Proverbs 24:27

ESV Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house.
NIV Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house.
NASB Prepare your work outside, And make it ready for yourself in the field; Afterward, then, build your house.
CSB Complete your outdoor work, and prepare your field; afterward, build your house.
NLT Do your planning and prepare your fields before building your house.
KJV Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.

What does Proverbs 24:27 mean?

The broad theme of this lesson is the importance of proper priorities. Interpreters differ on the subtle differences one might apply to these words. Some take this to mean one ought to complete their basic labors before worrying about non-essentials. Others see it as a lesson to develop one's career and abilities before starting a family. Still others consider this a broad reminder that one should ensure "the most important things" are tended to before spending time and effort on less-critical subjects. All of these are compatible with the general theme of the proverb: it is best to plan one's work, and work one's plan.

In the ancient world, most people were farmers. Careful planning, in the present, was essential to ensuring there would be food and resources available in the future. Spending time and effort on lesser concerns, when survival was not yet covered, would have been foolish. In a literal example, it would be unwise to construct a permanent home when one doesn't have crops planted yet. After the fields are growing is the proper time to put effort into less-crucial areas.

Without proper planning and preparation, a project is likely to fail. Jesus pointed out the wisdom of carefully planning what is necessary to build a tower before building it (Luke 14:28). He pointed out that the failure to plan would abort the project, and people would ridicule the builder (Luke 14:29–30). Of course, no one should undertake a project without first considering the Lord's will. Psalm 127:1 counsels, "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." James 4:13–15 says, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'"
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