The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1
Sojourner Truth, whose birth name was Isabella Baumfree, was born a slave in 1797 in Esopus, New York. Though nearly all her children were sold as slaves, she escaped to freedom in 1826 with one daughter and lived with a family who paid the money for her freedom. Instead of allowing an unjust system to keep her family apart, she took legal action to regain her small son Peter—an amazing feat for an African American woman in that day. Knowing she couldn’t raise her children without God’s help, she became a believer in Christ and later changed her name to Sojourner Truth to show that her life was built on the foundation of God’s truth.
King Solomon, the writer of Proverbs 14, declares, “The wise woman builds her house” (v. 1). In contrast, one without wisdom “tears hers down.” This building metaphor shows the wisdom God provides to those willing to listen. How does one build a house with wisdom? By saying “only what is helpful for building others up” (Ephesians 4:29; see also 1 Thessalonians 5:11). How does one tear down? Proverbs 14 gives the answer: “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride” (v. 3).
Sojourner had a “secure fortress” (v. 26) in a turbulent time, thanks to the wisdom of God. You may never have to rescue your children from an injustice. But you can build your house on the same foundation Sojourner did—the wisdom of God.
What foundation is your house established upon? How will you build your house this week?
Father, I need Your wisdom to build a lasting legacy for Your glory.
The “wise woman” of Proverbs 14:1, who “builds her house” rather than tearing it down, finds a fuller description in Proverbs 31:10–31. This “wife of noble character” (v. 10) not only “speaks with wisdom” (v. 26) but manages her household and business affairs with skill and dignity and “opens her arms to the poor and . . . needy” (v. 20). The New Testament women Dorcas and Lydia seem to fit this description in many aspects. Dorcas (or Tabitha) was a disciple who “was always doing good and helping the poor” by making “robes and other clothing.” When she fell sick and died, Peter raised her from the dead (Acts 9:36–42). Lydia was a “dealer in purple cloth” and a “worshiper of God” who opened her home to Paul and his companions (16:13–15, 40). The key characteristic of the wise woman is that she “fears the Lord” (Proverbs 31:30).