The Value of Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge
1. This is the 20th of 30 wise sayings in this section of Proverbs.
2. This wise saying deals with the value of wisdom—and understanding and knowledge.
3. It also deals with the subject of accumulating wealth—and puts it in a very positive light, which hasn’t always been the case in Proverbs.
How a House is Built: Through Wisdom
A. The BUILDING of a house
1. The words speak of a literal house – a dwelling place for a family or an individual.
a. But as we look at this theme, it seems that Solomon may have had MORE in mind than simply building a house.
b. What he says here also applies to building a family (also called a house)—or building a business, a church, a country, or even a life.
2. Build: To build; to make; to set up; to erect; to construct; OR it can mean to rebuild or repair.
a. Gen. 8:20 – Noah “built” an altar unto the Lord.
b. Num. 13:22 – used of the building of the city of Hebron.
c. Gen.33:17 – Jacob built a house.
3. In Proverbs 24:3
a. It can mean to build a new house from scratch.
b. But keep in mind, it may also refer to repairing or restoring an old house and improving it. (This old house… with major improvements made.)
c. Thus, it is not known for sure whether Solomon had in mind the original construction OR the ongoing upkeep.
d. Perhaps he used an ambiguous term on purpose to cover both bases… so that the proverb could be applied to both situations.
e. What he says is certainly TRUE of both situations.
4. Solomon is telling his sons HOW this takes place.
a. Some of his sons might be off on their own and building a new house to start their family; other sons might buy an older home and fix it up.
b. Remember that one son might expect to take over the palace. And as splendid as that palace was, in time, like all structures, it would need repair.
5. Living in a cursed earth as we do, homes and dwellings need constant attention. There is no end to the repairs and upkeep that they require.
B. The building of a house BY WISDOM
1. Solomon states that WISDOM is required in building a house and/or keeping it in good shape… keeping up with the repairs…
2. You need wisdom to BUILD a house.
a. Solomon knew that first hand.
• I Chron. 28:11-12 – God Himself gave the construction plans for the Temple to Solomon’s father, David.
• The workers to were instructed to follow God’s blueprint precisely—without cutting corners.
• And this Temple was exceedingly expensive and difficult to build.
• God in His wisdom had a purpose for every detail.
• Solomon was involved in many construction projects (probably too many). Construction was important to him.
• Hence, he gives his sons a warning to use wisdom in building a house.
b. Wisdom is needed in construction. That’s one of the reasons why we have so many building codes: because not everyone uses wisdom in building structures.
• Some men might take the easiest and the cheapest method—which often results in an unsafe structure.
• Some men might build a house, not knowing HOW to build, and make some serious errors which could cause the thing to collapse.
• In Solomon’s day, most houses were built WITHOUT any regulations or inspections.
• It was up to the builder to build properly. In many cases, that meant the owner.
c. Solomon’s warning is clear: use wisdom!
• Don’t use cheap materials that won’t last.
• Don’t cut corners to save a dime—especially if it affects the main structure itself.
3. You need wisdom in the UPKEEP of a house too.
a. Failing to maintain a house can lead to a disaster.
b. Only a fool would fail to maintain a house—especially the house that he and his family live in!
c. Prov. 14:1 – Here we see the same word for “build” used.
• The contrast is obvious: a house is either in the process of being built up OR it is being torn down and falling into disrepair.
• In this Proverb, the author seems to be using a literal house (dwelling) to represent the family – those who dwell in the house. (House is sometimes used for both.)
• Thus, what is said here applies to both – the house in the sense of the structure, and the house – the family.
• The contrast is also between wisdom and folly.
• The wise woman is constantly building up the house… the structure (This seems to speak of upkeep and repairs.)
• The foolish woman is tearing it down.
» Tear down: to pull down, to break through, to overthrow, to destroy.
» I think it unlikely that he meant a woman was taking a hammer to her house and ruining it.
» Rather, she ruins it through the folly of neglect… not taking care of it… letting it fall into disrepair.
» As a result, it loses its beauty, its strength, and its value.
d. Wisdom maintains a house; folly lets it fall into disrepair.
• Wisdom says spend the money to get rid of the termites; folly says, “don’t worry about it.”
