Wisdom’s Third House



If we desire to become wise—to acquire “skill in the art of godly living”—we must accept God’s invitation to dwell with Him in each of wisdom’s three houses. Although at times it can be an uncomfortable stay, each house will ultimately provide for us the comfort we seek.

1) The Prosperous House (Proverbs)

2) The Stricken House (Job)

3) The Decaying House (Ecclesiastes)

We’ve already taken tours of Wisdom’s First House and Wisdom’s Second House. Today, we are visiting the third house of wisdom (Ecclesiastes).

And it’s a wreck.

The porch light only works intermittently because the electrical system is on the fritz. That could have something to do with the leaky plumbing. The roof has some holes and the windows are warping, so it’s a bit damp and drafty inside.  And the conditions will only get worse because the entire structure is destined to collapse, decay, decompose, and disappear. No one will even remember that a house once stood in this place.

The truth is that this third house—life in this present world—has problems that are so critical and systemic that any attempt to address them is like trying to fix pervasive mold and structural rot with paint, wallpaper, and a few throw pillows.  We have nothing in our tool boxes, or in our home decorating kits, to fix problems like these:

  • A man works a lifetime to accumulate what another will enjoy.
  • Tragic events befall the good and the bad.
  • There is corruption in places of justice.
  • The oppressed shed tears with none to deliver them.
  • Wise and foolish men alike perish like beasts.
  • No one is remembered after death.
  • As for men, nothing satisfies, nothing endures, nothing matters.

We stand in the decaying house in disgust. We hate it. It’s a crumbling house that is returning to dust, and soon will be completely lost to memory. Our souls cry out, What’s the point?  It’s all vanity, futility, meaninglessness!

Sure, the house functions in some respects. It provides us some shelter, a bed, and a table where we can share meals with the ones we love. But we’ll eat and drink knowing that our graves have already been dug out for us in the back yard. The grave is where we’re going.

The gloom of Ecclesiastes clears the way for our encounter with God. The Master Builder constructed a glorious mansion that men turned into a ruin. Only the Original Architect and Builder is able to free the house from perpetual decay.

In God:

  • Eternity answers vanity.
  • Omnipotence answers futility.
  • Purpose answers meaninglessness.

Derek Kidner summarizes: Without God, nothing has meaning. With God, everything has meaning. Every act will be brought into judgment. So the end of the matter is inescapable: fear God.

It’s the three houses of wisdom together that tell the whole story. To be truly wise, we must live in all three houses simultaneously, so that we can walk closely with God through all circumstance of life, and help others do the same.







10 thoughts on “Wisdom’s Third House

  1. Dave,
    You did a superb job distilling valuable information down into 3 posts — and making personal and applicable. And you also left me wanting more. Strong words, strong visuals … and a desire to do something with what you’ve written about.
    Powerful writing.

  2. The word that kept coming to mind as I read this post was, “Hope.” In God. Hope in God changes our perspective of life’s circumstances. The thought of living in all three houses–I like that. These have been great posts, Dave. I’m so glad you shared your wisdom!

    • Yes, hope is God is the theme, isn’t it? It’s interesting that you mention that. I intended to include a reference to all of creation being subjected to the slavery of corruption–but subjected “in hope.”. A day of freedom is coming for the children of God. And all of creation will “raise the roof” in celebration. Thank you for your participation in the discussion and for your kind compliments.

  3. Dave,
    I’m coming on to the scene a little late, but I’m glad I’ve arrived!! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog today on the 3 houses. Great way to communicate wisdom!! I look forward to going back and reading all of them. You certainly have a gift of communicating. Thanks for sharing what God has shown you!

  4. Hi Dave, I was smiling as I was reading your decaying house piece today, as Bob and I feel as though that’s where we are at this time in our lives – decaying that is!! But what a joyful time to live, and to live that life with a capital “L”. We love the fact that we will be with Jesus sooner – and He has been so gracious to give us His Joy through that decay stuff.
    Love, Dee & Bob too

    • I assure you that I did not have you in mind when I talked about decaying houses. 🙂 But I do know what you mean. Our outer selves are breaking down even as our inner selves are being renewed day by day. And we all share the great hope of the redemption of our bodies. Thanks for sharing with me the overflowing joy that Jesus gives to you!

  5. Hi Dave,

    Your illustrations and thoughts that match are

    really the product of your God-given talents.

    Keep up the good work!

    Your latest one on The Decaying House reminded

    me of a quote by my favorite author, C.S. Lewis:

    “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,

    the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”


    • Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! The C.S. Lewis quote applies perfectly. We experience only the echoes of Eden in this life, and we groan with deep yearning for Eden restored. Oh, and I’m sure C.S. Lewis will show up in one of these blog posts.

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