Pearls From Proverbs

Irvin Himmel
Decatur, Alabama

Preparation And Priorities

Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house (Prov. 24:27).

The advice of this verse is expressed in terms of rural life. "Everything done in its proper order' seems to be the theme" (George Kufeldt). The lesson can be applied in a modern setting.

Building A House

The word "house" (Heb. bayith) is used in a number of ways in the Old Testament. Frequently, it "denotes a fixed, established structure made from some kind of material." Also, it is "used of those who live in a house, i.e., a 'household'" (Nelson's Dictionary of O.T. Words).

This proverb may refer to either to building a dwelling or to building a family. Delitzsch says it applies to "not only the building and setting in order of a convenient dwelling, but also the bringing home of a housewife and the whole setting up of a household."

Let us study the verse with both these ideas in mind. In many cases the building of a dwelling house is closely connected with the building of a family.


The proverb speaks of preparing one's work and getting his field ready before building his house. No one is ready to build a house until certain arrangements have been made.

Preparation For A Dwelling

The following are among the necessary steps in anticipation of building a material house:

(1) Select a suitable location. A house on a hill cannot be hid. A house in a low spot may be flooded with heavy rains fall.

(2) Provide a plan. The size of the house must be determined, the layout drawn, the specifications outlined, and the design thought out.

(3) Consider the cost. Materials and labor will be required. Resources are essential. If one lacks the money, or else does not make satisfactory financial arrangements, he may be humiliated to see construction brought to a standstill after the house has been started (Lk. 14:28-30).

(4) Obtain the materials. Houses are not built of dreams and air. The availability of desired materials is a factor to consider.

(5) Lay a good foundation. It is a waste to put a good house on a flimsy foundation. Read Matthew 7:24-27.

Preparation For A Household

The following are among the steps which should be taken in anticipation of building a family:

(1) Lay the groundwork of a well-ordered life. "As, in a rural economy, well-worked fields justify and nourish the farmhouse, so a well-ordered life (in things material and immaterial) should be established before marriage" (Derek Kidner). The life that centers in serving God is well-ordered.

(2) Make financial provision. "It simply is not true that two can live as cheaply as one. Living on love is a time-tested way of destroying love, and installment buying follows close behind" (Andrew W. Blackwood, Jr.)

(3) Carefully choose a marriage partner. God ordained the marriage relationship, but a couple who fall in love may not be ready to marry within the next half-hour!

(4) Consider the responsibilities. Parenthood places one is a position of having serious decisions to make and duties to perform. Rearing children is no easy task.

(5) Plan to succeed. A marriage should never be entered on a trial basis. Be aware of the causes of wrecked homes and determine to build on a solid foundation. Don't plan to build a family unless you intend to make it one of the most important aspects of your life.


An important rule in life is to put first things first. The proverb suggests this principle. First give attention to the field which produces one's living, then turn attention to building. This is good business advice. Provide the resources before building what will require resources. To a farmer, putting the land in good order before erecting a house is sound economics.

Sometimes a younger person, at the beginning of a career, desires to be where only years of dedicated service will permit. Hard work is not included in the list of priorities which some have set for themselves. They want the promised land without going through the wilderness.

Guardian of Truth XXX: 23, p. 716
December 4, 1986