She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. 18 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. Proverbs 31:16-19
This is the third day that we have looked at qualities of the excellent wife. In the verses we look at today we see that this particular woman that Bathsheba is describing for her son is an industrious woman. Let’s look at the ways that she walks out her industriousness.
First we see that she knows real estate – or at least how to “consider” a field in which she plans to plant a vineyard. The word here for “consider” is “zamam” and it means to speak to oneself in a low voice or a quiet one. The concept here is that of deliberating on something. It meant to formulate a plan of action – from beginning to end – and then counsel with yourself to make sure that the plan is a good one. It represents the inner thought process one has as they seek God and even converse within themselves when making a very important decision. For the excellent wife this decision concerns whether a field is worth purchasing. This includes the thought of whether the field is acceptable for agriculture (in this case to plant a vineyard). Then it moves on to whether she has the money to make the purchase – as well as whether the field is going to be profitable in the endeavor. This lady is not a wall-flower – and neither is she so delicate that she shuns hard work.
The second thing we see is that this woman is strong. She has girded her arms with strength. This strength is not from going to the gym all the time – but rather from good, old-fashioned hard work. She is planting a vineyard – working a field, then coming home to grasp the distaff and spindle to make yarn and eventually fabric from which to clothe and bless her family. Whatever the work – it is a good thing to have a wife who knows how to work hard. All this is delightful to her – for she senses that her work is good. She sees that the things she is doing are going to be a blessing to her family. She is earning money from which they can be blessed. She is planting a vineyard from which they can get grapes, grape juice, and wine. She is working hard to turn the lamb and sheep’s wool and cotton into cloth and eventually garments for her, her family, her servants, and even those to whom she sells them later in the passage. She even works in the evening time – not having her lamp go out at night for the purpose of blessing those whom she loves.
The excellent wife knows work – knows strength that comes from work – and senses and knows that a good work ethic is a blessing to her and to her family. First there is the direct gain to herself that comes from it. It is a good thing to desire to bless ourselves with our work. There is a self-interest that God has built into each of us that is beneficial to us if we use it to work hard. That self-interest though must go to bless others around us as well. The excellent wife wanted to bless her husband, her children, her servants, and even the men and women in the city as she worked hard to produce things of benefit. That selfless self-interest is what drives a beneficial economy. Things like socialism and communism have NEVER blessed a country and its economy. That is because they do not encourage work ethic. They do not encourage a selfless self-interest to be productive. They encourage instead a growing dependence on government as the driver of all things – and the one that determines who gets what in the end. Everywhere that has been practiced it has encouraged laziness and greater dependence on someone to give us more and more – even if we did not work to get it. The excellent wife knows that her example of hard work will do more than give the family a few more shekels. She will promote that same hard working ethic in her children and in others around her. She will provide goods for others – and will show people that hard work and frugality does bring blessing on those who practice it. In the end, the excellent wife knows that there is more to this than raising grapes . . . she needs to raise children and their children to many generations with the same hard-working mindset. That will last far longer than a bunch of grapes or any other products she labors to produce.
A slave will not be instructed by words alone; for though he understand, there will be no response. Proverbs 29:19
Ever wonder how to deal with someone who works for you - but is not really willing to listen all that well to what you tell them? That is what today's proverb addresses. It speaks of the workplace and relationships within it. This especially relates to those who have employees who are either not working - or - are guilty of slipshod work or work that is counterproductive to what the business is seeking to accomplish.
There are those who will not be instructed by words alone. Solomon speaks to his sons about this fact. Finding a good employee is often a difficult thing to do. There is an attitude that is being fostered today among those who are in the laboring class that will prove to do great damage to our nation - and in fact it already has. That attitude is one of jealousy and envy toward the business owner - and anyone else who makes more than they do for their work. This leads to an attitude where the worker does not listen to his boss when he instructs him on what to do. This brings about poor work habits - a poor work ethic - and an even poorer attitude toward authority. This will cost us millions in lost profit and the benefit that would come from it in future business expansion and growth.
The problem though is not in whether the employee can hear or not. Note from the passage before us that he hears fine - he even understands what has been said to him. The employee has a serious attitude problem though - and refuses to respond to his employer. This lack of respect will result in the worker also not taking the boss seriously. In the end he will do his work with the same attitude with which he listens. So what is an employer to do when these things happen to him?
