Our Home Is Only Temporary

Yael Eckstein  |  December 4, 2020

The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
     but he blesses the home of the righteous
. — Proverbs 3:33

This month, we’ll continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs on Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes. Enjoy!

Proverbs 3:33 tells us that God will curse the house of the wicked and bless the home of the righteous. This verse seems straightforward; however, the original Hebrew reveals a bit of a discrepancy.

The word for “house” used in reference to the wicked is bayit, while the word for “home” used in reference to the righteous is niveh. Bayit describes a permanent home while niveh alludes to a temporary space. It seems incongruous that the wicked are associated with a strong, long-lasting home while the righteous are connected with a flimsy, short-term place to live.

The Jewish sages explained that the verse reflects the way that the wicked and the righteous view life. The wicked see this world as their permanent dwelling place and live accordingly. They live for the present, without any thought to the future or the afterlife. In contrast, the righteous see their stay on earth as fleeting. They recognize that their home, niveh, is only temporary, so they place far more value on good deeds than on fine possessions.

Stay Here Is Brief

This teaching reminds me of an amazing woman I met during one of my visits to America. It happened at a time when war was raging in Israel, and I was raising money for badly needed bomb shelters. This woman asked me how much the shelters cost, and I cautioned her that they were very expensive, $13,000 to build just one shelter.

I will never forget how she jumped up and immediately exclaimed, “Thank God, Thank God! I have been saving up money for years to remodel my kitchen and I have exactly $13,000! God wasn’t having me save for my kitchen — He was having me save so that I could help the people of Israel!”

She gave all of the money she had saved for her home and provided a bomb shelter to save lives in Israel. I have no doubt that in return God blessed her exceedingly!

Like this righteous woman, I pray that we all live with such a clear perspective on life. May we recognize that our home is only temporary, our stay here is brief, and that our possessions are merely a means for doing good. Let us value eternal life more than temporary comfort. Then we, too, will be abundantly blessed both in this fleeting lifetime and more importantly, for all eternity.

Your Turn:

A great way to get a clear perspective on life is to imagine that you only had weeks to live. How would you spend your final weeks? What would matter most?

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