Proverbs 31:18-19 She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle.
The wise and godly woman here knows the taste of success. When it says that she "senses" her gain is good - God uses the word for tasting something. She works hard, which we see consistently in the previous verses. But more than that, she tastes that what she is doing it good. The things that she sells to the merchants brings her gain - it helps her to earn money. She knows and tastes the success that hard work brings. It is important that people experience the fruit of their labor. I am not one who believes in the economic systems of socialism or communism. Those two systems tout a false idea of community goods that are shared by all. The problem is that such systems kill the benefits of hard work and labor for the individual. In the end, the collective works only as hard as they want to - and since they receive nothing but the same allotment for their labors - they are not motivated to excel at them. The result of tasting the fruit of your labors will be far less labors. When we are allowed to taste that sweet fruit, we are motivated to labor harder, smarter, and wiser for the good of our own benefit - and by that for the good of our family and others around us.
This godly woman knows that her gain is good. Here we have another confrontation with the current thoughts on economics. In our world gain is bad! How dare Capitalists relish the fact that they are making a profit? We wrongly call them evil - yet it is their "so-called" profit that allows so many others to enjoy benefits. This godly lady knew in her heart that hard work would yield good things - and would bless her - bless her family - bless others who bought them - and eventually would bless her community. When governments try to "equalize" the playing field - what they mean is that they are going to promise everyone the same outcome - because that is what they say is fair. What is amazing is that they want an equal misery for the masses - but for themselves luxury. Every socialist and communist leader has evidenced the sin nature. They talk a certain egalitarianism among others - but they themselves will have the most. They will have the best of everything. What they deliver to the people is equal poverty and misery.
It is self-interest that will drive men and women to their best efforts. They must receive some reward for hard labor - and once they taste this fruit - they will want more. This results in hard work - work ethic as it is called. This woman knows that. Because she tastes that her gain is good - she works hard. She labors into the night as her lamp can testify. She stretches out her hands to make clothing - which is what the terms distaff and spindle indicate. This is because she is working toward her own self-interest. In this case that means her own clothing - the clothing of her family - and clothing that can be sold to others to earn more money for the welfare of her home. This is the kind of work God encourages - and blesses. May He give us wisdom to reject the false philosophies that promote powerful government officials who speak of equality and egalitarianism - but who only deliver a corporate misery to the masses as they live high on the hog themselves. May we instead see the value of hard work, frugality, and wisdom in taking what God gives us and using it for the benefit of our families. The fascinating thing about this kind of life is that as families (which are the basic unit of society in God's economy) multiply with these views, a village, city, region, and even nation is blessed and prosperous as a result.
Proverbs 29:14 If a king judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever.
Just recently we finished an election cycle in the United States. The pattern for many years now has been that the candidate with the most money usually wins the election. Thus, for an American leader, the adage is that whoever can court the most wealthy people and gather the most money will rule over the land. It is not so much how one will rule - or what they plan to do in this country - as it is how many of the wealthy come to their $5000 a plate each fundraisers. One must keep the wealthy happy - or else you will no longer have the money to win an election.
Things were not always like this - in fact, today's proverb gives wise guidance to the leader or king who will hear it. That advice is not based upon men making you or keeping you as their leader. It is insted about caring for things like compassion toward the poor and truth. These are things that have long been trampled under the foot of American political process and theory. Yet God still considers them very important in a leader.
The king is to judge the poor with truth. That is his responsibility. It is an easy thing to forget - especially when the poor do not have the means to protest or challenge an unfair ruling in the courts. It is even more difficult when the one you rule against is rich. The wealthy don't appreciate truth in those situations. But a ruler may not face a challenge greater than maintaining truth when it comes to disputes between the wealthy and the poor. God's wisdom is to judge with truth - then it will not matter what a man's position in life is. Only one thing matters - and that is that truth is upheld.
