“Solomon, you stated that wealth is a blessing from your God. Why then does your God choose one righteous man to become wealthy and another to be poor?”
This post is a continuation of what I surmised King Solomon, based on his proverbs, may have answered the Queen of Sheba’s questions in their biblical meeting. The novel is a contemporary application of a story form to promote understanding of proverbs and ancient wise sayings in relation to our modern times.
“Bilqis, we should first clarify the reason why there are rich and poor in our communities. In a perfect community, the only reasons for becoming poor and need help from their friends because of an uncontrollable misfortune. Then there may be a person that prefers not to choose to spend their time on earth in the pursuit of wealth. They may decide only to work to feed, cloth, and shelter themselves adequately as they pursue other interests. However, some are poor because they are either fools or lazy.”
“While both fools and the poor need help in a perfect community, wisdom teaches us not to become a burden or liability to our friends and benefactors. A true friend will help another friend in time of need. However, if the poor friend later will not work nor does nothing to help him or herself, a smoldering resentment will build up. Their relationship will turn from love to hate in time because the heavy liability demands will become burdens that will feel like a millstone tied around a neck of the helpful friend or community. A rich man has more friends than a poor man because the friendships make no demands, and both stand to gain from each other without any liability.” A poor man is hated even by his friend, but a rich man’s friends are numerous. (Proverb 14:20)
“Solomon, a perfect community you say? I saw beggars in your streets and your people dressed in fine clothing ignoring them as they walked passed them. I am beginning to wonder if you are some kind of dreamer that does not recognize the reality that surrounds you as you expound your wisdom.”
“Bilqis, I too have the same problems as you of the wealthy not willing to share. The course I have taken is to teach to promote wisdom to my people. Wisdom to understand that sharing wealth is pleasing to our God, for we all are creatures of his making. The rich need to lead and use their wealth with actions of kindness to benefit the poor. Those that act oppressively against the poor insult their maker. Anything you do to oppress your brother will insult rather than honor his maker.” He who oppressed a poor man insults his maker, but he who is kind to a poor man honors him. (Proverb 14:31)
“What we must also recognize is that God’s order made all creatures to live side by side. The wealthy must have compassion for the poor and the hungry. The poor must not envy the rich. The rich must not boast their wealth over the poor. If you look over the dwellings in Jerusalem, you will see many various differences in structures and size standing along side of one other. As long as righteousness prevails in the community, this arrangement is possible.”
“The problem to avoid between the rich and poor is when the rich believe that they are better than the poor, or the poor envy and steal from the rich. Then the rich will separate themselves from living among the poor. When wealth separates people, the community will divide and weaken in time. There may be a difference in wealth amongst people, but our God has created both rich and poor for a reason.” Rich and poor live side by side, Yahweh makes them all. (Proverb 22:2)
“Solomon, give me some examples of why your God created a rich man to lead and use his wealth to benefit the poor other than continually giving handouts to the poor.”
“Wisdom will lead a man to take risks to put his wealth to work rather than miserly hoard. The man who distributes wealth and goods to those in need becomes richer rather than poorer. He gives food to the needy. He freely loans to the poor to help them prosper. He understands that when the poor prosper, he too will prosper because wealth put to work earns more wealth.”
“If for example, the rich man sells goods, he will sell more goods to his neighbors that have gained wealth by working to make goods or services to sell. An antisocial miser that hoards his wealth could lead him to want when his wealth diminishes instead of grows.” There is a man who disburses his wealth freely and yet is always getting richer; there is another whose miserliness leads only to want. (Proverb 11:24)
“Then there is the man most hated in his community. That man produces grain and refuses to sell it in time of scarcity. He holds back his grain from market to take advantage of obtaining the highest price at the expense of his community without regard for the common good. His opposite sells immediately whatever grain he has. A person motivated by social responsibility instead of maximum gain wins regards and esteem from his community and blessings from his God.” A community curses one who withholds grain, but there is a blessing on the head of one who sells it. (Proverb 11:26)
“Solomon, is it possible for a person be both wealthy and a fool according to your wisdom? If so give me some examples.”
“A fool will easily be parted from his wealth is one example. Another is a fool that works himself to death. Many fools pursue wealth at the expense of their health and tranquility. They wear themselves out in an effort to get rich. They do not understand that wealth can be fickle and what may be here today may disappear tomorrow into a hopeless distance same as an eagle soars from sight. A discerning person knows when to turn his eye to end the pursuit of wealth.” Do not wear yourself out making wealth, be discerning enough to give it up. (Proverb 23:4)
Source: Chapter 12
As A Lily Among Thorns -A Story of King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba and the Goddess of Wisdom
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Additional Food for Thought:
Pope Francis on November 26, 2013 decried unequal wealth.
The papal statement, known formally as an apostolic exhortation, is the first to be written by Pope Francis. Using sharply worded phrases, Francis decried “an idolatry of money” and warned it would lead to “ a new tyranny.” And he invoked language with particular resonance in the United States attacking an economic theory most affiliate with conservatives that discourages taxation and regulation.
(Source Chicago Tribune November 27, 2013)