Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 20:15
"There is gold, and an abundance of jewels; but the lips of knowledge are a more precious thing"
What do you really believe is the most precious thing you can go after with your life? If the answer is money, wealth, or possessions then you are wrong. Now there are two ways to give the answer of what you think is most important: 1) What you say is the most important; 2) What you demonstrate is most important through your actions.
There are a number of popular books circulating at the time I am writing this devotion that deals with how to be rich, what rich people think like, and the difference between how rich people and poor people use money. Many of these books make the assumption that you are going to agree that having lots of money is the goal in life. This assumption is what allows them to study people who have lots of money and then recommend what they all do, so that you can have lots of money also. The problem with this idea is that many of these very rich people have no life; they just have money. Many of them are greedy and hoarding and stingy. Many of those described will pass up some of life's righteous delights in order to have more money.
Having a large sum of money at the end of life is not the goal of life. Having a wealth of wisdom and knowledge is the goal of life because if you have wisdom and knowledge, you get all the other things that make life enjoyable and full of meaning. But if you aim at money and get it, you may not get all of the other things – crucial possessions like wisdom, love, relationships, knowledge, humility, connection to God, etc. This proverb is a very important corrective to the materialism of our present culture. It is interesting that Solomon was directed by God to bring this corrective to a culture 3,000 years ago and the cultures between his and ours. They all needed this corrective. MONEY IS NOT THE GOAL OF LIFE; WISDOM IS THE GOAL OF LIFE. Money is a circumstance of life. It is certainly better to have it – if it is righteously obtained - than to be without it.
This is the Hebrew word peninim which means coral or treasures from the depths of the sea. This could have been pearls, coral necklaces, or other jewelry. This was a great rarity for a non-seafaring people. It is translated here jewels and corals were made into jewelry at that time, but this word is used for the rare materials that were taken out of the sea and used for various decorative purposes. Job 28:18 and Lamentations 4:7 use this word.
lips of knowledge
This is the Hebrew word daat which means knowledge. Knowledge is usually new information and new skills. In other words, Solomon is saying that if you had a choice between being hugely independently wealthy and being able to utilize your information and skills, then always choose to use your information and your skills. The information that you have amassed over a lifetime that actually works, and the skills that you have mastered are more precious than any amount of wealth. It is better to have real information and be able to dispense it convincingly and powerfully and to have a clear understanding of your own skill-set and what you bring to any situation.
Don't get sidetracked by the promise of great wealth. Go after making your contribution to the world at large and the faithful of God. There will be times when you will be offered a quick or easier route to money. It is at that point that Solomon's advice comes back and whispers in our ear. Don't go after the wrong thing. Try and end life with a heart full of wisdom which is Moses' way of saying it.