Proverbs 24:27

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field: and afterwards build thine house.
– Proverbs 24:27

Verse 27 is a standalone saying. A house is a common figure in Proverbs for a family (Proverbs 11:29; 14:1; 15:27). In general, wisdom teaches forethought, planning, and proper ordering of things in life. So a house is only filled with good things by wisdom (Proverbs 24:3-4).

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Proverbs 24:4

And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
– Proverbs 24:4

This verse completes the saying and the metaphor of house building. A house is not really beautiful and useful until furnished and lived in. God created the world through wisdom and furnished it for the life, learning, flourishing, and joy of man to bring glory to his Creator. We image God and walk in his way when we build through wisdom. Through wisdom we equip our families for this vocation, and wisdom is certainly not only about material possessions. Wealth laid up is symbolic of walking in wisdom (Proverbs 15:6; 21:20).

The word for knowledge means cunning, or understanding. It is one of words in Proverbs under the umbrella of wisdom. It refers to acquired knowledge. It can be used in the negative sense of a lack of knowledge, such as ignorance. The instruction and correction of wisdom gives knowledge (Proverbs 1:4; 2:6). Knowledge acquired is worth more than silver and gold stored (Proverbs 8:10).

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Proverbs 24:3

Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
– Proverbs 24:3

Verses 3-4 form the next saying, which is a metaphor illustrating the positive, constructive power of wisdom. The imagery of wisdom building a house is elsewhere in the Proverbs and it provides an excellent illustration of lasting success (Proverbs 9:1; 14:1). The word for wisdom means skill, like that of a craftsman. This word functions like an umbrella term over other words that are more like components of the whole picture of wisdom. The word for understanding means intelligence, sense, or discernment. The word for builded means to build up and the word for established means to be made firm, or secure. Wisdom begins the building on a sure footing and completes the structure with lasting stability.

This saying also touches upon the ontological realities of vocation within the created cosmos. God has created and established with wisdom (Proverbs 3:19-20; 8:22-31). As image bearers of God, we are to build, or work, with wisdom. It is easy to see then why building, or working, with folly is destructive, because it gives false witness to the Creator, will not be established, and cannot stand. When we work and build with God-fearing wisdom, our work is established and we give faithful witness to the Creator and are walking in his way.

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Proverbs 14:11

The house of the wicked shall be overthrown: but the tabernacle of the upright shall flourish.
– Proverbs 14:11

A house is a structure of some permanency, whereas a tabernacle is a tent. Those figures suggest a subtle point of comparison between life now and the life to come. Regardless of the materials and methods of construction, the house of the wicked will not stand but be overthrown. The wicked man’s house is cursed from within (Proverbs 3:33) and shall ultimately fall (Proverbs 21:12). The upright are not trusting in their tents (Proverbs 11:28). They have wisdom and take the long view knowing that unjust gains are not profitable, but rather damaging (Proverbs 10:2-3).

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Proverbs 9:1

Chapter 9 completes this particular character sketch of wisdom using the motif of a banquet and the juxtaposition of the foolish woman’s banquet. Both characters are making appeals to gain a hearing as they are portrayed as hostesses inviting diners to their feasts. Verses 1-6 picture the feast of the wise woman. Every detail speaks of honor and dignity. It is a noble banquet. Verses 7-12 admonish the simple to receive wisdom and live. The progression of either wisdom or folly is shown. Verses 13-18 describe folly’s banquet. Folly is contrasted with wisdom and folly is depicted as a wicked hostess. She also calls to the simple to come in and the character of her guests is unmasked.

Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars:
– Proverbs 9:1

The previous chapter ended with wisdom among the godhead and the first six verses in chapter 9 return wisdom to the world of men. She is once again among the people of the earth. Here she is a hostess who has prepared her noble house for a feast and invites the simple to come in. Her house is built up or established. The seven pillars have been subjected to various and sundry fanciful interpretations. Seven is the number that often represents completion or fullness. From the context, it indicates her house is complete and fully suited to furnish all guests. In other words, all who come to her house have no need of supplementary provision. Pillars are columns that provide structural support to the roof and can function in an aesthetically pleasing way. The pillars indicate that wisdom’s house is a noble and stately house.

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