By Pastor Jeff O’Neil 

"Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands" (Proverbs 14:1). 

Scott the commentator remarks, "That a fortune in a wife, is better than a fortunewith a wife." We can add, that a fortune with a wife is a misfortune, but a fortunein a wife is good fortune.

Here again is a verse with the two types of women described and contrasted. And it is obvious to see which is the best to be married to, and which one you should desire to be. It is obvious which ought to describe the Christian woman.

We shall consider three things about the Christian woman from this verse, namely: (1) her attribute; (2) her calling; and (3) her opposite.

An Attribute of the Christian Woman

Our text tells us that she is a "wise woman." That word "wise" means "skillful." She is full of skill as a mother, a wife and a homemaker. She is skillful in building her house because she is wise. Another ingredient in the word is "prudence": "I wisdom dwell with prudence" (Prov 3:12). Prudence speaks of good judgement and sense. It is wisdom in action: "The wise in heart shall be called prudent" (Prov 16:21). So she is prudent in her dealings and management. She is skillful in handling the affairs of home and wise in speech and conversation. "She openeth her mouth with wisdom" (Prov 31:26). She knows that "there is a time to keep silence and a time to speak" (Eccl 3:7). Now, that area of conduct is what women particularly are to be careful in, and even to ask the Lord to put a bridle on their mouths.

Nothing is more demeaning for a husband, than a wife who does the talking for him! And nothing more embarrassing for him than if she is garrulous with her tongue, and indiscreet with her remarks, —over-speaking in spiritual conversations,—or contradicting in discipline at home!

I had a friend, who, if his wife’s tongue became a bit loose in company, and she was on the other side of the room, would silently make a zip motion across his lips to her! So the Christian woman is to have a wise head (prudence), wise hands (skillful) and a wise tongue! Of course this wisdom comes from above, is heavenly, and therefore can be called upon by every woman for employment in her calling as wife and mother. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" (Jas 1:5). The resources are available, so there should be no reluctance or excuse: "For it shall be given liberally."

So a Christian woman is wise in the skill of handling all affairs in the life of the home. She is prudently wise in controlling all aspects of that life and she has the tongue of the wise. Gurnall puts it quaintly: "She has a serpent’s eyes set in a dove’s head." "Be ye… wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" (Mt 10:16).

The Calling of a Christian Woman

Our text says it succinctly: she "buildeth her house." A Christian woman is called to be a builder; a maker; a homemaker. In general, she is not called to be a careerist; a power woman; a co-operation high-flyer, or even a drudge. Notice I said, "in general," for there are bound to be exceptional circumstances where the exception proves the rule! This also does not preclude a single woman from earning a living. But essentially, the wise woman is called to build a home and it is part of her wisdom in recognizing that. And she recognizes that it is a life-long occupation and that ultimately it is by far the most worthwhile occupation.

It is as a homemaker that the Christian woman "buildeth her house." This means that she is to build up, to establish or to rear up her home. Now the scriptures plainly teach that God is the builder of the home: "Except the Lord build the house" (Ps 127:1). But notice He uses builders: "They labour in vain that build it." There are co-workers! God is the Architect, the Designer: He lays the foundations in a Christian marriage; He provides the materials and the strength and wisdom. But He employs workers!

Firstly, of course, the husband is the head of this workforce. He must build on a biblical foundation as "a wise man, which built his house upon a rock" (Mt 7:24). King Ahasuerus made a decree: "every man should bear rule in his own house" (Esth 1:22). God had already ordained that. The man rules as head and priest over his family.

But secondly, it is the woman, who under him, orders its structure; sees to its running; creates a spiritual atmosphere; makes it a haven; a school; an oasis; a little sanctuary in a barren land! If a house has a soul, she is it!!

She is the beating heart that makes every-thing flow. She is the fountain splashing forth love and wisdom that beautifies its interior. It is not new curtains or furniture that makes the home attractive, but her energizing spirit that is the centre of its life and happiness! As the engine is the heart of a car, so her wise and prudent building is the very core of the home-life! And it is because her trust and reliance are upon Christ "in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col 2:3).

