Profiles of a True Church
“The Wise Man’s Wealth”
Part 2


1.    Money has a way of supplanting your trust in God

Prov 28:11 The rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor who has understanding searches him out.

Waltke – “A rich person is wise in his own eyes, but a discerning poor person searches him out.”

rich man…wise in his own eyes = when you merge pride with wealth it causes wealth to lose its positive value.

The discerning poor man sees the blind spots of the prideful rich man.

Psalm 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties

God’s searching gaze, as prayed for in Ps 139:23, may come to a man in the unwelcomed and appraising stare of someone he regards as inferior.

Two things are implied in this saying: (1) wisdom is no respecter of rank (2) a man’s peers are not always his best judges.

Prov 10:15 The rich man's wealth is his strong city; the destruction of the poor is their poverty.

Waltke – “The wealth of the rich person is his fortified city; the terror of poor people is their poverty.”

Half of the 10 occurrences of “wealth” in Solomon’s proverbs instruct the youth to prize it; the other half instruct the youth not to trust it.

Wealth is worthless at the Judgment.

Prov 11:4 Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

Did you know that the wise man’s treatment of the “rich person” in Proverbs is almost always hostile and without sympathy?

His wealth deceives him into thinking that it provides real security

Prov 18:11 The rich man's wealth is his strong city, and like a high wall in his own esteem. 

Prov 18:11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall. NIV

Who needs God when you have enough resources to solve seemingly any problem?

Waltke – The rich person may be insured to the hilt and have money in the bank for a rainy day, but when death strikes, his moral insufficiency will ruin him.

In his delusion, the rich man seeks his security and his significance in money, imagining his wealth to be like a “strong city” with a “high wall” - from this height the rich think they can fend off all attackers (through their wealth).

Kidner – The world thinks that the unseen is the unreal. But it is not the man of God but the man of property, who must draw on his imagination to feel secure.

It propels him into a state worse than that of a fool.

Prov 26:12 Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Whoever relies on his riches will ultimately be unseated.

Prov 11:28 He who trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like foliage.

But whoever trusts in the Lord will be secure.

Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 
Prov 3:6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. 

The security of the rich person in his visible wealth is imaginary, as anyone who has faced a terminal illness knows, and the security of the righteous in his invisible God is real!

2.    There is a threshold of wealth that will simply overpower

Prov 30:7 Two things I request of You (deprive me not before I die): 
Prov 30:8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches — feed me with the food allotted to me; 
Prov 30:9 Lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the Lord?"or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God.

“He [King Agur] prays with all the intense earnestness of a dying man.”

King Agur is concerned that he might become insubordinate to God by deserting Him and desecrating His name.

He points to God, not human effort, as the savior to overcome human greed.

Question: How does you overcome the common human predicaments of: 
(a) naive ignorance (“remove falsehood…far from me”) and 
(b) godless materialism (“give me neither poverty nor riches…feed me with the food allotted to me”)?

Answer: through depending on God and desiring God’s fame

poverty and riches = These economic extremes are not the desires of the righteous, instead they are the circumstances that endanger character. 

King Agur is keenly alert to the spiritual & moral damage that either extreme economic state produces.

Derek Kidner – “Don’t embrace poverty out of laziness or romanticism.”

Which conditions stalk every step of the destitute? Death, starvation, forced labor, injustice, and the temptation to steal.

Kidner summarizes these verses: “Lead me not into temptation.”

Too much wealth seduces a person to deny God.

This is the only prayer found in Proverbs. It shows us King Agur’s:
(1)    humility of ambition – “do not deprive me before I die” – he asks for godly integrity, not great things to benefit self
(2)    humility of self-knowledge – “lest I be full and deny you…and profane the name of my God” – he could have prayed to be able to use poverty or riches correctly, but he knows his own weakness/frailty too well

“Who is the LORD?” = verbal apostasy

Moses also cautioned Israel against the moral jeopardy of apostasy when a people are too comfortable in their bounty:

Deut 8:11 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today,
Deut 8:12 lest — when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them;
Deut 8:13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;
Deut 8:14 when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage

“or lest I be poor and steal” – Why is this so dangerous?