The promise of God is equally as clear. When you judge the poor with truth - your throne will be established forever. God rewards the king who appreciates truth and justice more than power and position. The people of that nation will greatly appreciate their king, and will joyfully support him. It is hard to overthrow a king who acts this way because he is very popular among the people.
There was a king in Israel named Ahab who decided that he wanted a piece of land next to his palace. The land was owned by a man who took great pride in his families' inheritance. Though the king offered to purchase the land, the man refused because he desired to keep the land in his family. At this point the king pouted like a two year old because he did not get his way. Others acted on his behalf and got him the land - although it meant departing from the truth and judging unrighteously. So egregious was this situation that they chose to have the man killed in a false court proceeding. When the king was informed that the dirty deed was done, he went to claim his new garden next to his palace. He was met by the prophet Elijah whom God informed of the entire sordid affair. What was going to be a time of rejoicing over his new land - turned into a horror story. The prophet informed the king that God was going to judge him and his wife for their wickedness - and their unwillingness to treat the poor with truth and justice. Jezebel, the queen, would be eaten by dogs - and the king and all his entire family would be killed and not allowed to rule Israel any longer. This is what happened when the king decided to oppress and abuse the poor. He, his kingdom, and even his legacy were destroyed.
Leaders can get cocky and decide that they are beyond the reach of justice and truth. Nothing could be further from the truth. God will eventually bring even kings and rulers under his bar of justice. Therefore it is good for kings to know that one of the measures of the fitness of their kingdoms is how they treat the poor. Do that with justice and your kingdom will endure. Cast justice to the curb - and you might just find yourself sitting next to those who have previously robbed of justice.
Abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor, But it is swept away by injustice. Proverbs 13:23
God is concerned about the poor - and about justice concerning them. What is interesting about this passage is that the major concern that God has is about freeing the poor to make the most of their lives by hard work. Unfortunately in our day too many think that the best way to care for the poor is for the government to take care of them by instituting programs that foster what is called social justice. This kind of justice involves the government using a taxing power to redistribute wealth so that fairness is reached as far as "outcomes" are concerned. What we see here is that God is more interested in the poor having fairness in regard to opportunity rather than outcomes.
God is the God of justice and He is very concerned about the injustices that are perpetrated against the poor. In the Old Testament He makes it very clear through the prophets that one of the reason judgment falls on societies is because they no longer have compassion for the poor. But, social justice is NOT a compassionate response toward the poor. It is rather an example of government trying to bring about justice by promising equal outcomes for all. This is done whether or not the person receiving the promised outcome is deserving of it or not. Whether we like it or not there is some poverty that is the direct result of choices made by the one who is in poverty. There is also poverty that is the result of people not being willing to work. The Bible is clear that if a man is not willing to work, he is not to eat. Then Proverbs tells us that when he is hungry enough - that will motivate him to work. The poverty of the prodigal son was due to his own ungodly living and ungodly choices. When a man wastes his money on drunkenness and riotous living, he should not prosper in life. To promise him the same outcome as the hard working man is not social justice. It is social injustice!
God makes promises to those who work hard and who live wisely. He also makes promises to those who choose ungodly paths - speaking of poverty and want that will come to them. We cannot try to stay His hand in these matters without eventually bringing the entire government under His discipline. That is what we are experiencing today. The government has decided to work for common outcomes for all in a perverted sense of what is just. But this is unjust - to confiscate the wealth of those who have worked hard for what they have - and to redistribute it to those who in many cases have not worked hard for it. When someone gives to the poor freely it is a gift. But when a government gives to the poor by confiscating the wealth and gain of the productive - it is thievery by taxation.