First, the employer (at least the one in this culture) needs to know that such attitudes will always exist. As long as there is a sin nature in man there will be jealousy and envy in the work environment. The wise employer will work to defuse such things so that the work environment is more healthy. Decrying the sin in workers will do little good - because sin will always be present. What the employer needs to do is to find ways to defuse the problem.
A wise employer seeks to hire people of character. You do background checks and seek information from other employers for this reason. If someone has a bad attitude - don't hire them. They will only bring that bad attitude into your workplace as well. If someone has a history of causing problems in the workplace - they will have that same problem in your situation as well. When you have people with good character - reward them and do all you can to keep them around.
A wise employer also will incentivise his workplace. Just as no employer starts a business for the purpose of providing employment for others - no worker gets a job for the joy of working alone. The employer starts his business to make money. He puts in the hours, makes the sacrifice, and labors hard to make a profit for himself and for his family. He grows the business so that it will expand his profitability - so he can provide better for his family. The worker is motivated by the same thing. He does not work for the joy of working alone. He wants to provide for his family - and would like to see that provision become greater over time. When the workman knows that he will be blessed as the company is blessed - he will work hard. The wise employer will not merely instruct with words - he will make a case for his employees that if things become more profitable for the company, things will be more profitable for everyone who works for the company. Words alone won't elicit response - but a share of the bounty of the company over time will.
A wise employer will also build a servant's heart in his people. He will do this first by his own example. He will not be so detatched from his people that they think he does nothing but play and collect a check. He will spend time with his people - and will let them know that he is a servant to the company as well. They all work together to serve their clientel. That attitude needs to spread to every level of management in the company. It also needs to spread to everyone who works in any position there is. They are not there to be served (which will lead to a bad attitude as they want more and more done FOR them) but to serve, and by so serving to make the company more successful. They are a success when their clients are happy.
Ultimately - the wise employer will let his employees know and see that he does not work for himself - he works for God. This will only be for those employers who submit themselves to God and realize that everything they have is from God. Not only will their employees be judged for their performace - even they as an employer will be as well - by God. God warns both employee and employer that they are responsble to Him. They will have to answer for their actions in the end before His throne. When an employee sees that even his boss submits to God - and wrestles with what is right before Him - it will give the employee a sense of confidence and safety knowing that his boss is not a law unto himself.
Words alone do not often bring about a response when we speak them. Words and promises are cheap - when they are not backed up with character and action. But when we speak the basic self-interest that exists within all of us - and do so with character, godliness, and a servant's heart toward those we lead - we will see response where previously there has been none. Whether it is in reference to a slave - a paid worker - or even family and friends, people want to know that they are doing something that will matter - and will profit them in the end. The truly wise boss will do this - and will let his employees know that the ultimate goal of any business venture in which he is involved is to serve their clients unto the glory of God. Want to have them listen, hear, understand, and respond? Live like this!
A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. Proverbs 28:22
Greed and a heart that chases after wealth and riches - is a terrible condition to see in a man. The Bible describes such a conditioin as having an "evil eye." This phrase is actually a Hebraism which meant to be greedy about money - and very stingy about giving any of it to anyone other than himself. When a man lives this way, he has an evil eye.
Another way of stating this is found in this same Hebraism in the New Testament. In Luke we see Jesus say this about a person's eye. "The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. "Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. (Luke 11:34-35) The "bad eye" mentioned here is said to be full of darkness. This is a similar Hebraism that speaks of the evil or the bad eye. What is interesting is that both of these passages refer to someone who is very greedy with their money. Whether in the Old Testament or the New, this condition is considered a bad one to have.
Here is the problem - when money fills our eye - little else does. Therefore we don't have our eyes on the Lord - and neither can we see past money to recognize the needs of others that should move us to compassion and a giving heart. The evil eye is hastening after wealth. The word for "hasten" here is "bahal" and it means to be in a hurry for fear or dismay that one won't get what they are chasing. The unwise man is chasing wealth. He is not just after money - he wants a lot of money. He won't be satisfied until he has a little more - and that condition will be terminal.
This man is igorant of something that is happening to him even as he pursues his money. Slowly but surely want is coming upon him. It may not be a want of cash - it may be a want that grows as he ignores family, friends, and God in his endless pursuit of just a little more. The writer, Charles Dickens gave us the unforgettable Ebenezeer Scrooge in his book entitled, "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge was a man who had enormous amounts of wealth in reference to his bank account. Unfortunately for him such a boon in his bank led to utter bankruptcy everywhere else. The visits from the three spirits who came to show him his poverty woke him up to the fact that while he hastened after wealth - want had come upon him. It was a want that could not be satisfied with money alone. That fortunate night cured Scrooge of his evil eye - yet his name lives forever in our minds as a term that speaks of a miserly, miserable heart that loves little other than its money.
