Proverbs 15:16

Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith.


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Get your priorities right. Live a great life. Grasp the meaning and value of this incredible proverb. The wisest and richest king ever gave inspired insight into maximizing your life.

Solomon experimented extensively with everything possible in life, comparing all things and their results for you, so you can avoid the perplexity and pain of a misguided life. He was most qualified to do so, for God gave him great wisdom, wealth, power, and peace.

He immersed himself in every pursuit from knowledge to pleasure, from construction to mirth. He had 1000 wives, his own zoo, and his own orchestra and choir. He accumulated wealth and properties until he was the richest in the world. He tried everything – he assessed the outcomes both intelligently and foolishly. His analysis of life is invaluable.

What did Solomon conclude after testing every possible means for human happiness and purpose in life? Read it: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl 12:13). There should be no questions in your mind. This is the most important thing for you to find and keep.

What is better – being poor with the fear of the LORD, or being rich without it? The answer is simple. And it was a rich king that wrote it. The fear of the LORD is the key to your life: it has the greatest reward, and it will save you from trouble. Neither assets nor income can bring the contentment, joy, and blessing of God that fearing Him will bring.

What is the fear of the LORD? It is eager reverence and affection for the Creator God that fills the soul with confident and satisfying pleasure. It leads to hatred for sin and a strong desire for holiness. It causes sober reading of His scriptures and eager desire to learn more. It leads to a life of godliness and love with fruit the world can never bear.

Fearing God results in godly living in truth and wisdom. Note the contrast with “trouble.” Fearing God will bring peace and joy, confidence and contentment, and all the blessings of heaven (Pr 10:22; Ps 112:1-3; 115:13; 128:1-6; 147:11; 145:19). Guaranteed! Why would you want anything else? Do not let the world deceive you with their lying vanities.

Consider just two examples of blessing from fearing the LORD Jehovah. First, it is the foundation of wisdom and knowledge (Pr 1:7; 9:10). Therefore, you will be wiser than peers or teachers. Second, God constantly searches the earth to find those that fear Him, so He can show His strength in blessing them (II Chron 16:9; Ps 112:1-3; 25:12-14).

Riches and wealth alone are vanity and vexation of spirit, as Solomon admitted in detail. But they are even more so with the trouble that comes from not fearing the Lord (Pr 10:22; 12:21; 19:23). Even poverty can be good, if you fear the Lord. If all this is true, and it is, great care must be used to marry and live with one fearing the LORD (Pr 31:30).

Who cares what you have in the bank, if you know the living God and His Son Jesus Christ? It does not matter what you eat or wear, or where you live. The fear of the LORD is a gift from heaven in your soul, for the world has none (Rom 3:18). God mercifully chose to adopt you as His child from earth’s masses of those that hate and disobey Him.

Thousands of martyrs, though burned at the stake slowly and painfully by their enemies, had great hope and peace, for their hearts were filled with the fear of the LORD. They would not bow to any man, agree to any heresy, or defraud their Savior or His scriptures of even one ounce of glory. No assets or income could provide the relief they enjoyed.

Most think, and many Christians foolishly agree, that gain is godliness – getting ahead must prove God’s blessings in your life (I Tim 6:3-5). But they are very wrong, for Solomon taught that God blesses fools with prosperity in order to judge them (Pr 1:32). There is a better rule you need: “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim 6:6).

Solomon wrote other rules similar to this proverb: “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right” (Pr 16:8). “Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich” (Pr 28:6). “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked” (Ps 37:16).

The greatest treasure hunt in life is not to be a millionaire, but rather to find and obtain wisdom, which is the ability to know and do the right thing in any situation. By wisdom you can please both God and men, and your life will be blessed naturally and spiritually. Where is wisdom found? Read Job’s intriguing and lengthy description (Job 28:1-28).

You were just taught a rule for life by the wisest and richest man ever. You could not afford an hour of his time, if he were alive and selling advice. But he freely wrote it to you. What will you do? Will you burn yourself out professionally in the pursuit of riches? Or will you seek the fear of the Lord by His word and preachers to maximize life?