God says here that abundant food is in the fallow ground of the poor. That means that the poor could till the ground and make a crop that would lift them out of their poverty. The abundant food does not produce itself - it is given when the poor have the freedom to till their ground and bring it forth. What is being restricted here is the freedom of these who have been reduced to poverty. When this happens, there is poverty abounding. But where there is freedom instead of injustice, the poor man is able to work hard and over time lift himself out of poverty. Where the government works to provide a level playing field for all to prosper equally from hard work - there will be a blessing on that society. The government also has a responsibility to make sure that in doing this the rich do not use their money to keep the poor from succeeding. This happens as well in the world - and it is the responsiblity of the rulers of a nation to make sure that they are not unduly influenced by money to decide for the rich in disputes. They are to make just decisions and not allow the rich to abuse the law to keep the poor in their poverty.
God desires justice and freedom to prevail in the affairs of men. He desires for these things to free men to be able to work hard and prosper from their labors. These things can be infringed upon in life, but not without cost. The cost is that the poor cannot achieve better things through hard work, saving, and investing in something that can give them more in their future. Whether this is done by the rich oppressing the poor - or a government oppressing all by taking from one class to give to another - God is not pleased. All men - and all governments will stand before God to give an account of their stewardship of the poor. May we be wise to free the poor to till the fallow ground of their farms and lives so that they may be lifted out of poverty, not by a government program, but by a work-ethic that encourages them to work hard, save, and build for a better future.
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, But a just weight is His delight. Proverbs 11:1
Here is a proverb that has ramifications both in the practical world of everyday business as well as for living with other people. In the business world this has to do with weighing things properly. A false balance would be used in the market to weigh various food items - but would be set so that it would overweigh everything. Thus the crooked businessman would make people pay more for less. This is nothing more than cheating in a business. Unfortunately this happens more often than we would like for it to happen. But Yahweh wanted to let Israel know that when this was the case - He considers it an abomination. We don't use the word abomination much in our society - but it means to be highly offensive. When God considers things to be an abomination - He also judges these things and brings His wrath upon those who practice such abominations. When God calls something an abomination - our best wisdom is to steer very clear of such things - because these things will get you judged quickly - and the discipline will come hard.
Isn't it interesting to see that God is interested in the business world and the practices within it. Religion only affects a man when he is in the context of church - or some other accepted religious setting. But Yahweh is saying here that He is not just a "religious" figure. He is deeply interested in all that happens - even in the world of business - even to the point of someone tipping a scale slightly in their favor. He abhors such things. If we want God's blessing in our lives - that will include setting our business practices according to the principles found in His Word.
The "just weight" delights the Lord! He is pleased when a businessman chooses to act in his business according to what God sets as acceptible standards. His standard is honesty. He desires that we be honest and truthful in our business dealings. He wants us to practice godly buisness practices. When we do - He tells us that such things delight Him. And what God delights in . . . God blesses. The old addage, "Honesty is the best policy" definitely carries weight in the eyes of God. He will bless us if we will deal honestly and forthrightly with our business associates and with our customers. Here is a proverb that will help you in your everyday life.
This proverb also has something to say to us spiritually in regard to our lives as well. A false balance tries to weigh something falsely. This is often the case with the lost man too. He wants to be weighed according to the world's standards. He looks at other men and wants to be weighed as to what is right in their eyes. Such a false balance is despised by the Lord. The truth is that we are all judged by God's Law - by His standard. If we do not measure up to what He calls us to be - and to do - we just don't measure up. Too many men think they are fine because they are not as bad as other men. They compare themselves among themselves - but in doing so they deceive themselves. The false balance here is the lies of false religion and a man-oriented, works-oriented gospel. God hates this because His standard never changes. It has always been perfection in keeping His law. If we do not measure up to that standard, we lose.
From time to time you might want to check your balances and scales in life. You do this to make sure that God is the One who is setting the standards in your life. When you don't do this - you have that fallen tendency to fix your scales in a way that is abominable to God. May God give us grace to view His Word as the arbiter of all weights and standards - both in the business world - and in how we stand before Him.
Proverb a Day
Each day, we'll take a look at a verse from the chapter of Proverbs for the day. Our hope is to gain wisdom each day - and from that wisdom - to have understanding to make godly decisions in the throes of everyday life.
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