Proverbs 11:29

ESV Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
NIV Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.
NASB One who troubles his own house will inherit wind, And the foolish will be servant to the wise-hearted.
CSB The one who brings ruin on his household will inherit the wind, and a fool will be a slave to someone whose heart is wise.
NLT Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind. The fool will be a servant to the wise.
KJV He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.

What does Proverbs 11:29 mean?

Many verses in the book of Proverbs are warnings about the natural consequences of sin and stupidity. Truth and wisdom come from pursuit of God (Proverbs 1:7). Those who ignore truth set themselves up for failure (Proverbs 10:24, 27). In this passage, Solomon has noted several ways in which selfishness and evil lead to ruin, particularly in relationships with neighbors (Proverbs 11:10, 17). A key emphasis of this is selfishness, in contrast to generosity (Proverbs 11:24–26).

Here, the stress is on one's relationship to family. To "trouble" in this instance might mean to be disagreeable or unkind. Other related proverbs stick to the theme of greed (Proverbs 15:27) and the consequences it brings. What Solomon seems to have in mind is not merely a person who is offensive to their family, but a person whose actions bring risks or consequences into the home.

To "inherit the wind" implies that there will be nothing left of the family; rather than having something to pass along it will be consumed. Along the same lines, those who act foolishly will lose the advantages they would have had. Those who are wise, in contrast, have a better chance to maintain or grow their success.

Exodus 20:5 refers to God bringing consequences for sin on "the third and fourth generation of those who hate [Him]." Often, children copy the bad behavior of their parents and contract the same trouble as they encountered. Saying "I was raised that way" is no excuse in God's eyes. Herod's family illustrates this truth. Herod the Great slaughtered Hebrew children in and around Bethlehem. His hope was to kill an infant Jesus. Herod Antipas killed John the Baptist. Herod Agrippa I, Herod the Great's grandson, killed James and imprisoned Peter. Herod Agrippa II wanted to hear the apostle Paul, and after hearing him, sent him to Caesar. This family line was filled with trouble, and the end results were death and ruin.
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