Question: "What does it mean that the wise man built his house upon a rock?"
Answer: The story of the wise man who built his house upon a rock is found in Matthew 7:24–27. It is one of the parables of Jesus. During His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a story about two men: one who built his house upon a rock and another who built his house upon sand. The house built upon a rock weathered the storm, and the builder is called wise; but the house built on the sand collapsed during the storm, and the builder is called foolish.
The meaning of this parable is quite obvious: proper foundations are necessary. With a literal house, it is unwise to build on sand, because the foundation will be unsteady and the house will eventually suffer some kind of damage. This will waste resources, and all the time and work put into building the house in the first place will have gone for nothing. In contrast, it is wise to build one’s house on a sure foundation; anchoring to bedrock makes a building withstand the test.
But Jesus’ sermon was not concerned with house construction or building code violations. The spiritual meaning of the parable is found in Matthew 7:24: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” We are each building a life. The proper foundation for a life is Jesus’ words—not just the hearing of them, but the doing of them, too (see James 1:22).
It seems at times that everything in the world is set up to make us turn away from God’s words. And often, our own feelings pull us toward doing the exact opposite of what the Bible says. But a wise man will follow the words of God despite these pressures—not as a way to “show off” or earn salvation, but because he trusts God. All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented Himself as the final authority on and fulfiller of the Law; He ends the sermon with a call to heed His message and, in fact, find one’s security in Him (see 1 Corinthians 3:11).
As we follow the Lord, learning to trust and obey Him, we receive a reward: our “house” is steady and solid, unshaken by circumstances. The wise man is the believer whose life is built upon the Rock of Christ; in this world he has faith and hope, and in the next everlasting life and love (see 1 Corinthians 13:13). The wise man is like the tree planted by the riverside, whose leaf does not wither (Psalm 1:1–3).