May God help us to embrace wisdom as a result of today's proverb. Wisdom is to have what Jesus called a "clear eye" that is "filled with light." That light will be the Word of God that will instruct us in true riches. Those may include physical wealth - but will never be limited to it along. The true riches must always include a tender heart that yields an open hand that does not hold tightly to financial wealth. It sees such blessings as God-given, and therefore to be God-directed to those who need it most. When we live this way it is not want that is coming to us, but blessing. The blessing of having our treasure in heaven and our true riches found in a relationship with God's Son, Jesus Christ.
A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. Proverbs 28:20
Get rich quick schemes usually come with some form of sin involved in it. The quick riches come at the expense of others. The lottery is such a scheme - everyone is buying a chance to strike it rich - and only one does. All the others waste their money. The lottery is for those who are bad at mathmatics or who are wanting to get rich so that they can quit working. Either way - their riches come with a burden of sin. That is what today's proverb counsels against.
Let's look at the last half of this proverb first. The one who makes "haste" to be rich is going to face punishment in the end. It is never wise to be hasty in decisions or in following schemes that others hatch to make you rich. The corporate world is filled with those who learn to become rich on the backs of other's misfortune. Companies are bought and gutted for the purpose of making the investor rich - and people in the Stock Market are always talking of plans whereby you get rich quickly. The problem is that in every case - someone has to pay a price for your quick wealth. The phrase at the end of this proverb that reads, "will not go unpunished" is a Hebrew phrase that also means, "will not be innocent." The idea is that some form of sin is entered into that leaves them guilty - and eventually will lead to them being punished. Just know that every scheme that makes someone rich hastily - will leave them with an aspect of guilt in the end.
God is not against people becoming rich. God promised riches to the patriarchs and to Israel if they would follow Him with all their heart. He also warned them that when they became rich they would have a tendency to forget God and trust in their riches. God is against those who make haste to be rich - and cut corners morally to do so.
The Lord wants us to be faithful. Work is NOT EVIL! There are so many who think work is some sort of evil activity that came with the fall of man into sin. Work was something God gave man in the garden before the fall. Therefore to do faithful work puts us in a position for God to bless us. That is why The Lord says here that the faithful man will abound with blessings. Those blessings may include financial riches - but for many it does not. The blessings abound in numerous areas. I am blessed with my work associates - and the friendships that have been built over the years. I am blessed with projects that we do together that bring a very real sense of accomplishment. I am blessed with less temptation because my hands and my mind is busy doing work. I am blessed with being able to see my children learn the value of a strong work ethic because they've watched their father do what he learned from his father. I am blessed with a good night's sleep because I am tired and ready to go to bed each evenring. For some there is a blessing of an expanding business where others can be blessed with employment. And there is the blessing of serving others in your work - and building more and more of a servant's heart. Regardless of whether the blessings are financial or through moral character building - there is such a blessing that is ours when we embrace faithful work. May God help us to once again embrace the value of lifelong faithful work - and shun the get rich quick schemes that always involve some aspect of guilt and sin.
There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up. Proverbs 21:20
The wise man takes what God has given him and uses it wisely. He spends some and uses it for himself, his family, and his friends. He also saves some and puts it away for future use as well as for lean times. Today let's take a look at the acts of the wise man who saves for his future and the foolish man who simply swallows everything God grants to him.
We are told that precious treasure and oil are in the house of the wise man. Whether he received these things from the practices of industry and frugality - or whether he received them as an inheritance from godly, thoughtful parents - the wise man knows how to save. Precious treasure is an interesting word as it has two connotations. The first is from how the word is used to refer to things like gold, silver, and other commodities. He saves money, food, and other valuable things so that he will have access to them in the future. Why does he do this? Because a wise man knows that since the world in which we live is fallen and affected by sin - there will be times of shortage and leanness. Throughout all human history there have been both abundance and famine in our world. Joseph knew such things from God Himself when he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh. He did not waste time in the purcuit of gluttony and over-indulgence. Joseph was a wise man and saved and stored much so that when the famine came he would be ready. His foresight and obedience to God saved all of Egypt, saved his own family, and made Egypt rich beyond their imaginations.
