Question: "What does it mean that by wisdom a house is built (Proverbs 24:3)?"
Answer: King Solomon was one of the most prolific property developers in biblical history and more than qualified to say, “By wisdom a house is built” (Proverbs 24:3). He constructed the “house of the Lord,” or the temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1), a massive project that took seven years and turned out to be one of the wonders of the ancient world. He also built his own magnificent palace—“the House of the Forest of Lebanon” (1 Kings 7:1–3, ESV)—as well as gardens, roads, walls, infrastructure, and many government buildings.
Yet a physical residence was not the only structure Solomon had in mind when he said, “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures” (Proverbs 24:3–4). Solomon understood that the virtue of wisdom has constructive, life-giving qualities. His maxim closely resembles Proverbs 3:19: “The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens” (ESV). Wisdom initiates life, produces fruit, and inaugurates creative wonders. Wisdom creates, nurtures, fosters, establishes, and fills a house, whether the “house” is a brick-and-mortar building, a household, a family, an enterprise, a company, an individual reputation, or personal character. In Proverbs 14:1, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”
In Proverbs 24:3 and elsewhere, the Scriptures personify wisdom as a productive, hardworking woman: “Wisdom has built her house; she has carved its seven columns. She has prepared a great banquet, mixed the wines, and set the table” (Proverbs 9:1–2, NLT). Although wisdom is an intangible quality, Solomon describes it poetically, as if it were an actual person. In doing so, Solomon vividly communicates availability of wisdom and the benefits of seeking and finding it.
The “rare and beautiful treasures” that fill the rooms of Proverbs 24:3 could be literal—the wise will handle finances well—but they also symbolize blessings such as harmony, unity, loving family relationships, and a sense of safety, protection, well-being, and stability. “Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling,” says Proverbs 21:20, ESV.
The Bible says that believers are “God’s house.” Through wisdom, we, as God’s children, are built into a solid and secure “house” for the Lord: “But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and remain confident in our hope in Christ” (Hebrews 3:6, NLT).
The apostle Paul taught that we are members of the “household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19–22, ESV). As individual members of Christ’s body, we are being built together into one holy temple in the Lord (1 Corinthians 3:17).
The most important stone in any building is the cornerstone. For this reason, Jesus Christ is called the Cornerstone of the church. He is the firm, immovable foundation upon which the entire building is established, undergirded, supported, and constructed. He sets the pattern for the entire structure. Christ is “the power of God and the wisdom of God” upon which we are built (1 Corinthians 1:24).
Peter encouraged believers to come to God through Jesus Christ so they might be built into a spiritual house for God: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . . But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:4–5, 9).
God’s work will last. Without Him, we’re spinning our wheels: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). We must depend on the Lord’s wisdom (see Luke 6:48), but how do we get it? We first receive God’s wisdom when we are filled with His Holy Spirit at salvation (1 Corinthians 2:6–15). After that, James tells us that wisdom is gained by asking God for it (James 1:5). We obtain wisdom by seeking it, pursuing it, and valuing it (Proverbs 2:2, 4–5; 4:8). Likewise, we get wisdom by spending time in God’s Word (Psalm 19:7; Proverbs 4:5–7; 2 Timothy 3:15).
The Lord’s wisdom is failproof. God’s “house” is built by God’s wisdom and God’s power, and Jesus is the Cornerstone. We can trust that it will never crumble or collapse (Matthew 16:18).