Garrett – “Stealing may convince others that the LORD is of no help or that His laws are impossible to keep.” (deism/hypocrisy)


1.    It cannot satisfy your spiritual needs

Prov 15:16 Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, than great treasure with trouble. 

v.16 teaches the disciple to give priority to faith, not treasure

“fear of the Lord” = the opposite of “trouble” (here, inward turmoil)

“Trouble” = destructive confusion & panic that people inflict on themselves & others in their zeal to amass treasure

Money can never substitute for or adequately meet what your spirit longs for

It’s far better to fear God and not have very much, than to govern over a personal empire with the conflict & anxiety that necessarily comes with it.

Prov 15:17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a fatted calf with hatred.

This proverb teaches that loving one another cheers the spirit and strengthens the bonds of friendship during even the most deprived circumstances. 

This is better than the best circumstances when accompanied with hatred and rivalry that breaks the bonds of friendship.

Moffatt – calls “a fatted calf with hatred”: “wealth with worry”

“dinner of herbs” = small serving of vegetables = a wayfarer’s portion of food on his journey, a traveler’s vegetable meal represented the most modest meal in both quality and quantity.

Prov 17:1 Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife.

“where love is” = denotes that this meal is accompanied by the inward passion of cherishing others and desiring their company

Solomon is saying, “I would rather eat cheese and crackers with my closest friends, than to share a 5-course meal with a table full of people who resented me.”

1 Tim 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain.

Proverbs celebrates sufficiency and warns of the dangers of both scarcity and overabundance.

2.    It does not last

Prov 23:4 Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease! 

Waltke – “Do not become weary to make yourself rich; stop trusting in your own insight.”

“because of your own understanding, cease! = “have the wisdom to show restraint” = lit. “cease from your own insight/cleverness”

Your own cleverness is a pathetic substitute for trust in God.

God says, “put distance between you and your own insight – cease trusting in it – or even better, do not even begin to trust in it.”

Prov 23:5 Will you set your eyes on that which is not? For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven.

There is a wordplay that escalates in this verse. First your eyes “fly” to “what is not” (deceitfulness of wealth), then those same riches sprout wings and “fly away!”

The metaphor of the eagle is that it is swift and powerful. It cannot be captured – in the same way, riches will certainly disappear, and once gone, they are gone forever (“they fly away like an eagle toward heaven”).

Wealth is a BLESSING when it is acquired by:
(1)    diligence – Prov 10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

(2)    modesty – Prov 21:17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich. 

Wealth is a CURSE when it is acquired by ungodliness:

Prov 10:2 Treasures of wickedness profit nothing, but righteousness delivers from death.

Treasures of wickedness = “ill-gotten gain”

Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a severe evil which I have seen under the sun: riches kept for their owner to his hurt. 
Ecclesiastes 5:14 But those riches perish through misfortune; when he begets a son, there is nothing in his hand. 
Ecclesiastes 5:15 As he came from his mother's womb, naked shall he return, to go as he came; and he shall take nothing from his labor which he may carry away in his hand. 

When wealth is hastily gotten, it eventually disappears…

Prov 13:11 Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, but he who gathers by labor will increase. 

Prov 13:11 Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow. NIV

Jesus taught that wealth is fleeting in a parable:

Luke 12:16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully.
Luke 12:17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’
Luke 12:18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.
Luke 12:19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’  Luke 12:20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
Luke 12:21 “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”



1.    To live and enjoy life

Prov 10:22 The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.

Waltke – “As for the blessing of the Lord, it brings wealth, and he does not add painful toil with it.”

Yahweh is the agent who brings wealth, and He does not tarnish it with painful toil. In other words, strenuous work does not always guarantee a big payoff.

Kidner – Labor is not useless (it has much value and is necessary), only that labor unattended by divine blessing.

Waltke – The righteous person’s diligent hand works under the Lord’s benediction.

“He adds no sorrow with it” = “He adds no trouble to it,” or “He does not add painful toil with it” = rules out synergism

Righteous diligence is the means of God’s blessing, but His blessing does not depend on hard, strenuous toil alone.

Wounding labor comes from selfish ambition and stands under God’s judgment, not His blessing.

Prov 10:3 The Lord will not allow the righteous soul to famish, but He casts away the desire of the wicked.

Prov 12:9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, than he who honors himself but lacks bread. 

Prov 12:9 Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant than pretend to be somebody and have no food. NIV

Waltke – “Better to be one who is held as worthless and yet has a slave, than to be one who exalts himself and is one who lacks bread.”

