The Wise Woman Builds Her House... - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
October 3, 2016

The Wise Woman Builds Her House...

Proverbs 14:1 -- “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.”

How does a wise woman build her house, even in a society where men overtly hold the reins of power as in ancient Israel? 1) Like Ruth and Mary she bears children, knowing that salvation comes from the offspring of women (Genesis 3:15, Ruth 4:11, Luke 1:38, I Timothy 2:15). There is something wrong with those who disdainfully refer to mothers as “breeders.” 2) Like Abigail, a wise woman decisively protects her household from imminent danger, even against the wishes of her foolish husband (I Samuel 25). 3) Like Lydia, a wise woman builds her house by working diligently with her own hands; she is successful at business (Acts 16, see Proverbs 31). 4) Like Leah and Rachel, who despite mutual rivalry and disappointments with husband Jacob, stood with him against their father Laban, knowing that for their new family they had left father and mother (Genesis 31, Psalm 45).

How does a foolish woman pull down her own house? By carelessly, or spitefully, adopting destructive habits that alienate and impoverish her family. She commits adultery with another man -- or woman. She spends money the family does not have, or invests the family fortune foolishly in what she does not understand. She mocks, undercuts, and derides her man, robbing him of confidence and courage. She demands her own way, even with tears and threats, until she gets what she wants. She whispers to her children that she, not their father, really loves them, while she subtly, or not so subtly, undercuts his authority.

Whether it be family, or church, or workplace, or country, people (not just women) can build or pull down. Tearing down a house with one’s own hands requires hard, often angry work, but it is easy to get started: just do what comes naturally, that is, put your own whims and desires first, and when they are thwarted, destroy! Every husband, like every church and workplace, has faults, so in the name of justice a wife can always justify pulling down her house. Building also is hard. It requires daily work, love, and patience with the imperfections of others. The wife who takes the teardown path will bring suffering on herself as well as others, because when a house is torn down everyone loses. But in the prosperity of her household, a wife will find her prosperity, just like the exiled Jews found in Babylon’s prosperity their own. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands,” not just by doing nothing when she should be working, but by tearing things apart with her own hands, feet, and tongue.

- Dr. Bill Edgar, Geneva College Board of Trustees Member and Former President