Summary: These proverbs give us helpful instruction for traveling the road of life which we must all travel along.
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
“That sounds like a bit of old Bilbo’s rhyming,” said Pippin. “Or is it one of your imitations? It does not sound altogether encouraging.”
“I don’t know,” said Frodo. “It came to me then, as if I was making it up; but I may have heard it long ago. Certainly it reminds me very much of Bilbo in the last years, before he went away. He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary. ‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door,’ he used to say. ‘You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.’”
Our proverbs this morning give us helpful instruction for traveling the road of life which we must all travel along.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
Have you ever dreamed of winning the lottery or receiving an unexpected large inheritance? I have. I’ve dreamed of becoming wealthy and what I would do with the money. I, of course, would use it for good! I would use it to erase debts that were burdening good people that I learned about. I have a school that I would like to endow so that it would no longer have to struggle to meet its bills. If I could just get money, I could do so much good.
There are the “lesser-minded” folks who want wealth for themselves. They want enough money so they can be comfortable – live in comfortable house, not have to worry about meeting monthly bills, do whatever they like within reason, and not have to worry about retirement. Then there are the “worldly” folks who dream of owning big homes, fancy cars, and expensive toys. If only they could get enough money, life would be good. To be rich – whether to be benevolent or to be comfortable or to live at in luxury – that would be a great blessing indeed.
Your response may be that money is not the source, nor the guarantee to happiness, and so on. That’s all true, but we’ve all had our struggles paying the bills, digging out of debt, or wanting to be in position to significantly help others. So much good could be done if we had the money. At least a measure of peace about our security could be achieved with money at hand.
The point of the proverb is not that gold and silver are bad, but that wisdom and understanding are better. As great as the blessing wealth can bring, wisdom brings greater blessing. It does not tell us why wisdom is better, though other proverbs do. Indeed, the premise of the book of Proverbs is that wisdom and understanding are of supreme value, that to be without them is to be very poor indeed.
People tend to think that wealth itself provides security and happiness. If only I had enough money, I could meet all my bills. As anyone who has earned wealth will say, getting more money does not equate with having enough money. It is the ability to control how one spends money that achieves security. And it takes wisdom to exercise proper control. People think that wealth enables them to buy what they need to make them happy. But again, those who are wealthy will attest that buying and having does not equate with happiness and peace. That is because living a fulfilling life is more closely connected with the happy, contented life than the entertained life. Entertainment and recreation have their place, but they must stay in their place. It takes wisdom to know how to live a fulfilling life. And then, people think wealth is valuable in being able to help others. Wealth certainly is valuable that way, and truly it is a blessing to be able to give a lot of money for good causes. Even so, one never can give enough because the needs are always greater. Furthermore, one can give money to others who do not use the money wisely. Then the money becomes only a source of frustration. Better than giving lots of money is giving what one has wisely and getting involved personally in helping others.
Wisdom is better than gold and silver because wisdom does not need either to obtain peace and happiness, whereas the latter can cause great misery without wisdom. Wisdom is better because it can obtain gold and silver, while the latter cannot obtain wisdom, no matter how much is spent. Wisdom is better than gold and silver because it can be obtained by any who desire it, whereas gold and silver may elude the grasp of those who strive for it the most.