“better” = better off, more enviable; It is more enviable to be successful anonymously than to languish in the public eye.

illus: To live comfortably without social importance is better than an outward show of affluence to win public praise that actually conceals poverty. Ex. The Millionaire Next Door…

The petty person unwisely spends his sparse resources to keep up a vain show.

Some pretend competence but in fact are not up to the task; and some pretend to be religious but in reality, are spiritually bankrupt.

This modest individual allows himself to be slighted by society in order not to live above his means.

He lives like no one else (ignoring ridicule), so that later he can live like no one else!

Kidner – “Threadbare gentility.”

“lacks bread” = “have no food” = lacking the basics to sustain life.

The pretentious is a slave to human opinion and doomed to shame

Prov 11:2 When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom. 

Prov 14:24 The crown of the wise is their riches, but the foolishness of fools is folly. 

This proverb is about what a person harvests by his life choices.

The wise are often crowned with wealth; by contrast folly is its own reproach and its own harvest.

Waltke – a crown is a visible sign of God’s favor on the wise, giving them social gravitas, dignity, and dominion and enabling them to confront a threat

While the disciple must not trust in wealth, and wealth can be gotten by vice, it is also true that the Lord rewards virtue with wealth!

1 Kings 3:10 The speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
1 Kings 3:11 Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, 
1 Kings 3:12 behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.
1 Kings 3:13 And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.”

2.    To serve and enrich the community

Prov 11:25 The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself. 
Prov 11:26 The people will curse him who withholds grain, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.

Waltke – “A life bestowing blessing will be fattened, and as for the one who drenches, he in turned will be soaked.”
Waltke – “As for the one who withholds grain, people curse him, but blessing [is] on the head of the one who sells it.”

Especially in countries where people have little to eat, the metaphor “be fattened” (be made rich) denotes wealth, abundance, full satisfaction, and health.

drenched, refreshed = water for an abundant harvest

v. 26 the paradox that generosity gains and stinginess negates, is now put in terms of selling grain, presumably at normal market value versus hoarding it implicitly in starvation to drive up the price (price-gouging).

the man who hoards grain = the trader who holds back from sale life’s subsistence, exploiting the needs of others to advantage himself

grain = symbolizes life’s necessities, not luxuries; in ancient Israel grain was the most important of all the crops

blessing crowns him who is willing to sell = reference to Joseph

Gen 41:56 The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt.


1.    Have nothing to do with unrighteous gain

Prov 15:6 In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble.

The righteous have a storehouse of grain; the wicked have a paycheck of ruin.


a.    Greed and violence go hand in hand


Prov 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.
Prov 1:11 If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause;
Prov 1:12 Let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
Prov 1:13 We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil;
Prov 1:14 Cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse” —

These wicked men promise 3 universal allurements:
(1) excitement vv.11-12 “let’s lie in wait to shed blood…let us swallow them alive…” 
(2) easy money v.13 “We shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil”
(3) camaraderie v.14 “Cast your lot among us, let us all have one purse”

Powerful people see the world as a place to be conquered; vain artists as a stage from which to win applause; the covetous as a place for transferring wealth from the bank account of others into their own.

Sinners love wealth and use people. Saints love people and use wealth to help others.

b.    Unjust gain brings judgment 

Prov 1:15 My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path;
Prov 1:16 For their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood.
Prov 1:17 Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird;
Prov 1:18 But they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives.
Prov 1:19 So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; it takes away the life of its owners.

Not only is the path of sinners wrong; it is also stupid! (they jeopardize their own blood & their own lives).

v.19 is OT for “gaining the world but losing your soul.”

Mark 8:36 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 

Unjust gain clings to the criminal and eventually destroys him.

2.    Not by laziness but by diligence

Prov 10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. 
Prov 10:5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son; he who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame. 

Diligence is the opposite of idleness. To be diligent is to not be lazy. 

It means to plan ahead in life: pay now/play later or vice versa.

Prov 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.

To put it bluntly, the diligent rise to the top while the lazy sink to the bottom.

3.    Not by miserliness but by generosity 

Prov 3:9 Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 
Prov 3:10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. 

Misers give God what is left over…if they are generous towards Him at all!

Derek Kidner – To “know God” in our financial ways is to see that these honor Him; the honor will be comprised largely of homage (in giving Him the first and not the later share), of gratitude, and of trust; for such giving in the face of material pressures is a simple test of faith.