The Holy Bible which God holds more highly than His own name (Psalm 138:2) has been given to us as The Guide to life. It is as First Peter 1:23 says, the very living Word of God, and “God-breathed, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work” (Second Timothy 3:16-17).
From this set of 66 books, and in a current search to explain evil and suffering, American Christianity has evolved the concept of the health and wealth movement, otherwise known as the Prosperity Gospel, a biblically held view which places major emphasis on God’s power. This view it that not only is God is so powerful, but that He is more than willing to employ this power, such that if Christians have sufficient faith, God will shield them completely from living in this fallen world. The Prosperity Gospel holds that both material prosperity and physical health are available to all believers, if only they have enough faith. Teachers and proponents of this movement hold to Isaiah 53:5 in particular, as an absolute confirmation that when Jesus died, he secured healing for us, in His death. They refer also to other Old Testament scriptures which promise blessings for Israel in the Promised Land, as proof that God will overcome evil in the lives of Christians today, and at the same time, grant them prosperity.
The Book of Proverbs is a compilation of what at the time were held to be ‘universal wisdoms.’ Compiled mainly be Solomon, the Book of Proverbs still holds true for us today, as the very living Word of God. The universal truths or universal wisdoms which Solomon, Agur and King Lemuel gathered together over a period of some 250 years, have not gone out of fashion or style. Though the Book of Proverbs contain no direct references to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit receives passing recognition in Proverbs 1:23 as the writer records “Turn at my warning; behold, I will pour out my Spirit to you; I will make my words known to you.”
What can we gain, therefore, from the Book of Proverbs which will directly profit our lives today?
Starting initially with the opposite view of wealth, Proverbs 22:16 is very clear on how to ensure poverty, saying “He who crushes the poor to multiply for himself, and he who gives to the rich, only to come to poverty.” In other words, as the ESV says “Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.”
The converse, therefore, ought to be equally true: those who give to the poor unselfishly, will be financially blessed. Indeed this resonates with the New Testament, where we find that Jesus came for the poor and the sinners, not the rich and the righteous.
As we read on into Proverbs 22:17-21 we find interestingly that these verses are not written as proverbs but are clear directions on how to profit from the wisdom and advice which we have been previously given:
“Bow down your ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to My knowledge.
For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; they shall all be fitted in your lips, so that your trust may be in Jehovah, I have made known to you this day, even to you.
Have I not written to you excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make you know the sureness of the words of truth; to return the words of truth to those who send to you? “
The threefold commands as how to profit are really quite simple:
1 Bow down your ear: This simple action of bowing down ones ear immediately puts on in a position of humility before whomever you are listening to. Psalm 51:17 speaks to this saying “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.“
2 Hear the words of the wise: This is a truth which is often quoted in the Bible. From this we need to remember that what is in the bible is important, when repeated, it is doubly important and when repeated yet again, are words we must abide with and never forget. The following give some indication of God’s view on this matter:
Job 34:2 “Hear my words, wise men; and give ear to me, you who have knowledge.”
Proverbs 8:33 “Hear instruction, and be wise, and do not refuse it.”
Proverbs 13:1 “A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a scorner does not hear rebuke.”
Proverbs 19:20 “Hear advice, and receive instruction, so that you may be wise in your latter end.”
Proverbs 23:19 “My son, hear and be wise, and guide your heart in the way.”
Ecclesiastes 7:5 “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools.”
3 Apply your heart to the knowledge: Applying one’s heart to knowledge is to know and use the knowledge. Again the New Testament supports this principle in quantity and detail:
James 1:3 “knowing that the trying of your faith works patience.”
James 2:17 “Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself.”
James 2:18 “But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works.”
James 2:20 “But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
James 2:26 “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Let us now look at the four-fold purpose of these commands:
1 That one may receive personal pleasure and profit to the soul (v18).
2 That one may get experimental knowledge and be equipped therefore and thereby, to speak to others for their profit (v18 & v21).
3 That one may learn to trust in the Lord (v19).
4 That one may know the absolute certainty of truth (v21)
This is God’s “Prosperity Gospel” for us. This is God’s Good News, that if we will take the knowledge which He has given us, and meditate on it and then apply it in accordance with the wishes of God, then we shall be blessed. This is how we can profit at all times and in any state in which we may find the World, for remember it was Jesus who said in Matthew 6:19-20
“Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal”.
We have been given detailed instruction on how to do this. Now we just need to act.