He That Troubleth His Own House

Mike Willis

Long ago, Solomon observed the impact of one who brings trouble to his own house. "He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise" (Prov. 11:29). There are a number of things implied in this short statement which we need to understand.

Men still can bring trouble to their house by their misconduct. C.H. Toy states that the man who "by incapacity, negligence, or niggardliness, fails to nourish and build up his household will find his resources reduced to nothing" (ICC 238). Keil and Delitzsch wrote, "The proverb has, accordingly in the man who `troubles his own house' (Luth.), a niggard and sordid person in view, one who does not give to his own, particularly to his own servants, a sufficiency of food and of necessary recreation. Far from raising himself by his household arrangement, he shall only inherit wind" (248).

Lawson adds, "A man is a plague to his family, when he is of a domineering and quarrelsome temper, bursting into passion at every trifling omission of his will and pleasure; when by covetousness he oppresses his servants and children with bondage and hard labour, scarcely allowing them to enjoy life; when by prodigality he wastes the bread and portion of his children; when, by his disregard to mercy and justice, he brings the curse of God on himself and his house; when, by irreligion, he neglects the spiritual welfare of his family, and encourages them in evil by a bad example" (Proverbs 220).

Ways In Which A Person Can Trouble His Own House

1. Covetousness. Solomon said, "He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live" (Prov. 15:27). Men who are filled with greed have the ambition of building up an estate so that their house will be established. However, their greedy ways frequently lead to their inheriting the wind.

Achan's greed brought his house to destruction (Josh. 6-7; esp. 7:21). Achan thought that he would make himself and his house more wealthy by stealing. Instead, he caused the whole family to die. Nabal's tight-fisted ways caused him to refuse payment to David for the protection that he provided in the wilderness. Abigail's intervention is all that saved them from David's revenge. Soon thereafter, Nabal died (1 Sam. 25). Nabal's refusal to give David a portion for his protection was motivated by his greediness to have more for himself. Covetous men abuse their family. They deprive their family of companionship while they chase after success and wealth. They deprive their children of some of life's enjoyments by their tight-fisted ways. They deprive their wives of some of life's pleasures. Frequently, they are hoarding up large bank accounts, but refusing to enjoy the blessings of today. Such men create havoc in their home.

2. Wastefulness. "He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich" (Prov 21:17). One who buys things that the family does not need and cannot afford may think that he is making life more pleasant for his family. Instead, he is creating indebtedness that will burden the family for years. Sometimes women are guilty of mismanaging the affairs of the family by charging unnecessary items on their credit cards, until the family is straddled with debt.

3. Uncontrolled anger. "He that is slow to anger is bet-ter than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov 16:32). Some men are guilty of sinful wrath (Gal. 5:20; Eph. 4:26-27) and railing (Eph. 4:31). This wrath may be justified as "disciplining" of children or being "head" of the family. However, their anger creates trouble for the home. Some men abuse their wives by yelling, cursing, beating, and other forms of abuse. Some parents abuse their children the same way. The Bible virtue of self-control (temperance) is absent when anger is so uncontrolled (Gal. 5:23).

Related to this is the atheist's argument that God is not all powerful, or he would intervene when someone makes a wrong choice. The proverbial illustrations that "prove" this are: God cannot make a four-sided triangle; he can't make a square circle; etc. However, all things are possible with God that are in the realm of possibility. His power only relates to what can be done. Such illustrations prove nothing about God because they involve contradictions of terms and are nothing but nonsense. The word "triangle" means a three-sided figure and the word "square" means a four-sided figure with four corners (a circle has no corners). This is to speak absurdities. The terms are mutually exclusive of each other. Nonsense is nonsense even when we talk it about God. None of this has anything to do with the evidence that God could create a universe, create life, calm a storm, turn water to wine, heal the sick, raise the dead, etc. He has all the power he needs.

4. Domineering spirit. A husband sometimes creates havoc in the home by his domineering ways. He abuses the authority that God gave to him as head over the home (Eph. 5:23). His rule is tyrannical and harsh. He treats others in a way that he does not wish to be treated (Matt. 7:12). This engenders a spirit of rebellion in his wife and children. Some-times this "provokes" the children to wrath (Eph. 6:4). The word parorgizomai means "to bring one along to deep-seated anger." You may have seen teen-aged children who are full of deep seated anger created by an abusive father and/or mother.

5. Unsubmissive spirit. A woman must voluntarily yield herself to the leadership of her husband. She is to submit to her husband just as she submits to Christ (Eph. 5:24). Christ does not beat his church into submission; its members voluntarily accept his authority and yield their spirits to his will. In a similar way, the wife must voluntarily submit to her husband's authority. A woman who challenges her husband's authority and refuses to submit to his oversight, troubles her house. The husband and wife are going in opposite directions, creating chaos and confusion. Sometimes this happens in such areas as finances and discipline.

6. Neglect of one's loved ones. Sometimes a person will trouble the house by neglecting those whom he loves. He can become too involved in his work to have time for his wife and children. A wife can be involved in so many volunteer organizations that she neglects her own family. As a result, the family unit crumbles and heartaches and sorrow follow.

7. Fornication (Matt. 19:9). A person may allow his unrestrained desire for sexual gratification to cause him to commit adultery. When he does, he harms his wife. This may lead to a divorce, separating him from his wife and children. The pain his selfishness creates may affect two or three generations. Even when divorce does not occur, the lost confidence and trust are hard to rebuild.

Shall Inherit the Wind.

The phrase to "inherit the wind" means "to come to nothingness." This calls one's attention to the temporal consequences of foolish behavior. We can witness the "inheriting of the wind" in such cases as Achan (Josh. 6-7) and Nabal (1 Sam. 25). We have witnessed the impact that family problems have on the marriages of many couples.

The wasteful become bankrupt. The covetous may be-come rich but have no one with whom to share it. Some end up in divorce courts. Some end up emotionally separated but living under the same roof. Some have troubled children who bring sorrow to their lives. Some have killed the other or committed suicide. Some have no relationship with their family through neglect.

The Fool Shall Serve The Wise

The words "fool" and "wise" have moral overtones. The word fool is from 5'1t@, one "who despises wisdom and discipline" (BDB 17). The word has moral implications and is not merely referring to one who lacks common sense. He is the man who rejects the counsel of God for himself and chooses to walk according to the dictates of his own heart. The wordi27l means "wise." It is used in this text to mean "ethically and religiously" wise; the idiom means "wise of mind." Commenting on this word in their lexicon, Brown, Driver, and Briggs said, "As a wise learner in school of wisdom, he fears God and departs from evil Pr 14:16; is silent Pr 17:28; hearkens to counsel Pr 12:15; hears and increases in learning Pr 1:5; his ear seeketh knowledge Pr 18:15; he receives it Pr 21:11; and stores it up Pr 10:14; his ears hearken to the reproof which giveth life Pr 15:31; and he becomes wiser through it Pr 9:8, 9" (BDB 314-315).

What the proverb emphasizes is that fools do not pros-per in life, as they suppose that they will. Many who thought they had found a shortcut to becoming wealthy are now serving terms in jail. Others are poor, now working for the men who established their business on the principles of justice and righteousness. Those who thought they knew better than God about how to conduct their families go through divorce courts, divide their property, and both live at a lesser level because of their foolish conduct. The wise man is emphasizing to us the temporal benefits of service to God. Truly, living according to God's commandments brings the best temporal life available to man.


Are you "troubling" your family by your sinful behavior? Can you be wise enough to learn from the Scriptures without experiencing for yourself the ill consequences of sinful behavior?

Guardian of Truth XLI: 21 p. 2
November 6, 1997