Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
Lady Wisdom speaks here, and she commends her instruction and knowledge as better than silver and gold. Great efforts are made to acquire money during a lifetime, but men make very little effort in comparison to obtain wisdom and understanding. Are the priorities in your life geared toward instruction and knowledge, or toward income?
This comparison is made often in Proverbs. Solomon saw that most men were anxious and diligent in the pursuit of money, and he more than any man realized that wisdom is greater than any financial asset or accomplishment (Pr 4:7; Eccl 12:13-14). Both he and his father David exalted wisdom above riches (Pr 3:13-14; 8:11,19; 16:16; Ps 119:72,127).
America is a carnal and materialistic society. The rich are viewed as successful - the higher the income, the better the man, most believe. They spend years preparing for a particular profession, and they work many more hours than necessary to seek riches and success. But they neglect wisdom, which could save their lives from pain and trouble.
Money is a good thing to have, as it can eliminate many of life's small irritations. Solomon wrote, "Money answereth all things" (Eccl 10:19). But it is far inferior to wisdom. For He also wrote, "For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it" (Eccl 7:12).
Instruction and knowledge are found in the Word of God. Do you value the Bible more than financial success? Does this show in your desire to read and study it? David said of the Scriptures, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Ps 19:10-11). Do you love Scripture like he did?
Men are happy to work overtime. Are you as happy when the pastor preaches overtime? Successful men go beyond expectations and competitors in performing their jobs. Do you read and study more than the bare minimum and what your peers are doing? Diligent men never miss a day of work. Are you as faithful in reading the Bible? Examine yourself.
There are 168 hours in a week. There are 1440 minutes in a day. You know how many of them are spent pursuing income. How many are spent pursuing wisdom? You cannot study the Bible even close to the hours you must work, unless you are in the ministry. But how many minutes or hours in a week do you give the fear of the Lord and the pursuit of wisdom? Finding wisdom takes the diligence of hunting for hid treasure (Pr 2:1-5).
Wisdom loves those who love her (Pr 8:17). Can she tell that you love her? Or do you appear to be in love with mammon - the world's god of money and success? You cannot love both (Matt 6:24; I Tim 6:6-10; Jas 4:4). Set your heart on wisdom and God's Scriptures as your heritage and joy instead of the things of this life (Ps 119:111).
"Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding," Solomon wrote (Pr 23:23). You buy these things by giving up other activities and pursuits of your life. You give up the carnal ambitions of the world to put more emphasis on wisdom. Jesus commended wise men, who sold all for His kingdom (Matt 13:44-46).
What if you gain the whole world, but lose your own soul (Matt 16:26)? Consider it well, for this is the equation! If your priorities are out of line, the consequences are costly!