He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
Do you want financial success? Then do a basic job well, day after day, obeying the economic wisdom in Proverbs. It will work! God and Solomon guarantee it! Stop going to promotional meetings, hating to work for others, listening to too-good-to-be-true investment ideas, or daydreaming about a better life. Make pleasure and rest your last thoughts (Pr 21:17,20). Consistent hard work at a needed job will work. Following the lying promises of promoters will not work. Learn wisdom: love work: hate distractions!
Men by nature are greedy and lazy. They want more of the good things of life than others have, but they want to exert themselves less than others to get them. Therefore they are tempted by two economic sins – to resent their basic jobs and/or listen to pipe dreams. Learn wisdom: love work: hate greed! Because Solomon had observed these temptations destroying men’s financial lives, he repeated this proverb in similar language (Pr 12:11).
Who in the world wants to be a farmer, when he could be a real estate tycoon driving a sports car and making deals on his cell phone of houses purchased with no money down? Who would choose to be a nurse, when she could be an international photographer for an Internet news magazine? Why be a factory slave, when you could use multilevel marketing of a mineral substitute for Viagra made from sea salt to live on a yacht by 30?
Farming was not the only job in Solomon’s day. But it best illustrated the lesson of this proverb. Farming required hard work, planning, patience, and repetition. It was the most basic of jobs – using the earth to produce food and/or to use the food to raise cattle or other animals for various products. But tilling a field behind oxen became boring and stupid when you heard fantastic rumors of network marketing riches in clothes soap!
The tortoise beats the hare financially. While the tortoise plods forward an inch at a time toward his economic goals, the hare runs at full speed from distraction to distraction, some costing him precious capital, and all costing him valuable time. When they come to the day of reckoning, the faithful labors, sound investments, and patience of the tortoise have given him a comfortable estate. The hare is exhausted, frustrated, and broke!
Solomon despised get-rich-quick schemes. He saw poor men make good income, but foolish ideas wasted it (Pr 13:23). Diligent labor in a basic job brings success (Pr 27:18). Talking about financial fantasies makes men poor (Pr 14:23). Getting distracted from the job at hand is terrible (Pr 27:23-27). Increase is by strength and leverage, not scheming (Pr 14:4). He saw financial exceptions destroying fools looking for a free lunch (Pr 1:32).
Vain persons are everywhere, especially with radio, television, telephones, magazines, newspapers, the Internet, and email. They promote the rich and famous, though they are only 1 out of 10,000. They offer impossible returns to steal your savings for themselves. Governments offer lotteries that are nothing but a tax on the poor and stupid. And liars flaunt the extravagant lifestyle of multilevel marketing “successes,” while ignoring the 98% that bought the overpriced product to pay for the “success.” The net result of these and all other financial “shortcuts” is always negative – you lose! Going down?
Why do any listen to such nonsense? Why would anyone consider lies from a person trying to fleece them of their hard earned money? There are only a few reasons. All of them are sins. Two have been given – discontentment with your job and covetousness for a different life. In addition, some do not like submitting to other men, which is simply pride and rebellion. And last, some through willful ignorance do not examine things with a critical and pessimistic eye to avoid lying snakes (Pr 14:15; 15:22; 27:12; I Thess 5:21).
This generation is obsessed with ease and pleasure – amusement, games, recreation, sports, and relaxation – but these things ruin men financially. If you love pleasure, you are going to be poor (Pr 21:17). If you love sleep, you are going to be poor (Pr 20:4,13). You will learn to despise work, because it is not as much fun to you as riotous living and sleeping in (Pr 19:15). You will waste your money on foolish amusements (Pr 21:20; Luke 15:13). And this childish lifestyle will take you down (Pr 23:21).
Your safety is in God’s word. Hard work works (Pr 10:4; 13:4; 22:29). Haste makes financial waste (Pr 19:2; 28:20,22). Believe nothing without proof, especially testimonials or “results” above market rates (Pr 13:11; 14:15; 22:3). Taking the easy road will ruin you economically (Pr 6:9-11; 24:30-34). Only one document in the world is totally true – the Bible. Everyone and everything else are liars (Rom 3:4). Obey this proverb; love your job; do it well each day; thank God for success. If you scoff at or neglect this proverb, you will wake up poor with a hardworking neighbor ruling over you.
The proverb’s lesson applies to religious pursuits as well. There is no get-spiritual-quick seminar or television offering that can compete with daily prayer and Bible reading and listening carefully to the preaching of God’s word (II Tim 3:6-7; 4:1-4). Do not follow the vain religious personalities that offer their seductive road to God and heaven. They are liars just like the financial hucksters. There is only one door and Shepherd of the sheep, and the abundant life is obtained by obeying Him and His words (John 10:1-18).