By Mike Willis
One of the statements on our currency is the phrase, “In God do we trust.” Unfortunately, more seem to be trusting in currency than in God. Solomon wrote,
He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch (Prov. 11:28).
This proverb contrasts the one trusting in riches and the righteous (the one trusting in God) with reference to the eventual outcome of their lives.
The One Trusting in Riches
The word trust is translated from Mn; (batach), which is accurately represented by the English word “trust.” Riches is translated from 1 P (`osher). The one who trusts in riches is one who thinks that his riches can preserve him from the consequences of his sin.
We have seen how riches are sometimes used to protect men from the consequences of their sinful action. A rich drug dealer can hire the best attorneys to buy “reasonable doubt.” Hush money can keep witnesses from testifying in political scandals. Corporations can buy legislation with the right contributions to the party in power.
Others trust in money by making it the supreme purpose for their lives. Their chief aim in life is the accumulation of wealth. They don’t care who they step on or hurt in order to attain their wealth, for they believe that wealth can provide them everything in life worth having.
The wise man said that such men will fall. Fall is translated from In; (napal). The word literally means “fall” but is used figuratively to mean “go to ruin, perish” (BDB 657). Many who trust in riches experience temporal judgments that destroy them. Others who trust in riches live out their lives without experiencing a “fall.” However, in the day of death and judgment, these souls will meet the same sad eternal fate as the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. That man went to torment because his love of riches kept him from helping poor Lazarus. His trust in his riches led him to the worst fall of all.
George Lawson wrote, “They that trust in riches shall fall like the flower of the grass, or like the leaves of a tree. Their riches shall leave them; or if they should die in the midst of their wealth, they can carry nothing of their glory along with them. Their wealth cannot keep them from falling into hell, or mitigate the horrors of the infernal lake; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” (The Book of Proverbs 219).
Paul warned the rich not to trust (eATr’Io , “to hope.. . to build hope on one, as on a foundation,” Thayer 205) in their uncertain riches (1 Tim. 6:17). One should not hope in riches because, in contrast to God, they are uncertain.
The Righteous Shall Flourish
The righteous (from ^’7′., “just, righteous,” BDB 843) are the opposite of those who trust in riches; hence, it must be those who trust in God and obey his will. The righteous man is the one who does what God commands, even when his outward senses tell him that his earthly life will be better if he disobeys God. A man like Daniel could have reasoned that his life would be more pleasant if he would eat the king’s dainties (Dan. 1). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have reasoned that life would be better if they would bow down to the king’s image. However, they concluded that their fate was better off to die in obedience to the Lord than to live in disobedience to him. They told Nebuchadnezzar, “0 Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, 0 king. But if not, be it known unto thee, 0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:16-18). Men of such faith and trust in God are intended by the word “righteous.”
Such men shall “flourish as a branch.” The word flourish is from fl , “bud, sprout, shoot” (BDB 827). The word branch is translated from i 1 l%y, “leaf, leafage” (BDB 750).
The figure of the branch flourishing may include the concept that the righteous may experiences afflictions, like the loss of foliage a branch has in the fall. However, when the spring comes, the branches bud out again and issue its foliage. “A branch may during winter appear withered, but it drops not from the stock, and in the spring it revives and grows. So the righteous man, though he meets seasons of affliction, shall revive and flourish. He is in grafted into the true Vine, and partaking of his vital influence, shall abound in the fruits of comfort and righteousness” (Lawson 219).
Sometimes when one is going through the afflictions and distresses of life, he is tempted to think that serving the Lord will not profit and benefit him. One must hold on to the promises of God to sustain him through such times. God has promised that serving him will pay more than any other course of life.
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;
To show that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him (Ps. 92:12-15).
One who believes God who cannot lie (Tit. 1:2) will have faith to sustain him through the hard times, knowing that those who are righteous truly shall prosper.
Guardian of Truth XLI: 11 p. 2
June 5, 1997