Principles from Proverbs: Finances

Solomon, one of the wealthiest men of ancient times, had quite a bit to say about how we may acquire and use financial resources.

One volume of Solomon’s writings – the Book of Proverbs – contains a large catalog of passages dealing with money, including (open your Bible and follow this list through that book): 3:9, 10; 8:18-21; 10:4,15, 16, 22; 11:4, 24-26, 28; 13:7, 8, 11, 21, 22; 14:20, 23, 24; 15:6,16, 27; 16:8; 17:6; 18:11, 23; 19:4, 7; 21:5, 17; 22:1, 2, 4, 7, 9, 16; 23:4, 5; 27:24; 28:6, 8, 11, 22, 25; 30:8; 31:18.

When we assimilate the array of passages on the topic, Scripture teaches that financial resources are a product of our employment and investment coupled with the blessings of God’s providence. The providence of God refers to the manner in which He foresees our material needs and arranges through natural channels for those needs to be fulfilled. Jesus taught that we should not worry about our physical needs because the Father would satisfy each one: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:31-33). The providence of God is not a substitute, however, for our prudence in managing the resources by which those needs are met. The Lord expects us to provide goods and services to participate in our economy and to be wise stewards of our financial means.

To help us keep money in the right perspective, consider some of the passages in Proverbs that tell us about things that are better than money:

Wisdom is more valuable than money.

The benefits of wisdom is more valuable than any precious jewel: “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. 14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. 15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her” (3:13-15). Wisdom often brings enduring wealth (8:18, 21). Wisdom yields better fruit than money (8:20). Wisdom enables one to rightly use money (17:16). Wisdom gives one proper restraint on the means for making money (23:4).

Fearing God is more valuable than money.

Fearing God is better than having a lot of money: “Better is little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith” (15:16). Humility and the fear of God often lead to the acquisition of wealth (22:4).

Righteousness is more valuable than money.

Righteous people can have great riches that involve no trouble (15:6). A poor, but blameless man (i.e. one who is righteous) is better off (i.e. before God) than a rich, but perverse man (28:6). “Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool” (19:1). God often rewards the righteous with money (13:21). It is better to have a little money with righteousness than much with injustice (16:8).

Understanding and applying these principles requires a value system that places a premium on things that cannot be purchased with money.