Woman, the Builder of Her House
1909 — Newburgh NY
The text speaks of two women, a wise woman, and a foolish woman and declares [that] the building, or in other words, the rise or fall of her house is her own work, or the work of her own hands.
We read a great deal in the scriptures about building, and we all know [that] to build a house, commonly speaking means to erect, to construct it; but our aim is to speak directly of the spiritual meaning or significance of the text.
However, let us just for a moment look at the natural, the temporal building; at our everyday life. Who can fully estimate the value of a wise prudent woman to her household? While she did not literally build the house, nor furnish it, yet she is the real homemaker. The house would not be complete without her. She alone has it in her power to make that house or home a paradise or to make it just the opposite[,] the most miserable place on earth. The actions and general deportment of the husband and father largely depend upon the wife and mother: her character and life will be to a great extent reflected in her children, though there are exceptions to the rule, yet the general rule is, the character of the child is but the ech[o] of the character of the parent, and especially the mother> Because the most critical period of the child’s life is under her training and the early impressions are the most lasting and are apt to go with us through life, under the mother’s influence is to be molded a character. She has the [responsibility for the] unfolding of human life, and the development of human souls. Hence all that tends upwards morally, spiritually and even intellectually, must to a very great extent come from the mother. No home should be without the family [altar], and no meal taken without Gold’s blessing being asked. If the husband neglects this, his duty, then it falls to the wife.
— COMMENT —
For the building up of such a home is sure. Yes, where time is found to bow around the family altar to thank God for the man blessings of life; to ask a blessing upon the meal whether simple or sumptuous, where the welfare of the husband and children are ever before the wife and mother[,]
It can truly be said, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, she will do him good, and not evil all the days of her life. Thus we see the relationship a wise woman sustains to her house, or the building up of her house even before she comes to a clear knowledge of God.
But we desire to emphasize the spiritual meaning of our text[,] wise woman “buildeth.” Meaning 1st to strength, and increase in all the graces, knowledge, faith, [and] love.
— COMMENT —
As Paul said to the elders[,] “And now, brethren I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all of them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:32).
2nd “To cement and knit together spiritually. Now, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: in whom all the buildings fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:19-22).
3rd To reserve, bless, and prosper. For the Word says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh, but in vain” (Ps. 127:1)
4th It also signifies the blessedness of motherhood (Ps. 127:3)
“Lo children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Children are a blessing, thought we do not regard them as such in this day in which we live. “Thy God’s promise to the man who serves him and lives in his fear. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thing house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table” (Ps. 128:3)
Let us notice firs, what is meant by a wise woman. We find it is possible to be great, to be learned and yet not be wise. Job says, great men are not always wise.
What then is true wisdom [?] True wisdom is the gift of God and comes from above. And the word says, Behold the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom; and to depart from evil that is understanding. The knowledge or wisdom of the world teaches us what is to e done, and what is not to be done. But true wisdom enables us to do things justly and fitly. It was this wisdom that Solomon craved.
— COMMENT —
There is scarcely a women in the world, but knows what it takes to constitute a true home.
— COMMENT —
Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people (Kings 3:9)?
And after he had judged so wisely between the dead and living child, the word sad, “and all Israel heard of the judgment which the King had judged. And they feared the King: for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him to do judgment.”
Our hearts should be established with grace, and not carried about with divers and strange doctrines for the word declares “Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding, it is established.
2ndly But the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. Naturally speaking or according to the literal meaning when we say a person is foolish we generally mean an idiot or weak minded person[,] but dear friends[,] the scriptures characterizes the sinner and sin with fools and foolishness. David declared, “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness, my sins.”
The word says a foolish woman is clamorous, she is simple and knoweth nothing (Prov. 9:13). She lacks understanding.
Job said to his wife when she had so far forgotten the goodness of God to say to him, [“]curse God and die. Thou speaketh as one of the foolish women speaketh.[“] What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?
— COMMENT —
A foolish woman destroys her own house because she thinks more of the pleasures of the world, than of her business, her duty. She neglects the everlasting interest of her immortal soul, for the follies of this life. The wise woman’s eyes are in her head, but the fool walketh in darkness. The heart of fools is in the house of mirth, says the scripture.
Jesus said, “Every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Matt. 7:26).
In conclusion Dear Sisters, let us be wise unto salvation that at the end of life it may be said of us, strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come, she openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excelleth them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates [Prov. 31:31).
Source: Daughters of Thunder: Black Women Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979, ed. Bettye Collier-Thomas, (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass), 1998, pp. 137-139.