• Wisdom says, take the time to keep the house painted so that the wood doesn’t rot. Folly says, “I’ll worry about rotten wood when it rots.”
• Wisdom says, “Maintain your property for the sake of your testimony.” Folly says, “Who cares what the neighbors think.”
• Prov. 24:30-31 – Later Solomon speaks again of the fool who does not maintain his property.
How a House is Established: Through Understanding
1. Established: To be firm; be stable; be established; made secure; .made ready; cause to stand in an upright position,
a. This term is quite similar in meaning to building or repair.
b. The difference is that this term speaks of the result.
• Building and repairs are the actual construction and maintenance WORK to be done on the structure.
• Established seems to hint more of the finished product: a house that is safe, secure, and upright—still standing!
c. A man may build a house through dishonesty but he cannot establish it that way—for its foundation is rotten. (M. Henry)
2. The house is established through UNDERSTANDING: intelligence, insight, skill, reasoning, discernment.
a. The fact that the house is safe, secure, and still standing didn’t happen by accident or luck.
b. It was through understanding… skill… and insight.
c. It takes planning, effort, thought, skill, and understanding to maintain a house.
d. It requires non-stop maintenance… planning and work.
e. You can’t just build a house (or bring kids into the world; or start a business, a school, or a church) and expect that it will run itself… maintain itself and stay in good shape.
f. TO be established, it requires ongoing effort, skill, wisdom, and discernment.
How a House is Filled with Valuable Items: By Knowledge
1. Once the house is built and while it is being maintained, it also needs to be furnished.
2. Solomon states that by KNOWLEDGE all the rooms of this house will be filled with beautiful and valuable possessions.
3. Often, the Bible warns against accumulating wealth.
a. Those warnings are not so much against possessing wealth, but the warnings are against wealth possessing YOU (or me).
b. Material possessions are never spoken of as evil in the Scriptures. God made everything.
c. The warning is against LOVING them… hoarding them… being selfish with them… making idols out of them.
d. Material possessions are themselves neutral. The problem is our heart attitude towards them.
e. Because of the many warnings, I think some believers look suspiciously at a brother who may be wealthy—and that is wrong!
4. Here Solomon states that a house is filled with valuable treasures not by greed, dishonesty, and avarice, but rather by wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
a. These possessions are seen in a good light because they were obtained through honest work, labor, accompanied by wisdom and knowledge.
b. Proverbs 12:27 says that the substance of a diligent man is precious. (same term as in 24:4)
c. Prov. 21:20 – “There is treasure to be desired and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man spendeth it up.”
d. Because he is wise, he takes care of his house, and he doesn’t waste his money as the fool does. He is diligent and thrifty. That is wisdom.
e. Having a nicely built, well maintained house full of fine things CAN be the result of wisdom and discernment.
f. The man whose property is dilapidated and falling apart is mentioned later on in this chapter by way of contrast. That was the result of laziness and folly.
g. Here the well maintained property full of “all precious and pleasant riches” is the result of wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. The contrast is obvious.
h. When you see someone with a beautiful, well constructed, well furnished house, don’t assume that they have it because they are dishonest and greedy. That MIGHT be the case. But it also might be that they are hard workers, and have wisdom, understanding, and knowledge—all of which are good.
i. Instead of envying them, we should emulate their wisdom, understanding, and knowledge.
a. What Solomon says here is to be interpreted the way to build, maintain, and furnish a physical house.
b. But what he says about a house has many more applications.
c. In fact, it is also true of our LIVES!
• Jesus used the metaphor of building a house on either sand or a rock to describe one’s life.
• Paul also likened a Christian’s service to building a structure on a foundation—and wisdom needed to use good building materials.
• As believers today, our lives will also be built up (edified spiritually) by applying godly wisdom from appropriate portions of God’s Word.
• Our lives will be established (strengthened; made firm) through understanding. Paul prayed for spiritual understanding for the saints. We need it!
• Our lives can also be furnished unto every good work through knowledge. Therefore we should be growing in grace and in the KNOWLEDGE of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our goal ought to be that we might KNOW Him and the power of His resurrection.
• This will fill our lives with the beauty of the Lord—and the pleasant and precious riches that are ours in Christ will be manifested in our daily walk.
• Growing in the knowledge of Christ, we become spiritually prosperous.