This sermon builds on the bible text as found in Proverbs 24.3,4 (NKJV) and is titled Building with wisdom.
When one looks at the various words possible for this verse, we can assume that it would be possible to translate the verses in different ways to make them say different but similar truths. Truths that could be applied to different aspects of our lives.
And this is what I propose myself to do today: look at these verses and apply them to three different aspects of our existence and propose therefore one possible translation for each of them. Translations that will make use of the different synonyms for the hebrew words as we have them here.
Explanation in the physical, the visible realm: the building of God’s church
Neh 10:39 For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the grain, of the new wine and the oil, to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are, where the priests who minister and the gatekeepers and the singers are; and we will not neglect the house of our God.
Mathew Henry: What we are recommended here to have the best influence on external prosperity is wisdom, intelligence and knowledge; i. e. piety to God (because it is true wisdom) and prudence in the management of our external affairs. Those who manage their affairs with wisdom and fairness, who are diligent in the use of legal means to increase what they have, spending little for luxury but spending for charity, are in good disposition to have their stores, warehouses, rooms, filled with all the precious and pleasing riches, precious because obtained.
The best investment is always that which is made with wisdom and understanding; it is that which brings to the house of God gifts for building; it is that which invests in the LORD. To have wisdom and intelligence is to know that in God alone lies what is truly beautiful, pleasing and precious.
“It is through wisdom that construction is established, and through intelligence that it becomes solid. It is through knowledge that the rooms abound in what is truly valuable and pleasing.”
Explanation in the field of the human soul: we talk about our innermost, about what we are made of.
Pro 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands.
Why the woman? Because she is responsible for the education of young children: to transmit to them the important values of life and religion.
Rabbi. Elazar said,”Every house in which the words of the Torah are not heard in the evening will ultimately be burned. (Rodkinson, The babylonian Talmud, p. 277)
Here it is both the father and mother who have this responsibility.
The Word of God is the bearer of wealth and wisdom that makes the human being build himself on a secure basis when he allows the Word to enter into him. The mother builds her child and family by educating her children through the values found in the Bible. And the father of the family reinforces it all through family worship and religious education.
It is of paramount importance that both the mother and the father respect each other’s roles. Neither the mother, nor the father should do it all. The husband, after all, is the house-band: he is the one responsible to make the house-hold!
So fathers, take up your role. Be courageous and don’t leave it all to your wife when it comes to family worship. And sisters, leave that role to your husband. They may not always do things the way you would want them to be done, but it is not your role to be the house-band! Your role, as a mother, is to be the modeler of the children’s character. You are not the priest of the household.
Now, since we have so many single parents in our churches – and many a times it is single mothers – a double burden falls on you. For you are be default the priest of your household. Be courageous and build your family with what precious and prized spiritual goods that God has bestowed you with. God himself will act as your house-band.
Speaking now on a more personal level:
Matthew Henry: “Some people think that this text should be understood primarily as speaking of spiritual riches. Through knowledge, the chambers of the soul are filled with graces and comfort coming from the Holy Spirit, these precious and pleasing riches; for the Spirit, by enlightening the mind, accomplishes all his other operations on the soul, on the inner being.”
Our inner being is also built, either with gold – precious things or with straw – worthless things.
1Co 3.11-13 “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.”
The fire of adversity, persecution, trial and temptation always tests our spiritual construction. If it is with the precious things of God that we build ourselves, we will resist. But if it is with things without real values, those of this sinful world that we build ourselves, the trials of temptation and hardship will make us abandon God: for our spiritual construction was not strong enough to resist.
The eternal values we can count on are those that come from God. God gives humanity values for all of us to live in peace and happiness. God gives us two foundations on which our character must be built: love your God and love your neighbour.
What is most valuable is knowing God. And knowing God is having a loving relationship with Him. The beginning of wisdom is to have great respect and love for God.
So wether we speak of building our family or building ourselves as a person, we can suggest this translation for our text:
“It is through wisdom that the family is built, it is through the understanding of things that it is established. It is through knowledge that the inner being becomes filled with all that has value and is delightful.”
Explanation in the field of social/religious values: what makes the Church valuable
Matthew 13:52 Then [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old.”
Being educated concerning the kingdom of heaven makes us a treasure trove of riches. From this treasure we take out things to give to others: good things, whether new or old.
Pro 9:1 Wisdom has built her house, and has hewn out her seven pillars.
Wisdom, true knowledge, makes it possible to put in place the foundations on which the Church can then be built. If we build on rock, on Christ, then the foundation is true and solid. Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep thecommandments of God and the faith of Jesus. [Rev 14.12] Jesus’ witness, faith, fidelity, love, perseverance, self-sacrificing and generosity are at the foundation of the kingdom of heaven and are the seven pillars of God’s house.
6- self-sacrificing and
God’s church, if it is built on the true and immutable witness of Jesus – God the Son; if it is built in the knowledge and love of the One who gave his life for it; if it remains faithful to the Word and the commandment, then its greatest riches will be Jesus himself!
Such a church, such a spiritual family of God’s children, has nothing to fear from this sinful world. Such a church will endure, even under the most fearsome adversity.
And so we can write our proverbial text today, expressing this reality, with the following words:
“It is through wisdom that the Temple, the Church, the spiritual house of God is built and continues to exist, it is through intelligence, the understanding of things that it remains firm and stable. It is through knowledge that all parts (of the Church) become filled with the One who is sweet and precious: Jesus”
God is the builder:
Jer 10:12 He created the earth by his power, He founded the world by his wisdom, He stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
God’s work is not random. God has a plan and he uses his wisdom to accomplish it. God has a plan for each and every one of us – our life with Him is built according to the plan of our salvation. God does not play dice with us!
Zac 4:6 This is the word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying,”It is not by power or by force, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
Even though the strength of our hands helps to build the Church, whether it is the physical building or the family of God’s children, it is not so much through our strength that the construction takes shape and becomes beautiful and filled with all that is splendid and pleasing. It is through the Spirit of God that what is beautiful, pure and good is built up to become a secure place with solid foundations.
Whether it is our personal life, our couple or our family, whether it is some brother or sister in the Church, whether it is the church as a body built-up and equipped for mission, or whether it is the physical building where we go to meet with the Lord – God is the architect and the builder. And his work is perfect!
Here is the perseverance of the saints, who build themselves in the Lord, who follow the instructions of God’s Spirit who have genuine love for Jesus and live faithfully with Him.
May this be our personal goal for this week.