In determining the value of something people often turn to how what they are valuing compares with other things we know are of great worth. That is what Proverbs does today in seeking to help us grasp just how valuable wisdom is to us every day.
There is a profit to wisdom - a payoff. When we learn to live lives that ask what the wise thing we should do - we will receive the rewards that wisdom has to offer to us. Then the comparisons begin in our passage. Wisdom has a greater profit than silver - and a better gain than gold. I'm writing this in 2010 and those who made a decision just a couple of years ago to purchase silver and gold know what kind of profit they got from it. They know that our federal government has played fast and loose with monetary policy and our economic position has suffered because of it. Our paper money has lost its value as the government continues to spend at a rate that cannot be maintained. Thus our money is being deflated as they print more to spend more - without anything to back it. But gold and silver are commodities that have real value to them. Thus while our paper money is floudering - gold has almost doubled in price. Silver is not far behind - because they have real value. There is something else that has real value - wisdom. When we have it - we will find amazing profit in keeping wisdom and following hard after wisdom.
Wisdom is also more precious than jewels. These are ornamental jewels like rubies, diamonds, sapphires, and other valuable jewels. Once again these items are rare - and are considered to be worth something. But what Proverbs is saying to us is that wisdom is more "precious" than jewels. Here we are not talking about profit as with silver and gold, but we are talking about how something it valuable to us. Wisdom is personally valuable to us. We know that if we wear wisdom in our lives - people will notice. Just like a woman with a large diamond hung around her neck is noticed, so also is the man or worman who lives wisely noticed. The jewels are considered beautiful - even though they are only rare hunks of rock. Wisdom adorns us with God's character, with godliness, with a holy life - and are the most beautiful things that we can have because they last long after the physical jewels of this life are gone.