Proverbs 16:16

How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!

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How important is money to you? How many hours a day do you work for it? How many days a week? How many years of school did you complete before you got your job? How much energy do you expend? What kind of difficulties do you put up with cheerfully?

Would $1,000,000 in your mailbox put a smile on your face? Do you fret about not having enough? Wisdom and understanding are more important. Get your priorities right. You should have a smile on your face knowing wisdom is in the Bible, and you should fret about not applying yourself as diligently to its pursuit as you should.

Men work hard to obtain money, for money answers all things – it supplies necessities for life (Pr 16:26; Eccl 10:12). They attend school for many years; they undergo training after that; they put forth great effort; they endure many difficulties; they fret when there is not enough; they devise plans to acquire more; they beg for God’s assistance. But how many apply these kinds of efforts to obtain wisdom and understanding? What about you?

Wisdom is power of right judgment – ability to know the best response to any situation to please God and men. Understanding is power of right discernment – ability to grasp the totality of factors in any matter to see the issue perfectly. What glorious things! No wonder David told Solomon to get wisdom and understanding above all else (Pr 4:5-9)! So when God offered Solomon any request, he chose them above all else (I Kgs 3:5-14)!

Your greatest goal in life should be to grow in wisdom and understanding – to please God and good men more perfectly and to profit all those in your sphere of activity. Nothing else can truly compare to this goal. Yet most men apply their greatest desire, planning, effort, and time to pursuit of money – gold or silver. But Solomon by this proverb warns you that such are perverse priorities. Wisdom is greater than any amount of money!

If a poor man told you that wisdom was more important than money, it would be easy to dismiss his instruction as an invalid comparison from a man who had never known the power and benefits of wealth. But that is not the case in this proverb. Solomon had riches, glory, and honor exceeding any king before or after him. He knew all about money and its benefits. But he told you to rank wisdom and understanding much higher.

Though the proverb begins with an interrogative, “How,” there is no question! It is an exclamation. Note the punctuation. Without any stated limits, wisdom and understanding are infinitely better than gold and silver. There is no comparison. Solomon emphatically told you a priority and rule for life – wisdom is far more important than money. Yet you are tempted every day to spend most or all of your energy and time in chasing money.

Did other rich men make this comparison and conclude the same? Indeed! First, consider Solomon in other places as well, since he was the richest man of history (Pr 3:15-18; 8:10-11,19). Then consider his father David (Ps 19:7-11; 119:14,72,127,162). And then also consider the rich men Job (Job 28:12-28) and Moses (Heb 11:24-26).

A proverb is only valuable, if you apply it. You spend your life pursuing an inferior thing – money. How diligently do you pursue wisdom? Do you read your Bible daily? Study a proverb and its interpretation? Carefully prepare for, listen to, and then review preaching? There are 1,440 minutes in every day. If you gave 1% for wisdom, you would spend 15 minutes reading and praying daily. If you gave 10%, that is 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth – the Mighty God of heaven – knew and understood this proverb. His kingdom, which is the gospel reign of righteousness and wisdom described in the New Testament, is worth more than any treasure on earth. He described men selling all that they had in order to purchase the kingdom of heaven, for it is worth far more than any thing on earth (Matt 13:44-46). Does this describe you, good reader?