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.
He who loves pleasure will become a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich. Proverbs 21:17
Much can be discerned about a society and people by those it deems as their heros. Ours is a society in very serious decline - and that can be fairly easily discerned when one examines our heros. Those considered our heros today are people in the entertainment industry and sports stars. Singers and actors are paraded before us day after day even though they offer little of nothing to us outside of entertainment. Their broken lives are the source of the headlines of our tabliods. Each a little more lurid than the last one - we are watch them self-destruct with baited breath. When the next star arises (especially a child star) we can predict the sad trail that will be followed. We will find that if they are rich intially, their riches will vanish - or be consumed by the wreckage of failed marriages, arrests, and stints in drug rehabilitation facilities. The plot of such lives is as predictable as the plot of a soap opera - and usually as ungodly as well.
Take for example Mike Tyson, of boxing fame. Tyson squandered a $350 million to $400 million dollar fortune. What did he do to lose all this money? He dropped half a million dollars on a 420-horsepower Bentley Continental SC with lamb’s wool rugs, a phone and a removable glass roof. He definitely loved expensive cars because he spent over $4.5 million dollars on cars alone. Throw in a $2 million dollar bathtub and $140,000 for two Bengal tigers and you can see why Tyson’s fortune went down the drain and he filed for bankruptcy in 2003.
We are warned that the ones who love pleasure will become poor. Often for these people hard work, frugality, and restraint are not in their vocabulary. They are far more interested in parties, pleasure, and indugence of their lusts. They are living for the so-called "good time" that they can have here and now - with little or no thought of what lies beyond the end of the week. Their lives are spent on pleasure, the pursuit of things, and often on sexual immorality.
Wine and oil are mentioned in this warning. Those who love these two things, it warns, will not become rich. Wine and oil were the usual things to be had at expensive banquets. This was not ordinary wine, but expensive wine. When I go to higher class restaurants that serve wine, I am shocked that some wines cost over 200 to 300 dollars per bottle. There are wines out there priced at over $1000 to $5000 each bottle. Someone wanting to impress their friends with an expensive banquet would purchase the very best wines to be served there. The oils could also be very extravagant in their price range. Mary was criticized for using an ointment to annoint Jesus that cost almost an entire year's worth of wages. For the rich, such ointments were given to their guests as a sign of their wealth. Their parties and banquets would be filled with the expensive smell of high priced oils. Doing this would cost a fortune - and would assure that the one doing it would not be wealthy for long.
The prodigal son had great wealth when he left his father's house. But he soon squandered it with rich, loose living. His parties were probably the stuff of legend to those who attended. The only problem was that when the money ran out - and the parties became austere in their appearance - all his so-called friends left. The one who loves the pleasures of his flesh will not become rich. His riches and wealth will be swallowed whole by his wicked appetite. This is why we are counselled not to love such things. We are instead told that the wise man is the one who leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. He is the one who invests so as to reap long-term benefits and rewards. Ultimately he knows that he will take nothing with him when he dies. Thus the wisest man invests in the kingdom of God and the advance of the gospel - sending true riches ahead of him to the one place where moth and rust do not destroy and where no thief can break in or steal. The wise man knows to invest in heavenly things that glorify God is the safest investment of all. Therefore he lives with God's glory as his goal in all things - financial, physical, and spiritual. This will be a rich man, now, as well as for all eternity.
He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
What makes you feel safe and secure? What do you rely upon to make you confident about these things. Today in our look at Proverbs we will see how two types of people seek security and safety, but how only one of them will truly obtain it.
Our proverb tells us of a man who "trusts in his riches." The word for trust is the Hebrew word "batah" which means to not just trust, but to have a confident trust. This man feels secure and safe - without fear - as a result of his riches. He may have a bank account that is full - a set of stocks that are the best on the market in returns - plus a sure-fire business model that assures him of success in life for years and years to come. This is what makes him feel confident - his wealth. Here is the problem with this man. Scripture tells us that the one who trusts in his riches will fall. This word is a very frightening one. It means to fall down to a prostrate position. Here it has the idea of being overthrown. The overthrow described here is death. Regardless of what amount of money you have - and how secure that you think it is - your money will not survive your death. In Psalm 49:5-9 we read the following, "Why should I fear in days of adversity, When the iniquity of my foes surrounds me, even those who trust in their wealth And boast in the abundance of their riches? No man can by any means redeem his brother Or give to God a ransom for him— for the redemption of his soul is costly, And he should cease trying forever— that he should live on eternally, That he should not undergo decay."
