- Honor the Lord from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine. (3:9-10)
- Take my instruction and not silver, And knowledge rather than choicest gold. (8:10)
- Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. (10:4)
- The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver, The heart of the wicked is worth little. (10:20)
- Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, But righteousness delivers from death. (11:4)
- A gracious woman attains honor, And ruthless men attain riches. (11:16)
- He who trusts in his riches will fall, But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf. (11:28)
- There is one who pretends to be rich, but has nothing; Another pretends to be poor, but has great wealth. (13:7)
- Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it. (13:11)
- Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, But much revenue comes by the strength of the ox. (14:4)
- The poor is hated even by his neighbor, But those who love the rich are many. He who despises his neighbor sins, But happy is he who is gracious to the poor. (14:20-21)
- Great wealth is in the house of the righteous, But trouble is in the income of the wicked. (15:6)
- Better is a little with the fear of the Lord Than great treasure and turmoil with it. (15:16)
- Better is a little with righteousness Than great income with injustice. (16:18)
- A rich man’s wealth is his strong city, And like a high wall in his own imagination. (18:11)
- The poor man utters supplications, But the rich man answers roughly. (18:23)
- Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool. (19:1)
- Wealth adds many friends, But a poor man is separated from his friend. (19:4)
- House and wealth are an inheritance from fathers, But a prudent wife is from the Lord. (19:14)
- One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed. (19:17)
- What is desirable in a man is his kindness, And it isbetter to be a poor man than a liar. (19:22)
- Do not love sleep, or you will become poor; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with food. (20:13)
- He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be answered. (21:13)
- He who loves pleasure will becomea poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not become rich. (21:17)
- A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold. (22:1)
- The rich and the poor have a common bond, The Lord is the maker of them all. (22:2)
- The reward of humility and the fear of the Lord Are riches, honor and life. (22:4)
- He who oppresses the poor to make more for himself Or who gives to the rich, will only come to poverty. (22:16)
- Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings Like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (23:4-5)
- The rich man is wise in his own eyes, But the poor who has understanding sees through him. (28:11)
- A man with an evil eye hastens after wealth And does not know that want will come upon him. (28:22)
- Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion. (30:8)
Our Bibles contain a good deal of ancient history, especially concerning the Israelites. When reading the Old Testament we can learn not only about the customs, technologies, art, and warfare of this ancient people, but also about their intimate relationship with the LORD.
What we find is that the Israelites, over the course of the centuries, fell away from God time after time. If there was a way to go wrong, the Israelites would manage to find it. Because of this, their story gives us hope that God will be as patient with us and with our friends and family as He was with the people of Israel. It also gives us many examples of what not to do if we want to prosper and have joy in the LORD.
Here are three broad categories of unfaithfulness that we see Israel exhibiting. By examining where they went wrong, we can better be on the alert against troubles that might find their way into our own lives if we are not watchful.
1) Being too cowardly to even try to follow God’s leadership.
2) Becoming just like everyone around us.
3) Forgetting God in the midst of our prosperity.
Consider these categories of unfaithfulness in more detail:
Being too cowardly to even try to follow God’s leadership:
God told the children of Israel to go into the land of Canaan and to take it by force. He would fight for them to give them a land flowing with milk and honey. But the people, when they analyzed this task for themselves, decided that it was just too hard, and decided it was better not to try than to try and fail.
What commands has God given, or what direction does He lead, that you are too scared to follow? Find courage to follow where He leads, or you will die in the wilderness for your rebellion.
Becoming just like everyone around us:
Eventually the children of Israel did go into Canaan to take it for themselves. Many of them were courageous in following God into battle and claiming their inheritance. But many others were half-hearted about this task. They drove out some of their enemies, but they left others to live in the land. It was not long before they found themselves worshipping the sun, moon, and stars, practicing cult prostitution, sacrificing their children to Moloch, and doing all kinds of detestable things. They may have claimed to still follow the LORD as well, but their loyalties were obviously divided.
