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Debt Stinks

  • The best way of saving money is to forget who you borrowed it from.
  • Fred: Thank you so much for lending me that money. I shall be everlastingly in your debt.  Harry: That’s what I m afraid of!
  • Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor. ~ Benjamin Franklin
  • This is all the inheritance I give to my dear family. The religion of Christ will give them one which will make them rich indeed. ~ Patrick Henry

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.

Arguments abound as to how much wealth King Solomon actually had.  Some place him in lists compiling the richest men in history.  Some say that he was just a ‘good’ king in a small, rural village government that did well while he was in power.  Here’s what I know.  Since Jesus rose from the dead, I have reason to believe what the Bible says.  The Bible gives many accounts from the life of King Solomon concerning his wisdom and wealth.  I could list all the references here, but it would take most of a few pages to properly account for them all.  I’ll just simplify the list with the following short statements.  His yearly salary estimate was $280,000,000.  He ruled 40 years…do the math.  He had shields made with Gold.  He made alliances and peace treaties with rulers of that known world…and received gold and treasures in return for his political savvy.  He married 700 wives…many of them daughters of the powerful rulers of the known world of that time.  His kingdom may not have been the largest, but it was very influential in the region, and he was paid well for his leadership and help with hard diplomatic questions.  He was known for his wisdom as a leader and ruler.

Why do I start this article on Proverbs 22:7 like this?  This proverb about rich and poor was written by this wealthy king.  The books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs, books of wisdom, were written by Solomon.  Most suggest that they were written in his later years as he looked back at his life.  From the king’s throne he witnessed a lot.  Having the wisdom of God, he was able to make powerful business and kingdom decisions.  However, two things he lacked were obedience to his God and common sense.  He came around to those two things later in life as both of these books show.

Solomon writes about being rich and being poor in many ways in the books of Ecclesiastes and Proverbs.  Sometimes he lifts up the rich other times he writes of their greed.  Sometimes he writes about the good nature of the poor, and sometimes he calls them out for being lazy.  When you lay all the verses he writes about the rich and the poor side by side, a bigger picture is seen.  He is getting to the heart of the matter, which really has nothing to do with money.

He was one who had position to rule over the poor.  For the most part, evidence from Scripture show that he wasn’t an evil ruler…but being rich afforded him the luxury of ruling.  As king, he ruled over others who were rich, some who ruled with an iron fist over the poor.  Solomon, as the king, was the final judge in many “court cases.”  He no doubt ruled sometimes in favor of the rich…sometimes in favor of the poor.  The wisdom he writes of simply comes from his observations.

The focus for the week, however, is the position of those who are in debt.  From all of the verses that Solomon wrote about, concerning wealth or poverty, he writes about it being a character issue.  Being rich or being poor is simply about position.  There isn’t anything evil about being wealthy, unless the wealthy disobey God.  There isn’t anything evil about a person who’s poor, unless poor disobey God.  Money is just money.  John Maxwell says this about money, “Money does two things.  It provides options and it provides something to share with others.  That’s it.”

This verse points to two things…rich rulers and poor who are in debt slavery.  From his throne, he saw the rich ruling over the poor and the poor who were in slavery to the rich because of their debt to them.  Did he make any judgment?  No.  It was simply a statement about what happens when people go in debt.  Is there a moral to the story?  I believe so.  Solomon, in all his vast wealth found out that it didn’t satisfy all his needs.  Only God can supply a “full life” (John 10:10).  I believe that in his wisdom statement there is a warning.  Don’t pursue the things of “wealth” as the world sees…only to go into debt and be a slave to the lender.  Becoming a slave to a lender has its consequences.  Even though you think have more stuff, you have less options in life because of payments and you have less to share with others (remember John Maxwell’s quote above).

Next, I’m going to put some verses back to back to back from Solomon’s hand to give you a snapshot of what he finally figured out through his life experience.

Ecclesiastes 1:8,10,11  I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces… I denied myself nothing my eyes desired… Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;  nothing was gained under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:26  To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep.

Ecclesiastes 8:15 So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

Proverbs 28:6 Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse.

Proverbs 22:2 Rich and poor have this in common: The lord is the Maker of them all.

What I come away with from these verses and others like them is this…what one has doesn’t define them.  Their actions with what they have or with what they lack, their character, builds their reputation.  Some try to build their reputation by buying things they cannot afford.  I’ve been in that boat and am paying interest because of it…slave to the lender.  It’s not a fun place to be.  I’d feel a lot freer if I had less but didn’t owe anyone anything.  Solomon saw this.  He saw how the ‘love of money’ and the love of stuff strapped people down…and how others ruled over them.  In the book of Ecclesiastes, he literally called it meaningless…a chasing after vapors in the wind.

Solomon’s big conclusion to all of his gained wisdom and knowledge came down to this.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Summary:  Be content and don’t chase after things that God hasn’t brought your way.  Forced blessings usually put you in a debt situation.  Debt is bad.  We could argue what kind of debt is bad or what kind isn’t…but we’re talking simply about the principle of wanting things not within our reach and thus making decisions that will hinder our ministry to our family and others around us.  Love God.  Love people.  Those are our charges.  Making poor decisions with our finances keeps us from fully serving our Creator.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,



Questions for Growth:

  • Do you have debt?  (y/n)  Was that debt necessary? (y/n)  Do you feel weighted down because of it? (y/n)
  • If you are in debt, do you have a plan to “master” your spending? (y/n)  Can you verbalize it to someone else? (y/n)  Try it now with someone near you.
  • What things are necessary for you to live a full life as described by Jesus in John 10:10?
  • How does our American culture see “stuff”?…Accumulation of stuff?…
  • Does stuff define us? (y/n…yes it is a trick question)  Stuff can define us…if we purchase stuff on loan so we have what others have, then we will be defined as a debtor by some bank.  Is this how you want your life defined?
  • Ouch…are you feeling the “pinch” of this verse like I am?  😦
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