- Dr. Stieglitz
Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 16:11
"A just balance and scales belong to the Lord; all the weights of the bag are His concern"
This is the Hebrew word peles which means balance or scale.
This is the Hebrew word m'zn which means balance or scale.
This is the Hebrew word eben which means stone.
In the marketplace commerce that was conducted in those days, every merchant had a scale so that the amount of goods that were being sold or traded could be "weighed" on one side and the gold, silver, or goods that were being accepted as payment could be "weighed" on the other. Both parties had to assume that the balance or scales were accurate.
If a merchant was cheating his customers by having a rigged scale, this was of great concern to the Lord. Some commentators suggest that unscrupulous merchants had different weights for different customers. Those that were knowledgeable or who brought their own scale would be weighed with the true weights. Those who were gullible or naive would be weighed with lighter weights that looked official but were not. In this way they would receive less goods for the same money.
Solomon is saying to business people: Are you cheating people? It could be that you are charging more to people who are less savvy in business. You are taking advantage of them. It could be that you are producing an inferior product that will fail in a short period. It could be that you have a kick-back system which is the same as a rigged scale for preferred customers.
It is not wrong to have discounted prices for higher quantities, but these quantities and the discounts must be available to everyone who meets the criteria.
If the interchange between a merchant and a customer completely depends upon the skill of the customer to negotiate a good price out of the merchant, then this idea of different weights and scales for different customers is in vogue. This is not righteous. This is why most people find purchasing a car such a distasteful process. Unless they are a shrewd negotiator, they know that they are being maneuvered into paying a higher price for the car than they need to. Even if you get a good price in those situations, you feel dirty for the combat wrestling you have done with the merchant. You feel that this merchant would be more than willing to make you pay thousands of dollars more than what is a fair exchange for both parties.
When you are a seller and your thinking is that the price of my goods and/or services is whatever I can get out of the buyer, you are violating this verse. What is a fair price for the product or services? State the price and if there are discounts for certain reasons, see if those apply.
A safe and just society cannot be built on unscrupulous business dealings. God does not turn a blind eye to the way a person conducts their business affairs. How you live your life matters before a just and holy God.
This is the Hebrew word maaseh which means deed or work. Solomon is saying that it is not just the temple or religious aspects of the society that God is concerned with. How a person conducts their business matters to Him. Are you cheating people? Do you take advantage of people in your business dealings? This is not right and God wants you to act righteously.
It is unfortunate these days as we have moved away from the clear understanding in our culture that there is an Almighty Righteous God - that businesses believe that they have no one to answer to unless they are caught by the government. There will be a judgment day and how you conduct business is how you determine if you are in God's will. Be righteous and fair.
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