The Psalmist here reminds us that no amount of money will be able to pay for a soul and the redemption it needs. The man who trusts in his wealth - who thinks that the abundance of his riches will rescue him from death and from the punishment due for his sins - is in for a tremendous amount of disappointment. The day will come when he will stand on the same footing as any other human being - and have to give an account for his sin. If anything, the fact that he has wealth and riches will make his judgment even more stringent. Jesus said that to whom much is given - much will be required. The man who trusted in his riches rather than trusting in Jesus Christ - will end up in the lake of fire for all eternity.
The righteous are contrasted with this unwise rich man. In fact we are told that the righteous man will flourish like a green leaf. This is the man who realized that there is no amount of money that could ever pay for redemption. His desire to please God and to honor Him will make this man do everything in his power to obey God. He does not look for a righteousness based on money - or even on his own good works. He knows that the man who will flourish in this life and stand in the next is the man who has been justified (made righteous) by faith. Thus his life is not spend trying to earn God's favor and love - he knows that such things have already been purchased by the blood of Christ. His desire is rather to listen to God - walk in fellowship with Him - and - out of that fellowship enjoy spiritual growth. This is why he will flourish like the green leaf. He is not trusting in growing himself. He trusts in a God who blesses him first with righteousness to stand in His presence - and then trusts Him to lead him in the way that will glorify God in all that he does.
What are you trusting to make you secure? If you think your security depends on how much money you have here in this life - or how great your wealth and insurance coverage is - you will lose everything. If instead you see that there is only really one security issue, you will do well. If you grasp that the clear and present danger is the wrath of God for sin - you will choose the way that will make you stand righteous in that day - and that righteousness only comes through the gospel - and the gift of it by God in response to repentance and faith in those who believe on Jesus.
The rich man's wealth is his fortress, The ruin of the poor is their poverty. The wages of the righteous is life, The income of the wicked, punishment. Proverbs 10:15-16
To rightly understand the first proverb here in verse 15, we must push on to read it with the proverb in verse 16. If we do not do this, we will think that the acquisition of money is the end of man's existance. Although God encourages us to prepare for the future and to work hard so that through His blessing we may leave an inheritance to our children's children, this does not mean that gaining wealth is to be our highest aim.
We first learn of the fact that money can provide a measure of protection. The rich man's wealth is his fortress. There is much that a rich man can do to protect himself from harm due to his wealth. He is protected from much in life due to this. A fortress is a place one stays during an attack - it was a place of safety. For the rich man - his wealth can prevent him from a quick ruin by difficult circumstances. One example for us to remember is the wisdom of setting aside money for problems that we know will come in the future. The man who acquires some wealth can set aside money for problems that ARE going to come. In our society, if you own a car or other mechanical item, you are assured that a breakdown of some sort is in your future. If you spend everything you have - you will not have anything set aside for this difficulty. The wise man acquires wealth for this very purpose. He puts money away for the repair and replacement of such items. Therefore when a difficult time comes, he has money for these things. The poor man often is ruined by such situations. He does not know what to do and often sees ruin come to his financial picture because of debt he obtains seeking to fix or replace things or he just has to do without, which could be a very problematic hardship. Wealth can be a protection for us.
The problem with this proverb is that one might think wealth is the ultimate protection. Therefore we must gain wealth however we can. Such thinking is ungodly - and will lead to ruin, if not now - then in eternity. Therefore we have a clarification in the next verse. We are told that the wages or income of the righteous is life - which the income of the wicked is punishment. If we are seeking righteousness - a life that pursues God and desires to do what God says is true and just - we will be blessed. We may not have a tremendous amount of money - but we will have what is necessary at the end of the age. We will have life! The wicked though, however rich they may become, have a serious problem. Their income will be punishment. Thus a man may be tremendously wealthy by all outward appearances - but he may be dirt poor in spirit. The rich farmer in the gospels had enough to tear down his old barns and build new ones to fill with even more earthly riches - but the very night his soul was required - he was found destitute.
