Bedrock

The grind of domestic disharmony can be the most distressing of all. After all, home should be a place of rest and safety, a refuge from the stresses and dangers of the world. For many, however, home is a battlefield where the most intense struggles of the day take place.

As we consider possible remedies for this daily grind, we turn to the wise men of Israel, who described three essential ingredients that turn a house into a home. Hopefully, the patriarch and matriarch, together, establish their union on this foundation, starting from the first day of marriage, and then build their household and family upon them.

Read Proverbs 24:3–4 again. We’ll examine one of the three elements on each of the next three days.

1. By wisdom a house is built.

The Hebrew verb hakam, “to be wise,” and its derivatives are the most commonly used terms denoting intelligence. This kind of wisdom refers to perception with discernment. The original Hebrew word emphasizes accuracy as well as the ability to sense what is beneath the surface. Wisdom refuses to skate across the surface and ignore what is deep within: wisdom penetrates. This kind of wisdom also represents a manner of thinking and attitude that results in prudent, sensible living.

This variety of wisdom, however, goes beyond mere reasonableness and sensibility. As one commentator put it, “The wisdom of the [Old Testament], however, is quite distinct from other ancient world views. . . . Reflected in [Old Testament] wisdom is the teaching of a personal God who is holy and just and who expects those who know him to exhibit his character in the many practical affairs of life.”1 This is a crucial distinction! A household is to be built on obedience to God in every practical human experience of life. A household is to be built upon Dad’s and Mom’s decision to have their actions fit into the plan of God.

If we want to think of a house as a structure, this variety of wisdom is bedrock. If the husband and wife do not first establish their marriage on a commitment to know God personally and to translate their relationship with Him into practical living, their family and their household will not be stable.

Very early in our marriage, my wife, Cynthia, and I made a commitment to one another. In a very solemn moment in tiny apartment #9 on the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary, we mutually agreed, “Whatever the Bible says, we will do.” If ever we have a disagreement, we consult the Scriptures not as a means of coercing one another, but in a spirit of seeking God’s mind—as we allow the Word of God to become our tiebreaker.

Our marriage is far from perfect, but we have a reasonably good partnership. Our household with our four children was not without significant problems at times, but this commitment—I am convinced—saved our home from self-destruction and gave our children a stable platform from which to launch their own lives.

  1. Louis Goldberg, “647 hakam,” in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr. and Bruce K. Waltke, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 283.

From Living the Proverbs by Charles R. Swindoll, copyright © 2012. Reprinted by permission of Worthy Inspired., an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Doing Right