Proverbs 11:29

Proverbs 11:29 "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart."
Proverbs 11:29 Bible Church Buffalo NY
It can be easy to read the Bible quickly and draw rapid conclusions simply because of familiar wording.  In the Old Testament, we read a lot of God and idolatry and because we see that context often in the Old Testament, it’s easy to breeze through our reading drawing the rapid but basic conclusion that God hates idolatry.  In the New Testament, we read a lot of Christ and sin and because we see that context often in the New Testament, it’s easy to breeze through our reading drawing the rapid but basic conclusion that Christ came to save sinners.  In the Book of Proverbs, we read a lot of wisdom and foolishness and because we see that context often in Solomon’s writing, it’s easy to breeze through our reading drawing the rapid but basic conclusion that wisdom is better than foolishness.  These general conclusions are true but the Bible offers much more than those basic conclusions.  These general conclusions are important but Scripture offers much deeper insight if we take the time to look past the familiarity of words.  

The familiarity of words in the second half of this proverb is intended to shed light on the uniquely-worded first half of the proverb.  Based on the first eleven chapters of the book, it would be incredibly easy to conclude that Solomon is once again reiterating the truth that wisdom is better than foolishness and that the wise are better than the foolish.  But is that all he is doing in this proverb?  Is that all he is saying, again?  Of course, the foolish will serve the wise!   Of course, the wise will reign over the foolish!  After reading this proverb, we must resist the temptation to hastily draw only that obvious conclusion.  After reading this proverb, we need to ask ourselves what the obvious part of the proverb has to do with the less obvious part of the proverb.  If we are to learn the deeper meaning of the proverb, we need to be discontent on some level with accepting the easy explanation.  If we are to benefit from the depth of Scripture, we need to refuse to move on from a verse or passage until we sincerely contemplate the non-familiar words or themes.    

If we want to experience the power of this Holy Scripture, we must ask ourselves why it connects a person who troubles his house inheriting the wind with a fool serving the wise.  If we want to see the light of Scriptural truth, we need to ask ourselves why these two statements are linked.  What do the two have to do with each other?
 
While we’ve already concluded that the second half of the proverb is obvious when reading it within a book that constantly emphasized wisdom over foolishness, we must look into it further.  If we are to understand the first half of the proverb and ultimately learn from it, we can’t miss the specific context of the obvious second half of the proverb, which is servitude.  “The fool shall be SERVANT to the wise in heart.”  We know that wisdom is better than foolishness but Solomon wants us to know that fools eventually “SHALL,” SERVE the wise in heart.  The Bible is inferring through the familiarity of words that this proverb has to do with POWER, or at least with the desire for POWER.  Foolishness leads to all kinds of bad things but in this proverb, it leads to a strong desire for power and authority and eventually, it ends with a lack of power and authority.  If we take the time to conclude that more obvious truth from the second half of the proverb, we’ll understand the lesson and imagery of the first half of the proverb.

Fools, because they are foolish, want others to serve them.  Fools, because they are foolish, think being the master is easier than being the servant.  Fools, because they lack wisdom, think being the boss is less work than being the employee.  Fools, because they lack understanding, think having a title and a salary position is easier than being a clock puncher.  Fools don’t understand power and the responsibility that comes with it.  Fools don’t understand power and the path to it.  They want it because to them, it looks better and easier.  They want it because to them, it looks more rewarding and more prosperous.  The familiar-worded second half of this proverb sheds light on the uniquely-written first half of this proverb and when we take the time to look at it through that light, the image is unforgettable.  Fathers and mothers as well as sons and daughters should especially pay attention to the image Solomon paints in this proverb.  

Despite all of their efforts to be in power, fools eventually find themselves serving the wise because their foolishness leads to failure.  In the process of pursuing power, a fool brings great trouble upon himself and those around him, which ultimately results in having nothing to show for his efforts to get power.  This is the meaning and picture of the first half of the proverb.  A foolish man longs for power and in the process of pursuing it, TROUBLES HIS HOUSE.  At the end of the day, all of his efforts are not only in vain, they are hurtful to those closest to him.  As a result, a foolish man has nothing to show for his life – he “inherits the wind.”  Solomon uses the wind in this proverb as he uses it in Ecclesiastes 5; it is something without any substance.  You can’t hold the wind.  You can’t see the wind.  You can’t save the wind.  You can’t display the wind.  You can’t control the wind.  You can’t dictate the wind.  It’s there but you can’t have it.  It’s there but you can’t get it.  A foolish man who spends his life trying to be in charge of everyone in his life will end up troubling those closest to him and at the end of his life, he will have nothing to show for it.  He will be miserable because he will hear his wife but because he troubled her his whole life in his pursuit of power, he will not have her heart.  This man will be miserable because he will hear his children but because he troubled them his whole life in his pursuit of power, he will not have their hearts.  A foolish husband doesn’t want to serve anyone, whether that be his family, his employer, his government, his neighbor or his society.  He pursues power through work, education, possessions, conspiracy-theories and especially through harsh treatment of his family, all of which troubles his house.  As a result, he inherits or receives the wind.  At the end of his life, he has nothing to show for his life-long labors of trying to be in power.  

Later in Proverbs, Solomon would declare a person “greedy of gain” the type of person who “troubleth his own house” (15:27).  Such was the case with Achan in Joshua 7 when the Israelites fought with Jericho.  God told the Israelites not to take any of the spoils from Jericho for the city was accursed.  Sadly, Achan was a fool and like so many in our world, he saw possessions as power.  He couldn’t let another man’s cursed trash not become his treasure.  Money was power to him, just as it is to so many today.  He took an expensive garment, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold.  His covetousness cost the HOUSE of ISRAEL thirty-six lives.  When Joshua traced the reason for their loss back to Achan’s disobedience, he asked Achan, “Why hast thou TROUBLED us?” (Joshua 7:25).  This man’s desire for wealth was a desire for power and in his pursuit for power, he troubled his house as all of his family members and his entire estate was burned in the Valley of Achor, which became known as the Valley of Trouble.  Achan lives in Jewish infamy as “the troubler of Israel” according to 1 Chronicles 2:7.

Society hasn’t changed much.  To this day, men and women foolishly equate possessions with power, thinking money means power.  Fathers and mothers work multiple jobs and long hours to obtain things, foolishly thinking that their wealth will make them more powerful than their peers.  Unfortunately, they trouble their homes in the process and at the end of life, they have nothing of real value to show for it.  Sons and daughters make the same mistake in pursuing wealth through careers and inheritances, choosing to trouble their parents and siblings in the process.  They too, will finish their days inheriting possessions but no relationships.  In Solomon’s eyes, this is akin to inheriting the wind.  

Is it power you seek?  Is it authority you want?  Do you find it hard to serve your family, your employer, your government or your society?  A word of advice from the wisest man to ever live – don’t sacrifice your family for the pursuit of power, whether in the form of possessions or in the form of respect.  If you live your life demanding respect or seeking the seat of authority, you’ll trouble your house in the process and ultimately, forfeit your family.  Serve your home and you will win your home.  If you choose to pursue the servitude of others in life, at the end of your life, you will have nothing to show for it

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