“Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.”
Explanation and Commentary of Proverbs 11:29
This is one of those proverbs in Scripture that is so practical that it applies not only to believers but also to unbelievers. The Book of Proverbs deals with practical wisdom. That is, it deals with the way things work. It covers the consequences of loose moral character. Truly, all the ways of God are righteous and good. Though an unbeliever will have to pay for all their own sins, there are certainly some people, both Christian and non-Christian who behave better than others, whose code of ethics and morality are on a higher level than others’, no matter what the motivation for that code. Obeying the counsel in the Book of Proverbs will not save a soul. Only Jesus can do that, but it will generally improve the quality of anyone’s life to follow it.
To “bring ruin” on one’s family could happen from the standpoint of finances, or reputation. A foolish member of the family could get into a situation and squander the entire wealth of the family, bringing poverty on them all, leaving nothing but “the wind” to inherit. In the same situation or a different one, the fool can destroy the reputation of a family with immoral behavior. How we live does indeed reflect on our parentage to a certain degree. This view is consistent with the rest of Scripture (Ex 34:7).
That the fool will be a servant to the wise is just a matter of common sense. There are objective and concrete ways to order one’s life that will generally either bring prosperity, ruin, or mediocrity. The Bible gives us all the information to be wise, but true wisdom comes from living out the right way, rather than just knowing it. If you believe you have been a fool, it is never too late to begin acting wisely. Repent, and trust Jesus for forgiveness. Your past has been a learning experience, and you are finally ready to walk a new path.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Proverbs 11:29
#1 “Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,”
A ruined family has nothing to leave behind as an inheritance. It is considered a good thing when a dying man can leave an inheritance “to his children’s children” (Prov 13:22).
#2 “and the fool…”
The one who does not follow the objective ways of the world and reality. Perhaps he or she evades the truth, lives a disorderly life, and does only what is expedient to his or her appetites.
#3 “…will be servant to the wise.”
Especially in biblical culture, a servant was a low position and one of low privilege. This is likely referring to a bonded servant, who was practically a slave.
Expert Overview of Proverbs
Biblical Translations of Proverbs 11:29
Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.
Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind. The fool will be a servant to the wise.
Whoever troubles his own household will inherit the wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart.
He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind, And the fool will be servant to the wise of heart.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.