He that trusteth in his riches shall fall; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
Should you trust money for happiness? Fools call it financial independence or security. They think riches will protect and prosper them. But the man trusting money and wealth will fall and be destroyed, while he with a righteous life will be protected and prospered.
God sent rich King Solomon to warn you about the deceitful illusion of riches. Here is a lesson to keep you from wasting your life chasing a pipe dream. Though he admitted money can help in some situations, if God blesses it, personal righteousness will help in all situations, for it guarantees God’s blessings of all kinds for both time and eternity.
If a poor man wrote these words, you could suspect he criticized wealth out of envy at the luxurious lifestyles of the rich. You could justifiably discount or ignore his words, because you would know he had no experience with money. However, King Solomon, the richest king of Israel, wrote these words. And the Lord his God inspired the wisdom.
Solomon taught wisdom by comparisons. He said, “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right” (Pr 16:8). His father David had taught, “A little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked” (Ps 37:16). The world, the devil, and your flesh reject this advice, for they want to sell you greed and covetousness. Is the testimony of God, David, and Solomon enough for you to believe this proverb?
The man that trusts his riches will fall. What will he do when he discovers that he is still not content but wants even more (Eccl 5:10)? When he learns that his expenses have increased as fast as income (Eccl 5:11)? When his wife wins a huge alimony settlement? When the taxing authority wants interest and penalties for back taxes? When he realizes his children are fools and will quickly waste his inheritance once they have it?
What will you do, when the doctor says, “You have cancer; there is nothing we can do”? Will you spend all to cure an incurable disease? Will you buy morphine to ease the pain before you get to die? Will you buy life insurance that will be impossibly expensive? Will you buy Buddhist or Catholic candles? Will you buy food you cannot enjoy? Or will you finally trust God, Who helps the righteous even on their sickbed (Ps 41:1-3)?
Consider two rich men that Jesus used as horrible examples of trusting riches. One lived and ate luxuriously every day, but he went to hell when he died, while the destitute and diseased beggar at his gate went to heaven (Luke 16:19-25). Another rich man boasted to himself about plans to build bigger barns to store his increase, but God called him a fool, and asked who would get his estate, for he was to die that very night (Luke 12:15-21).
Having wealth is not a sin, for great men in the Bible were rich, but trusting in riches is sin (Ps 62:10). It is the ambition and desire for wealth that is fatal (Pr 23:4-5; I Tim 6:6-11). It is humanly impossible for such men to be converted (Mark 10:21-27). They foolishly trust in their riches without regard for death (Ps 49:6-14). Only God’s grace can save a fool whose lust and pursuit of money denies God like an idolater (Job 31:24-28).
The prophet Agur prayed for God to save him from poverty and riches (Pr 30:7-9). Riches are a pain to get and to keep, and you cannot take them with you (Eccl 5:10-12; I Tim 6:7-8). Godly men put God first and business a distant second (Matt 6:24,33). They know the true measure of success is godliness with contentment (I Tim 6:6). When wealth increases, they spend it for God’s glory and people (Acts 4:34-37; I Tim 6:17-19).
The righteous man is like a branch, tightly connected to God his Saviour (John 15:5). He trusts God for all things, and he prospers perpetually (Ps 1:1-6; Jer 17:7-8). What a difference between a leaf and a branch! A leaf lasts only a season, and then it is gone. A branch, though it may look bare during the winters of life, will bud and blossom again, reaching even higher than before, until it is transplanted into the very presence of God.
Salvation and faith make all the difference in the world. A man with eternal life has everything that matters. He is a child of God by election and regeneration, and God has richly given him faith, joy, peace, and hope (II Thess 2:13; Rom 15:13). This man low in the world’s opinion should rejoice (Jas 1:9; Ps 73:18-28). On the other hand, a rich and famous man falls sick by his weakness, then is thrown into the grave, and then into hell. If he could, he would scream to warn you to be ambitious toward God rather than riches.