Proverbs 24:27 Complete your outdoor work, prepare your field; afterward, build your house
We must remember these are proverbs and not promises. They are mean to instruct not give inheritance. These are teachings from a father to sons, they lead to the best possibilities for success. The following of these principles give us best case scenarios. They also are a collection, each one stands alone, though they could be grouped by topic, but the verses stand alone for the most part.
There is much instruction here about societal wisdom in Proverbs 24. Back up to the top. “Don’t envy the evil”… because they lead to trouble. v2 A house is built by wisdom…” v3 “by knowledge the rooms are filled with… treasures.” v5 “a wise warrior is better than a strong one…” v11 “rescue those being taken to death… save those stumbling toward slaughter.” v13 “eat honey… it is good” v14 “wisdom is the same for you…”
I’ve always known and liked v16, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.” Point being, both the righteous and the wicked fall… but the “righteous” one gets up and keeps going toward better things, but wicked ra’ah – it means “to pasture, tend graze, consume.” Righteous living is found in getting back up, “we’re marching to Zion”, we are coming after Christ, so we don’t stay in the fall. The wicked stumble and they “pasture” there, they stay and feed in their failing.
v17 “don’t gloat over the evil falling...” v20 “the evil has no future… their lamp will go out…” Then there are words about justice and blessing. Many of these proverbs in chapter 24 are 2 verse proverbs and there is a correlation among them about wise living.
Then v27, for me, rises above them with instruction about Order. Everything has a proper order. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul says, (v20) “…Don’t be childish in your thinking, but be infants in regard to evil and adult in your thinking…” Then 14:33 says, “God is NOT a God of disorder but of peace…”
So, with that instruction in mind, in this collection of wisdom proverbs… Solomon says, Complete, Prepare, Build
First – Complete the Outdoor Work
Second – Prepare the Field
Third – Build the House
Interestingly the first two, Complete and Prepare, are written in the Imperative Tense. Do It, Do It Well, Do It Now, Do It Whether you want to or not. THEN Build. He knows that everyone wants to end, we all want to build, we often have, and we just want different or better or fancier, but we leave the outside stuff undone. So, Solomon says, “let’s get things in order” because when we fail to do things in order, even “success” fails. But after the orderly struggle comes the timely success and reward.
I like the verbs, “complete” = finish – “prepare” = destine – Build = construct, fashion, have offspring, set surely, restore. Then notice the defining calendrical noun, “afterward” = the hind part, or the following part.
Not to belabor the point but drive home the truth, Solomon says complete, finish, the outside work, prepare the field, IMPERATIVELY, i.e. You Must! Then AFTER you have cleared and laid the foundation and destined the property, THEN we can build, from a land called “Afterward”.
I’m mindful of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount about building on sand or on Solid Rock. Everybody wants to build, so Solomon just uses the normal tense for that last instruction, not the imperative tense. But “Complete” (determine, direct, establish) the Outside work = exterior, open, streets, outward. And “Prepare” (destine, make ready) the field = agricultural, battlefield, countryside, ground, soil, territory.
Hmmm… we like to focus on the inside but God says, “yes, I look at the heart, but the outside, the battlefield, the planting field has to be made ready before successful building of the house, which by the way means armory, box, building, facing inward, hall, family.
We want a storehouse, but we have no store goods
We want a building, but we have not people
We want a harvest, but we do no planting
I hear the words, “the Lord is my shepherd… he prepares a table for me…” Phillip Keller says that this is talking about the High Tablelands where the Shepherd takes his sheep for the summer. He had to do a lot of prep work in the months before. He had to clear the land and plant often the right things for the sheep to graze, etc. There is much completion and preparation before moving into the house.
Solomon has encouraged me in the last few days with these words about the importance of FIRST THINGS FIRST. He reminds me that this is imperative and must be in order… THEN
Afterward – the Hind Part, the Following Part – that will be the land, the time, the season, to Build the House. That coming time will be important, but let’s keep it in order… Important Words for us Today.