There is a second way this word "treasure" is used. The word can also mean "temple treasures." These spoke of treasures that were given so as to build up and maintain the worship of God in the temple. In the dwelling of the wise there is provision stored up not only for physical welfare - but for the spiritual welfare of the home as well. There is little more foolish among mankind than to think this world is all that there is. They live ignorant of God and ignorant of their responsiblity to Him. The wise man stores up for both the physical and the spiritual. There is in his house a physical inheritance - but also a spiritual one as well. He lives godly and rears his children to love and honor God. He makes sure that the Word dwells richly within their hearts - desiring for them to walk with God and know Him intimately.
Not only is there treasure within this house of the wise, there is also oil. When speaking of oil - this could speak of the olive oil that was used in almost every aspect of a Jewish family. They needed this for food preparation - for spiritual worship for annointing oil - and for medical reasons like softening wounds and helping them heal. There was also the idea of savings - because some oils were very expensive. Mary offered a container of very expensive oil as she annointed Jesus with it in preparation for His crucifixion and burial. This alabaster vial was worth a whole year's wages. When one of the prpohetic students of Elisha died, his widow was in debt and in danger of haring her chidlren sold into debt slavery. Elisha answered this by having her collect numerous vials which later were supernaturally filled with oil. This she sold, paid her debt, and even had plenty to kep her and her children alive and well. This kind of oil would signify that a family was preparint for their future - for the needs of their children and grandchildren. On a spiritual note - oil was a picture of the Holy Spirit - so one could even consider this the way that a family cherished the work of the Spirit in their lives and encouraged it in themselves and in their children.
The foolish ones don't save any of these things - either physical or spiritual. Theirs is a consumer mentality. They swallow up whatever they receive with no thought of the future. They live by their lusts and desires - and therefore do not even consider anyone except themselves. The end of such a life is that they are broke, both physically and spiritually. The saddest example of this is the prodigal son. He took a large inheritance and wasted it on the party life. In the end he was broke. His so-called friends abandoned him and left him to fend for himself. This was only after he abandoned any kind of spiritual preparation for the future by rejecting his father and his father's God. He was left with nothing - except the grace his faher would give him in the end.
If we are wise we will realize we live in a fallen world. This will necessitate preparation for our future - both physically and spiritually. We will face famines physically that will require that lay up wise stores for that day in order for us and for our families to survive. But there is also a need to prepare spiritually - for there will also be a day when we will face being ready for the judgment of God. Oh to be wise and understanding so that our preparations will have our homes and lives filled with treasures both temporal and eternal so that we will be well provided for when the day comes that we need them. May God, in His grace, work in and deliver us from a life lived for self and for the moment. May we be ready for anything - famine in life - and fatal spiritual thinking in eternity.
An inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning will not be blessed in the end. Proverbs 20:21Quick money is often thought of as a blessing - but often is more like a curse. This proverb is all about warning us of the dangers of greed and quickly gaining money and wealth without having the character to deal with what we receive. The best example of this is the prodigal son. His father gave him his inheritance, but he was not ready morally to handle it. What happened next is an altogether too often heard story. He wasted his inheritance on loose living and partying with his new-found friends. He only learns when the money is gone that he has no real friends among the sycophants who have gathered around him. He only has regrets and abject poverty. The inheritance gained hurriedly at the beginning - was not blessed in the end.
Note here that the problem is "hurriedly" gaining this inheritance. A wise man will prepare his children and his children's children for the inheritance that they will most likely receive at his death. He does this by teaching them the value of work. This work ethic that is built into them gives them a proper perspective toward money. They see money earned and see that they do not waste all their hard work on silly and frivilous pursuits. When the inheritance comes - they learn to spend it and invest it in ways that will bring long-term blessing rather than just a short-term high.
The best way to prepare a person for an inheritance is to have them focused on God rather than on money. They see an inheritance is a blessing to pass on rather than to be wasted on their lusts and desires. They want to see the family wealth passed to many generations. This is called generational wealth - and it can bless multiple generations of one family. But even more important than this is passing on to children the truth that the things of this world are passing away. Therefore the wise man invests and sees real wealth in terms of becoming rich toward God. This means investing in the kingdom of God - investing in good works - and investing in buiilding up disciples of Jesus Christ who can bless multiple generations. Ultimately the wise man teaches his children that the greatest inheritance is that given to us by God. We are blessed with a heavenly inheritance in Christ Jesus our Lord. That inheritance will never pass away - and is reserved in heaven for us.
