“Better a little with the fear of the Lord
than great wealth with turmoil.”
Proverbs 15:16 (NIV)
In the early 1960’s I was in attendance at Seminary training to be a minister of the Gospel. I was engaged to be married and wanted my fiancé to come to the open house of my school to witness the classes and have a meal in our cafeteria. Because I was determined to graduate without debt my budget was very strict. In fact, if I bought my fiancé a meal that day, I would not have the funds to buy one for myself.
I got around my financial dilemma by making up some excuse about not being hungry at that meal time. So I got the one meal and sat and chatted with my guest while she ate her food. I was blissfully happy in spite of my economic poverty because I was with the one I loved. As long as she was present it mattered little whether I ate or not.
Many mature people I speak to, who have been very financially successful in life, will sorrowfully comment that their happiest days were when they were poor and struggling as a young married couple. The accumulation of wealth did not bring them the happiness they dreamed of. Instead of wealth giving the contentment eagerly sought after there came with financial prosperity a sense of longing for the “good old days”, days of poverty.
This is the spirit of the verse today. The writer is indicating by his comment that poverty was not a matter of great concern if he had the “fear of the Lord”. Poverty is to be preferred to wealth if the person has the Lord as their travelling companion.
This biblical expression “fear of the Lord” needs some definition if we are to really get the point of what is said here. The expression is used in Hebrews 5:7 where it has a reference to Jesus praying in Gethsemane just before the betrayal.
It says there that Jesus had strong crying and tears as He wrestled with the Father over the horrors that were soon to descend upon Him. The verse says that Jesus was heard, that His request was answered. The reason for God giving Jesus what He asked for was because of Jesus’ “godly fear”.
What did Jesus seek so emotionally in Gethsemane? He sought above all that the will of the Father might be done. The writer there equates the submission of Jesus to the Father’s will with “godly fear”. The thing to which Jesus submitted was the humiliation, torment, and finally His death on the cross the next day.
Jesus lost everything as He went to the cross, He lost the comfort of friends, He lost His spotless reputation as lies were spoken against Him, He lost His well being as His body was brutalized, everything was gone except His awareness that the Father’s will was being accomplished. He also knew of the eternal benefit to His people for whom He was dying.
Can you look at the little you have today as enough if the will of your heavenly Father is accomplished in your life? Are you prepared to “fear the Lord” today by submitting to the hardships of this life for the glories that shall be yours in that great day? May you have grace to believe and accept the verse for today as your life motto.