Summary: People who believe that the whole earth & every thing in it belongs to their Lord (Ps. 24:1) readily recognize that the resources of their own lives, which, no matter how hard they toiled and how judiciously they spent, were utterly dependent on God's gra

Proverbs 11:24–26


[2 Kings 4:1–7]

Proverbs offers practical instructions on the use of money, although sometimes it's advice we would rather not hear. It is more comfortable to continue in our habits than to learn how to use money more wisely. Money is essential for living but our use of our resources and the consequent accountability for their use under God was part of God's teaching to Israel. The relevance to our affluent times is obvious.

People who believe that the whole earth and every thing in it belongs to their Lord (Ps. 24:1) readily recognize that the resources of their own lives, which, no matter how hard they toiled and how judiciously they spent, were utterly dependent on God's grace. God's gracious blessings were given not to be hoarded but to be shared. For when shared they become like the inexhaustible supply of oil lavished on the widow in Elisha's day (2 Kg. 4:1–7).

Neighborliness is reason enough to help, since these people lived close to each other for mutual provision and protection. But even more important was the blessing of God promised to those who generously gave to God's work and God's people. These instructions on generosity sprinkled throughout Proverbs will show us the ways and the people we are to help with their needs (CIM).

Proverbs 11:24-26 encourage generosity. The resupply of generosity demonstrates the principle of reward that God has woven into the fabric of creation. They also show how different His ways may be from ours. Proverb 11:24 brings to light an apparent paradox or oxymoron. "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty."

By giving freely a person has plenty, a seeming paradox (2 Cor. 9:6). Conversely a person who is miserly, failing to help others in obvious need, will himself always be in need (28:22).

The one who gives gains; the one who withholds loses. A penny hoarded could be a penny lost. The strong verb "scatters" indicates distributing widely, generously, perhaps brashly, even paying little attention to where the generosity goes. Yet the wealth of the generous "increases" more than the amount given away. Like a seed which seems lost for a time til it springs up again bringing even more seed with it.

The selfish person has the opposite experience. He tenaciously hangs on to ("withholds," maintains very tight control) his goods, considering his responsibilities and his neighbors' needs. When he finally opens his clenched fist, his increase has disappeared. What he deemed prudence "leads to poverty." He who wanted to make sure he had more than he needed ended in complete lack [as "poverty" means literally in Hebrew (14:23; 21:5; 22:16). The selfish person who sought to help himself only has pitiful results. Give and get or hoard and lose.

Proverb 11:25 teaches that a reward for generosity is the enrichment of the soul. "The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself." ["The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered" (NASB).]

By being generous a person prospers and will be benefitted (v.17). A generous man is literally a soul of blessing (Prov 3:9, 10; 2 Cor 9:6, 7). ["Rich" literally means "fat" or one who was thought prosperous and healthy (13:4; 15:30).] Such a state comes as the result of blessing others by sharing blessing with them. The resultant prosperity describes an artesian well, pumping water into the gardens of others while continually having more than enough for its own. Jesus gives us a spiritual application of this in His sermon at Tabernacles in John 7:37–39. The picture of water in more than abundant supply is especially striking when we remember that water was Palestine's most valued agricultural commodity.

This is the same idea Jesus had in mind when He said, "Give and it will be given to you" (Lk. 6:38). This is certainly true when giving to the Lord and His work. It doesn't make complete sense, except for the fact that God supernaturally blesses generosity.

How are we enriched or blessed? Not by hoarding, but by giving; not by keeping but by sharing.

Proverb 11:26 denounces hoarding to drive up the market price. "The people will curse him who withholds grain, But blessing will be on the head of him who sells it." ["He who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it" (NASB).]

Grain in a farming society was a major medium of exchange. Some held it till its price was at its highest point, then they sold it. Mass hoarding could drastically drive up prices. Here, the Lord says if you do this, people will resent you and curse you for it. But blessing will be upon you if you consider your neighbors, not just your own pocket. A person who sold his grain in the marketplace at fair value instead of hoarding it was a blessing to others.

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