Proverbsby David Cook
Comparison is a common literary device in Proverbs; the writers use it to stress the value of an object or quality by comparing it with another. They often compare material and spiritual wealth, or internal and external values, showing that one is far more valuable than the other. Let's take another look at several ″Better . . . than . . .″ examples in Proverbs 15 and 16.
More wealth is usually seen as better than less, but not if it means neglecting to acknowledge the Lord and His sovereignty in our lives (15:16). Not doing so will only lead to turmoil. Reverence for the Lord is more important than material gain.
It is better to have less to eat (a simple meal of vegetables) but enjoy loving relationships, than to have a feast of meat but have no love in one's life (15:17). This comparison stresses the value of relationships and contentment over material wealth.
Again, it is better to have less if it comes with righteousness, rather than more if the gain comes as a result of injustice (16:8).
Wisdom and good judgment are better than gold and silver, which the world values (16:16). This is a central truth emphasised in Proverbs. Wealth cannot buy wisdom, and must never be gained at the expense of wisdom. Riches are not necessarily bad, but not when it results in pride (16:19). It is better to be poor and to be counted with the oppressed than to be proud.
These comparisons stress the ultimate importance of fear of the Lord, relationships, inner satisfaction, righteousness, wisdom, and humility. Believers are reminded to seek these values first-even if it means giving up the benefits of wealth and status, which the world places great value.
Followers of Jesus will never regret the decision to follow Him, for they will be rewarded either in this life or the next. Not only is the Lord Jesus better than any alternative, but He is the best. He has ″become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption″ (1 Corinthians 1:30). May we say as Peter did: ″Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life″ (John 6:68).
How has God blessed you in areas other than material wealth? Spend some time thanking Him today.
Think about the times when you have had to choose between material wealth and reverence for the Lord, righteousness, justice, or wisdom. How did you respond? How can the comparisons of Proverbs 15 and 16 guide you?