Breakfast with Solomon - Proverbs 3:16
"Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor"
This is really the phrase length of days which would be the Hebrew way of saying long life; the amount of days that you are on this planet is lengthened. Following the path of wisdom will cause your destiny to change. You will select that destiny in which you live longer. God knows all the possibilities of the all the possibilities, and He knows what your life will look like if you begin making wise choices. You can change your destiny. You can select one of the good and beneficial destinies that God has chosen for you. It is not possible to get off the map of God, but God has marked out several possible pathways that you can take. Those who follow Him and embrace wisdom, forgiveness, and righteousness live a completely different life than those who just go with selfishness, bitterness, greed, materialism, and arrogance. It is important to realize that God is holding out hope. You can live a different destiny than the foolish broken one that will be your lot unless you change. If you choose wisdom as your guiding principle, then your destiny will change to include longer life; higher monetary levels; more respect; higher comfort; and less strife, fighting, and contention with others. It does not matter when you decide to get on the wisdom road; your future will be different. It is best when you are a teen; but if you are in your 20s or 40s or 60s, the wisdom road will still pay out a better result than any other plan you might come up with.
Notice that these results are the consequences of choosing wisely during your life. It is not magic or some special power. It is that the choices that wisdom would direct you to make accumulate completely different results than foolishness does.
right hand and left hand
In Hebrew thinking, the right hand was the place of prominence and significance. Even in our own thinking, we call a person my right-hand guy when we want to say that they are indispensable and the key player. Solomon is saying that the path of wisdom builds long life and long life is the key player in establishing the path of wisdom. Its benefits accumulate over time. The path of wisdom is not a get-rich-quick scheme. It is a gain-blessings-slowly scheme.
In other words, you must have a longer time for wisdom to show its benefits. Over a short time, it may appear as though the fool's path pays out as well as the wise path. This is what happens over the course of the short four years of high school or college. It looks like the fool who gets drunk and parties and takes all the selfish risks is winning. After all, they don't seem to be paying for their embrace of selfishness and instead they get the girls/boys, the popularity, the "fun," etc. But what is not seen is the virus of selfishness that is infecting their soul and its cancerous effect. What is also not seen is the rich advantage that the person on the path of wisdom is gaining.
Jesus' comments here are very important. "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?" There are people who pursue the world’s goods and, in the pursuit, infect their soul with a bacteria that destroys it so that they are rich in this world's goods but have no soul and no relationship with God or others. Instead, Jesus would suggest – as Solomon did 1,000 years before – that one seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you. Seek a rich, deep soul knowing God and enjoying deep relationships with others. What good is having a beautiful piano if getting it made you deaf?
This is the Hebrew word oser which means wealth, riches. The idea is that one has riches when one has an abundance beyond what is needed to sustain one for the next day or week. Riches are treasures that have been built up so that one can sustain oneself into the foreseeable future and so that one can be generous with others who are truly in need.
In our day the majority are not encouraged to be disciplined with their money so they can accumulate wealth for their later years. Our culture is all about spending and consuming now. Therefore we have no savings and little retirement investments. We do not see that our cultural value of “enjoy it all right now” is foolishness and a form of selfishness. All financial advisors tell us that if we would be willing to send a little bit away each month automatically deducted from what we make, we will end up wealthy when we can no longer earn a living. All it takes is ten percent of our income sent away to some reasonable investment savings. But we are too often pursuing a fool’s lifestyle in the here and now.
Choose your destiny today. Talk to people at your work and set up a retirement account in which the ten percent or the maximum contribution you can make will be automatically taken out of your paycheck. Then figure out what standard of living you can maintain. Or tell the person in payroll that when the next raise comes, you want it to be completely given to retirement. Do that twice or three times and then you can get all the raises.
Remember, wisdom is small choices now that are righteous and glorify God, benefit others, and yourself. They usually are long-term decisions. Don't wait; start doing this now.
This is the Hebrew word kobed which means great. It means significant, valuable, worthy of honor for their contribution. When one chooses wisdom over folly, they are choosing contribution over consumption. Wisdom chooses to make small important contributions to society, to family, to church, to themselves, to friends. It is those seemingly small but important contributions that build up and cause those around you to realize how valuable you are to them.
It is important to realize that one must continue to make these contributions until they become second nature. When it is your habit to make choices and pursue actions that do not just benefit you but also benefit the people in your life, it builds up bonds and joy in your life and in theirs. Do not underestimate the value of the people in your life; their opinion of you will make you or break you. It is their opinion of how valuable you are that changes everything. Choosing the path of wisdom is making the decision to make a contribution to their success. You will all succeed together; wisdom is not a doormat philosophy in which you destroy yourself for their success. No, wisdom is finding the choice and the action in which they are benefited and you also are benefited. It is the triple-win that you are after.