Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Counseled By The King: The Proverbs Of Solomon. Day 7, Wisdom Adds Wealth

Yesterday Solomon told his son that wisdom would bring him health. Today he tells him that wisdom will bring him wealth. And what is he to do with that wealth? "Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine." (Proverbs 3:9-10) Solomon counsels, "Never forget that you owe all your thanks to God for your blessings. Always be sure to honor Him with your firstfruits. If it weren't for Him you wouldn't have them."

The Lord said through the prophet Malachi, "'Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house. Test Me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.'" (Malachi 3:10) This food was to be used for the purpose of helping to support the priests and their families and to give assistance to the poor. People in ancient Israel didn't have any type of income programs for senior citizens or for low-income families. The priests provided aid to the poor from the temple storehouses, but there had to be food in the temple storehouses or else they couldn't help anyone. To withhold such tithes from God was to withhold aid from one's fellow man. Solomon and Malachi both agree on this and they promise a blessing for the one who obeys, saying something like, "You can't outgive God! He blesses you, then you give a tithe back to him from your blessings, then He blesses you some more!"

Solomon now inserts some fatherly advice, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline, and do not resent His rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, as a father the son he delights in." (Proverbs 3:11-12) Moses said the same thing, "Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you." (Deuteronomy 8:5) Job also gave similar counsel, "Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty." (Job 5:17) The Lord Jesus agreed, "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent." (Revelation 3:19)

Solomon is saying to his son, "When you mess up...and you will because everyone does...don't be angry with God if He disciplines you. It's for your own good so you won't make the same mistake again. If He didn't love you like a son He wouldn't bother. Earthly fathers don't discipline other people's children; they only discipline their own. Their own children are the only ones they have authority over. In the same way your heavenly Father only disciplines His own children. Judgment awaits those who are not His children and He will deal with their wicked deeds. But when the Lord corrects you it's because He loves you, just as I have corrected you because I love you."

Earlier in the book of Proverbs Solomon pointed out that wisdom helps a person make money. An article from 2016 estimates Solomon's net worth in today's currency as $2.1 trillion. On a list of the wealthiest historical figures he holds the number one spot. But this type of wealth never made him happy. He learned the hard way that money can't buy happiness. Only when he added the wisdom of the Lord to his life was Solomon able to enjoy his blessings. "Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed." (Proverbs 3:13-18)

If I had to choose between living with peace of mind and living with vast wealth, I'd have to choose peace of mind. Solomon says that godly wisdom provides this. For many years he lived in sin and excess because his wealth allowed him to obtain anything he desired, but he had no peace of mind. His thoughts troubled him. His conscience bothered him. As we learned in our study of Ecclesiastes, he tried everything he could to distract himself from the emptiness in his heart, but eventually he had to face it and deal with it. What he was missing was God in his life. No amount of money was going to fill the empty space in his heart that God was meant to fill.

In explaining to his son what true wisdom is, Solomon will later say, "Wisdom's instruction is to fear the Lord." (Proverbs 15:33a) That is first thing real wisdom teaches us. If we miss this we miss the whole point. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." (Proverbs 9:10a) We must begin there and all other things will follow. If we leave the Lord out of our lives then we might as well remain ignorant in every other way, for without the fear of the Lord we will never accomplish anything that benefits our souls or the kingdom of God. The fear of the Lord is our starting point for running the race of life. We won't run it successfully or happily or in peace of mind without Him.

Below is a cute and peppy little song to get our day started by lifting up the name of our God. It reminds us that in order to feel happy and fulfilled we must praise and honor Him.

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