You know the saying “a son is a son till he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter the rest of her life.” Well, there’s truth to that little saying…and the Bible confirms: for this cause shall a man LEAVE his father and mother…

    A wise woman (like those you mention above) once told me that it’s the age old problem of two women loving one man…a mama and a wife. So true. And mama needs to back up because if she gets in the middle, the son will choose his wife…and so he should.

    So to build my house I focus on these blessings from my sweet daughters-in-law: 1) they love my boys and are great home builders, and 2) they are the mothers of my grandchildren. Enough said. This Gran Jan knows her place and sometimes when it gets lonely or my “building permit” is wonky…well, I just zip a lip and pray.

    Love to you as always,
    Gran Jan

  8. Linda H November 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

    I want my home to be that safe place, a sanctuary from the world, where God’s love is shown to all who enter. It will take daily prayer to be that woman God chose me to be.
    Love the reminder of this verse. Thank you!!

  9. Elizabeth Hoagland November 17, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Another great post clear out of the ball park and right into my heart. SUCH a great reminder for us all. I loved what one gal said in the comments about tearing a couple of bricks off recently. ha If we were to think that each time we tore the house or spouse down (!!!), that part of our house literally came crumbling down, I believe we’d be better at zipping our lips. My favorite verse related to this is: Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I need that one tattooed in my brain.
    Thanks again for beautiful teaching!!! And how ’bout this snow today????
    Love across town,
    Elizabeth =)

  10. Martha T. November 17, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Tell family members ” I am glad to see you!” at the end of the day when they come home.

  11. Sharon Macri November 17, 2014 at 6:10 pm #

    Pray a hedge of protection around my family, ask God to open my eyes to a need they each may have, and then act on that need.

  12. Lina November 17, 2014 at 7:24 pm #

    Be the peacekeeper in the holiday madness… Try to point out each person’s point of view and why they do what they do. I think it helps keep the anger and hurt feelings at bay. And of course, prayer all the way!!

  13. Lisa E November 17, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

    Such wonderful comments before me! I am a mother of 4. All grown with lives of their own. I want our home to be a place of peace and happiness. I have 2 daughters in law and 2 sons in law. My advice is to pray and never interfere! Make them welcome and wanted in our home. When my boys were young I taught them to cook and clean and ALWAYS be respectful to women. I can tell you my daughters in law love me for this!

  14. Susan Gruener November 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    I could encourage my husband with a sincere compliment about what a good job he does around the house and at our rentals and… And I could also encourage my daughter on what a good job she is doing with our two grandkids, as well as keeping her ‘nose to the grindstone’ of getting her degree online… Our daughter and two wonderful grandkids live with my husband and myself, since the kids’ father passed away. Encouragment is always better than telling people how they’re not doing something correctly…and ‘tearing down house’.
    Thanks for the great reminder Liz!

  15. Lisa November 17, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

    Wow, did I need this one TODAY. Thank you. I read much of it out loud and the complete verse at the end. My daughter (17) asked me to explain “exactly” what it meant so I did just that.
    Again I repeat, I really needed this one today.

  16. Connie November 18, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Something I can do to build up my home: prayer is the obvious but less obvious is realizing that the ordinary, mundane tasks that need to be done- the cooking the wash the cleaning and errands and the million other things that need doing…you know- the stuff we all ” love” to spend our time on… doing them joyfully, setting the example in our homes that it’s specifically these seemingly ordinary tasks that lay the groundwork and form the fabric of our lives. They aren’t just things to get done and out of the way- they are a Holy tasks. I can fortify and build up my family by showing setting an example in the daily ” grind” … And transforming it into Holy ground.

    • Alison November 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

      I agree with you there! housework is naturally something that I would rather just not do, but I know from experience that I do get a sense of worth from when I do actually do it and it does build up my home; making it clean for my boys (including hubby!), even if they don’t recognise it, makes for a satisfied me!!! 🙂

    • Cynthia November 21, 2014 at 8:16 am #

      Connie, I so loved this. Do our housework joyfully!

      I did something I’ve really never done before last Saturday. My daughter has been really busy with work and doing things with my 16 year old granddaughter for volleyball.

      I just went over and cleaned her house. I know how it feels to me when I walk into a clean or a dirty house. My clean house cheers me up and make me feel happy. Sooo. . . the thought for cleaning her house. You know, it was joyful! I did it with excitement and I knew how this would make my daughter and granddaughter feel. I did it for them but I was the one who received the blessing.

  17. Julie Sunne November 18, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Bathe the words I speak to my husband in grace, even more so make my attitude toward him one of love and encouragement (all this with the help of the Holy Spirit of course).

  18. CarolAnne November 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

    This verse is such a great reminder for us all! We’ve all seen what mean words/actions can do. It is amazing just by praying how our attitudes can turn around. So that’s what I do more and more, pray for all my family members (and good friends of the family), and for me, too. Because we also know, if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy ; ) xo

  19. My Info Susan November 18, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    Pray, repent of any wrong doing on my part, forgive and bless the other person.

  20. Decima November 19, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    I have been the woman who turned my back on God and justified my actions by believing God wanted me to “be happy”. I let this blind me to the cost it would entail, not just for me but for those I loved too. Thankfully God’s relentless grace kept pursuing me & I came to the realization His ways are better than mine & His thoughts so much higher than mine. Through this painful process I came to the end of myself & my redemption & restoration story continues. I live in a new home where Jesus reigns & relationships have been restored. His love & grace are evident. I know for a fact that size & location of my physical home does not matter. It is my heart for Him that will give it beauty and make it inviting to others. A place where they too can experience the love & grace of our great God. There are always consequences for our choices but there is no place we can wander away to that God is not waiting for us; waiting to help us find our way “home”.

  21. Penny November 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Wow Liz,

    This post was an amazing wake up call. I too believe in prayer as one of the ways to build up our home. And to try to remember to give thanks each day. We usually say the Lord’s Prayer with our son each night at bedtime and include a prayer for others following that. He now has his own book of scriptures dated back to 1873 that he really enjoys as well. To me those are very special moments in my day.

    thank-you so much for sharing this amazing post….



  22. Alison November 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm #

    Wo, this verse was slap bang truth for me … at the exact right time, too! I read the first verse and thought ‘nope, wise is not me’ – looked at the second part and thought ‘yep, that pretty much sums me up, so where do I go now?’. Then I saw your comment, about the printable version of the verse and thought ‘why on earth would I want to print this verse out?????’ THEN in a split second (this doesn’t generally happen to me), it’s like I actually GOT this verse, I accepted the truth that I have tendencies to be this foolish woman to bring her home down with her own hands, all my doing and man that’s hard to stomach. And THEN I so totally was up for printing this verse out and sticking it somewhere, in the kitchen I thought, then since then I’ve thought it ought to go up in lots of different places … anyway, this verse at this time has literally, I feel, saved me from going down in a hole, a destructive one that comes around and around on a fairly regular basis, any deeper. Although I’ve written a bit here, I’m fairly awestruck and without words as to how I am looking at things differently, definitely not wanting to be that foolish woman any more. It’s opened me up more, I guess there’s a long way to go, which is inevitable on this thing called life, but it’s a start I never thought I’d accept or reach, really. I guess I just need to say that God is awesome. Thank you Liz for standing in the gap, God got me on this one!!!