Remember that wealth and riches are defined in a number of different ways in Scripture. They may be physical wealth - or they may be spiritual riches in Christ Jesus. It is wise to remember that to be physically wealthy according to James is to be put in a humble place by God. It is difficult for an earthly rich man to enter heaven - because he has a bad tendency to trust his riches. To be poor is also defined different ways. Whereas it may be a bad thing to be financially poor - it is a blessed state to know that we are poor in spirit. Realizing these things will help us better define true wealth and true poverty.
The poor man utters supplications, But the rich man answers roughly. Proverbs 18:23
What is it about wealth and wealthy men that makes them think they can talk down to other people? I've watched human behavior over the years and have been amazed to watch many rich people speak as if the world should bow at their feet. We've all heard the stories of celebrites and other rich individuals who treated store clerks, servants, and even the police with contempt. Now we read in Proverbs this very same thing - that the rich answers roughly while the poor of this world embrace humility when speaking.
First of all - we need to be careful not to over-generalize on this matter. I do know wealthy people who embrace humility and I also know plenty of the poor who are arrogant when they speak to others. But the truth is the truth. When you are poor you tend to offer supplications - the word means to make a request. The idea here is that the poor see their state and thus embrace humility more easily than the rich. The poor man has little to find pride in according to this world's standards, thus he knows that when he comes to ask something - it is best not to add manners to the list of things he has little of in life.
The wealthy, though, do have a lot. That is why they have a tendency to speak and answer roughly. Their thought is that their wealth should be respected. They have power - and often are willing to wield it if someone is not jumping through hoops to meet their needs. I remember watching a television show where a rich woman was marching through a store ordering the poor clerks around as if they were her personal slaves. Her actions and attitude were terrible. Granted the purpose of the salesperson is to serve the customer, but that does not give the customer the right to treat them with total contempt. But, this woman was extremely wealthy and with her wealth came worldly power.
The idea behind the way the rich answer is interesting. The word "roughly" means the following: "to be strong, powerful, insolent. When used of isolence it refers to a strong, forceful person - wonw who is determined and defiant - in some contexts it also has the idea of greed, covetousness and an insatiable appetite for such things as power and wealth. When referring to how one speaks, it almost always has the idea of answering arrogantly. When reading this list of adjectives one can only shake their head like they would when watching one of this ilk run rough-shod over whomever they think should be serving them at the time. Thinking that their money, power, and position are everything, they consider the world a collection of peons whose purpose is to serve them and show whoever else is watching they are a person of influence and power.
This will continue usually throughout their lives unless they receive the wonderful gift of God's humbling, saving grace. What a shock it will be for those who don this kind of attitude at the judgment. Suddenly they will find the tables turned - and a forced humility very bitter indeed to swallow. Yet that is what they face. It will only be in that moment that they will embrace humility and brokenness - which they should have embraced in life - only it will be too late.
What can we learn from this proverb? First, we can learn eternal values. What consitutes riches in God's sight is far different from what the world says they are. We read in the New Testament that God has made the poor in this world rich in faith! The currency of heaven does not bear the image of past presidents. That currency flows through faith believing the truth. Second, we can embrace humility toward others - no matter who they are. How have we treated those who serve us in what we would consider menial jobs? Do we answer those we consider "less wealthy" than us with rough arrogant attitudes? Are we gracious no matter what the socio-economic level of person with whom we deal? When looking at this proverb this way - there is much we can learn. The truth is that Jesus Christ was the wealthiest man ever to walk this earth - yet when we watch His interaction with men and women - what we see is Someone who showed precious humility no matter what the state of the man. Oh, that we would learn the same lessons - and manifest the same spirit. And may we grasp that true wealth has little of nothing to do with your wallet - and everything to do with the spirit in which you wield it!
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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