Wealth - especially sudden, hurriedly gained wealth will test us sorely. We will be tested in our values - in our view of what is truly valuable - and in our view toward eternally valuable things. The man whose master is money (mammon in Scripture) will cling to that master and hate any others who rival him. The man whose master is the Lord will be blessed not just in the short term as he receives an inheritance, he will be blessed in his own generation - in multiple generations afterward - and ultimately, he will be blessed in the presence of God forever. Now there is an inheritance worth living for in life!
The poor is hated even by his neighbor, But those who love the rich are many. Proverbs 14:20
Popularity is far too often determined by what a person has or does not have, rather than by whether they are a person of character and value. Today's proverb reminds us of this as we are faced with how people are judged by their bank account rather than by who they truly are in life.
The poor is hated by even his neighbor. That is a strong statement, but unfortunately, a true one. James warns in chapter 2 of those who judge by the mere appearance of wealth in the church. His statement is fascinating and will bring much light on our current verse here in Proverbs 14
"My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of
personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, "You sit here in a good place," and you say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool," have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be
rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?" (James 2:1-5
Here James confronts the attitude that respects the rich, but despises the poor. The rich are recognized by their clothing and their jewelry as they walk into the meeting of the church. As a result, they are treated with great respect and deference. The poor, whose clothes seem to betray their poverty, are treated with disrepect and disdain. One if given the seat of honor - the other is left to sit on the floor. The problem with this kind of judgment is that it is motivated by evil motives. Honor is given by what a person makes - not what God has made of them. Respect is shown because of a person's wealth of money - not their wealth of godliness and character. These things are done also because of selfishness, because we figure in the end that we can "get something" from them. We will profit from the relationship - but the profit we seek is only monetary. We shun spiritual blessing and true wealth.
We are reminded hat the poor of this world are usually rich in faith. We devalue that and forget that God sees all and knows all. This is evil - and shows great disrespect for Both God and His Word. It also usually aligns us with those who do harm to God's people. The poor, we read, are rich in faith and are heirs of the kingdom.
Ultimately we need to remember that Jesus was poor as He lived on this earth. He spoke of how the birds of the air had nests - but He had no where to lay His head. It is not that the poor are automatically saved - due to their poverty. It is that they have nothing in this world - thus they are far more ready to hear what God says - not being blinded by their money or their possessions. If we despise the poor - we in all honesty despise our Lord Jesus as well. Yet he is rich in what truly matters - and from what we read in James - the poor are usually rich in faith as well. That is why we need to be wise and value people not on a basis of their financial bottom line - but with true judgment - on the basis of their character and their wisdom gained from their intimacy with God and their study of His Word.
It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, And He adds no sorrow to it. Proverbs 10:22
There is a wrong view of wealth that says that God does not bless men with wealth - therefore if anyone has it - they have it due to sin. This is contrary to what we see written in the Scriptures. God does make men wealthy. He blesses some men with the ability to accumulate and make a great deal of wealth.
Eccleiastes 5:18-19 says the following, "Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during
the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God." God grants people the ability to receive great wealth from His hand - and also grants to them the ability to enjoy it. This is truly a wonderful gift. It is also what our proverb today is telling us from the Lord. It IS the blessing of Jehovah that makes a man rich, and when God grants this - there is also no sorrow with it.
There is often great sorrow that attends the rich men of this world - who have put their hope in these riches - rather than in the Lord. These men do not enjoy their riches - because that is all that they are living for. Paul warned young Timothy to beward of living for riches - because when a man loves money - he pierces himself with MANY sorrows. Not only this, but when a man sets his heart on wealth - it is as if wealth takes up wings and flys toward the heavens. This is the malady that strikes those who think if they could just get a little more they would be happy. You see the folly of this when you see men who are billionaires who are not satisfied with their wealth - but struggle and strive to become even richer. Their lives are consumed by their wealth - and even as the Scriptures tell us - their sleep flies away from them because they cannot stop thinking about their money and how they will continue to protect it.
God does bless some with wealth. But we know those when we se that there is no sorrow that comes with it. They are happy - and do not allow wealth or riches to consume their thinking. They even use their wealth to bless God and to expand the work of the kingdom here on earth. Therefore they are among the blessed whom God has given riches - and the ability to enjoy them and use them without harm to themselves. If you are one of these people - fall on your knees and thank God - for their numbers are few indeed.