What worldly practices have you allowed to maintain a stronghold in your life? We may insist on calling America a “Christian nation,” but we must be careful to recognize that much that goes on here is anything but Christian. We must not cheapen the name of Christ by wearing it while living like everyone else.
Forgetting God in the midst of our prosperity:
God warned Israel repeatedly that they must not forget Him when times of comfort and prosperity came. They would enjoy nice houses and beautiful vineyards and large flocks and herds. Many of them would forget God in these times and feel that it was their own strength by which they had acquired their wealth.
In the age of advanced technology, modern medicine, and socioeconomic mobility, we may feel that the answer to all of life’s questions is to work harder, be smarter, and then sit back and enjoy the results of our own efforts. Science will save us. Money will fill the holes in our lives. Comfort is the ultimate goal. But we must not forget that without God, we have nothing.
Which of these kinds of unfaithfulness do you struggle with the most? Do you struggle with all three from time to time? What specifically should you be on the alert for this week?
King David of Israel is seen as a hero of faith by many Jews and Christians. What he achieved in his lifetime is impressive, and Acts 13:22 records that God Himself called David “a man after My own heart.” But David probably seemed a little odd to some of the people around him.
On one hand, David was as tough as you could imagine. He commanded large groups of fighting men with effective leadership. His valiant successes in battle led the young ladies to brag that “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”
On the other hand, David’s psalms reveal that he could be very emotional, very submissive, very meek, and humble. He made no secret that he wept bitterly many nights. He made no secret that his refuge was in God and not in his own strength. And he certainly made no secret that he loved God’s word with all of his heart.
It is a rare occurrence to find such an individual: extremely successful by worldly standards, yet totally submitted to God.
There is also the fact that David was “ruddy, with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance” according to 1 Samuel 16. He had a good reputation. He was a talented poet and musician. He prospered in whatever he did. There was surely no shortage of eligible bachelorettes for David to give his heart and soul to.
And yet, it was to God and His word that David wrote his love poems. It was God, more than anything or anyone else that he panted for as a dear pants for water. It was God who he stayed awake thinking about and talking to in the watches of the night.
David truly loved God. Not as a last resort when wealth, fame, success, sex, and romance had failed him. Rather, even in the midst of those things God remained his focus and his aim.
This kind of behavior makes the world ask “why?!” Why does someone who has such attractive alternatives still give their heart to God? The obvious answer is because God is in fact more attractive than any possible alternative. “Your loving-kindness is better than life.” David says in Psalm 63.
And when we live like David, whether that means being satisfied with God in the absence of all else, or being focused on Him in the midst of all else, we demonstrate to the world in an “incredible” but noticeably genuine fashion that God really is sweeter than all else.
On the day of Pentecost, when the Lord’s church was established, Peter preached a sermon that was followed by 3,000 baptisms. The Bible tells us that after encouraging the crow to repent and be baptized, “with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!’”
Apparently we aren’t the only generation in the past 2,000 years or so to get a few things wrong. As the early church was set apart from the wickedness of popular culture in the Roman Empire, are we setting ourselves apart from that which is amiss in the 21st century?
Ours is a culture of intense individualism. Each person chooses their own path, rises or falls by their own merits, and considers the needs of others as secondary. What about you? Do you look out not merely for your own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philppians 2:4)? Are you helping to build a loving community in Christ? Are you making sure others are not falling through the cracks?
Ours is a culture that misuses technology. The power of modern technology for good or for evil is immense. It has been suggested that man is no more wicked than ever before, though he continues to invent more sophisticated means to his wicked ends. How will you, the Christian, use the convenience, privacy, mobility, anonymity, availability, and scope of content and features provided by technology?
Ours is a culture crazy for entertainment. Sports, television, film, and video games are all multibillion dollar industries, with film bringing in over a half a trillion dollars a year. What does your spending reveal about your priorities? What about the use of your time? How many times have we spent a couple of hours watching TV or browsing the internet, only to realize that we are exhausted and go to bed without so much as 15 minutes for the Creator?
Will you be saved from this perverse generation? Can a Christian be faithful in such a wealthy, self-centered society? “With man, it is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).”