"The shephanim are not a mighty people, yet they make their houses in the rocks"
The exact type of animal this is may never be known but the most intelligent animal is an animal that inhabits the Sinai plains and mountains.
This is clearly a small creature that is not fearsome or strong. It is not intimidating, but it finds itself defensed well by using the surrounding rocks as defense. The point of the inspired writer is that even when you are not powerful and overwhelming in yourself, there are ways to allow yourself to be protected. Use what you have around you.
The writer is trying to make the point that even small, unprotected people can protect themselves. You don't have to be a victim.
They use the impenetrable rocks to defend themselves from their natural enemies. So a wise person will use laws, organizations, structures, etc., to defend themselves against the selfishness of others.
You don't have to be a victim. You don't have to be just inherently strong, powerful, or fearsome to live a life free from oppression and affliction. Apply the knowledge that you have wisely and you too can be protected no matter how naturally weak you are.
Are there areas and people that just naturally intimidate you or bully you? How can you surround yourself with defenses outside of yourself so that you will not be defenseless?
houses in the rocks
The animal uses rocks to protect himself and his family. Just as the animal uses naturally occurring parts of his world, so humans need to learn to protect themselves. This could be through using the law, money, friends, weapons, anonymity, position, location, police, etc. What the writer of this Proverb is trying to say is that even animals are not naïve about the predators that live around them. They take precautions. All of us need to take protective precautions so that those who would seek to harm us cannot get to us.
I am amazed at the number of naïve people who believe that it is other people’s job to protect them -- the government, their parents, their employer, their spouse, their relatives, the police. It is wonderful when these people do protect us, but usually their protection requires some active participation on our part. Do not make yourself into a victim by your naivety. Think through how you are living. Think through who could be against you. Think through how you are protected from all your potential enemies and disasters.
Just recently we witnessed devastating hurricanes, fires, and weather. Some of the people whose houses were destroyed had back-up plans and back-up situations. Some people had not done even the basic planning for a disaster when they had been warned over and over that this could occur. In the area where I live we have the threat of earthquakes. I need to be prepared for an earthquake which will not allow me or my family to purchase food or water for 3-5 days. Am I ready?
A number of years ago I failed this wisdom test when in the middle of the night a young man snuck onto our property into our garage and into my office. I happened to be working very late and surprised him with my presence. I chased him away, but my lack of preparation had let him in. The police said that many people leave the back door to their garage unlocked. Just locking the back door of the garage would have been a “houses in the rocks” bit of wisdom. Let me tell you that my wife and I always make sure that every night the back door in the garage is now locked.
Let me go further. In this last financial downturn many lost their jobs. Because some prepared their houses in the rocks, so to speak, they had savings to live on until they could get new jobs or new sources of income.
What is your plan if you are laid off?
What is your plan if a loved one is killed?
What is your plan if a natural disaster strikes your area?
What is your plan if a robber comes to your house?
What is your plan if …