She has been taught that any other approach and means of raising a home and family are of no avail. Her wisdom teaches her, that she must build on the foundations God has provided and commanded in His Word! She does not seek to build on the trends of contemporary society with its changing views, values and philosophies of what makes a marriage or a home. She does not listen or heed the pretensions on the television or magazines that advertise their opinions on marriage. No! She wisely builds on foundations that cannot be moved. Her building blocks are not materialism, or gain or keeping up with the Jones’s, but she is skillful in building with spiritual principles, "stone upon stone, line upon line!" She is not content to build with hay, stubble or wood. Only the best is good enough for her. And that best is the standard and pattern that is set out by the wisdom of God in His Word respecting our homes, our relationships and families.

And she builds prudently, with good sense and judgement. Her care and desire are towards her husband and in following his spiritual teaching and guidance. "A prudent wife commands her husband by obeying him" (John Trapp).

Oh the power a wife has over him by a loving obedience! If Christian women only realised this, how influential they would be to their head! Listen to the wise counsel of the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter: "For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, … For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband?" (1 Cor 7:14, 16). "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear" (1 Pet 3:2). What a tremendous influence it can be to observe the power of a sanctified life, wisely living in obedience and submissiveness, by lip and life! Indeed, not only would the husband be influenced, but surely the children as well. Was it not the faith and testimony of Timothy’s mother Eunice, and grandmother Lois, which first lead him to the Lord? (2 Tim 1:5)

Wisdom and prudence are the godly wife’s basic building tools in supporting her husband and guiding her children. But the whole list of her building prowess is found in Proverbs 31. There, her abilities are manifold; her involvement, multiple; and her influence, great! Indeed, she would have no time to go out to work and leave the running of the home.

And we see that the apostle Paul is set on getting the younger women, from the very start, to follow these principles: "I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully" (1 Tim 5:14). And again writing to Titus, he urges him to persuade the older women to "teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Tit 2:4-5).

Notice that they have to be taught and that is the role of the older, more experienced women. They have to be taught to love their husbands. "To love not only from instinct of nature, but from obedience to scripture" says Swinnock.

Now I want you to understand that I am not saying these things from a man’s perspective, but that I am merely trying to divide the Word aright, concerning how wisdom in a Christian woman is more essential in this age than it ever has been.

The Opposite of a Christian Woman 

"The foolish woman plucketh it down with her hands" says our text. The foolish woman sings that song: "I’ll do it my way…" She will not listen to her husband. And worse still, she will not listen to God, but makes her own rules, and builds her house on sand. She is unstable in her ways and affairs, and "every kind of wind blows her down like a loose tile from off the roof" (Gurnall).

What her husband tries to establish, she pulls down. She applies worldly standards in the house that has been dedicated to God! Her very life contradicts all that her husband would want and hope. Instead of a spiritual edifice, she builds a mirage. And in so doing, she is destroying the very means of life and blessing. Her hands which should be skillfully employed, are tearing down the fabric of society. For it is the home that is the basic building block that society is built on.

Now, the word "plucked" means "to throw down." Can you believe it!? Throwing down the very means of blessing to family and neighbours! Where is the wisdom in that? It does not take skill to do that, but absolute foolishness! Now, I won’t spend time on her, but the contrast and comparison should be obvious.


The wise woman is building a household of faith. Oh what glory could be in the Church, if every home was a household of faith, with every father a pastor in his home; and every mother, "a mother in Israel" (Jdg 5:7)! What blessing would come to such homes, even as it did to the house of Obededom, when the Ark (which is a figure of Christ) was taken into the home.

Indeed, the wise woman is also building a temple of God; a house where God is! Back in the past in Greenland, when a stranger knocked on a door, he would ask, "Is God in this house?" and if the answer was, "yes," he would enter. The godly woman’s wisdom makes sure that God rules in her building. Her wisdom shapes all the life of the house so that it is directed to God. Whether eating or drinking, it is unto His glory and praise! She, as the snail, does not go anywhere without the house on her back.

You may say who is sufficient for these things? Well, you are; for God would not have given you this pattern otherwise. This is not a superwoman, but a Christian woman with the wisdom of God.