Proverbs 1:13 "We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil:"
Solomon wrote his proverbs to help people, especially his young son. In order for his readers to benefit from the book, Solomon knew he needed to capture and keep their attention. There is probably no greater threat to the teacher’s effort to get and keep the attention of the student than the distraction of mischief-makers. In the classroom, one influential trouble-maker can derail the entire lesson. In the classroom, a pair of problem students can render the teacher’s efforts useless by recruiting others to join them in their mischief. Solomon understood that sinners could easily derail his efforts to help his son and others become morally successful in life. It was for this reason that he chose to inform his readers early on to beware of the enticement and distraction of mischief-makers.
In verse 11, Solomon exposed their heartless intentions to harm the innocent. In verse 12, he exposed their merciless intentions to swallow the innocent whole. In verse 13, he exposed their careless intentions to become wealthy by robbery. This wise author was exposing the danger behind the slick sales pitch of the sinner. In these early verses of chapter one, Solomon is unwrapping the appealing packaging of the sinner’s sales pitch and showing the ticking time bomb inside. From cover to cover, the Book of Proverbs is intended to get the reader thinking. These descriptive verses are no different. By exposing the intentions of evildoers, Solomon wanted his readers to think before making a fatal mistake to join the evildoers.
He wanted them to ponder and reason among themselves the following thoughts:
“If they’re inviting me to harm innocent people for no reason, will they decide to harm me at some point for no reason? If they’re willing to hurt people without cause, is there any reason they wouldn’t turn on me at some point in the future?”
“If they’re inviting me to swallow innocent people whole without any thought of mercy, will they do the same to me at some point? Will a merciless crowd show any mercy to me in the event I seek it or need it?”
“If they’re willing to get rich by stealing from others, will they decide to get richer by stealing from me? If they’re willing to increase their wealth by heartless and merciless theft, why wouldn’t they be willing to steal from me?”
The careful reader of verse 13 will see that Solomon is exposing the Carelessness of the Covetous. The sinners’ carelessness is being exposed by pointing out how confident they are that they will find precious substance and that they will then fill their houses with that precious substance. They say with great confidence, “we SHALL find all precious substance” and “we SHALL fill our houses with spoil.” They weren’t honest with the odds. They weren’t truthful with the risk. Like most criminals, they assumed too much and thought too little. Their covetousness led to their carelessness.
Covetousness always leads to carelessness. Covetousness ignores the obvious; it ignores the statistics; it ignores the risks associated with an obsession with stuff. Perhaps there is no greater example of this truth than the sorrow of gambling. Gamblers gamble because they want to get rich and they want to get rich quick. For that reason, gambling is an activity driven by covetousness. Proverbs 28:22 “He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.” Gamblers go to the casinos with nothing but optimism. Gamblers approach tables, cards, dice, chips and machines with confidence – in their minds, they say “we SHALL find all precious substance, we SHALL fill our houses with spoil.” By focusing on the precious substance they want so desperately, most gamblers fail to acknowledge the risk and reality of losing the substance they have.
Covetousness leads to Carelessness. A recent study of gamblers from the Wall Street Journal concluded that only 11% of internet casino players ended profitably. Those who ended profitably had a net win of less than $150. Only 5% of heavy gamblers walked away a winner. 10.7% of gamblers made up 80% of the casinos’ revenue. Of the 4,222 gamblers who were in the study, only 7 won more than $5000.
Covetousness leads to Carelessness. Thieves recruit with confidence but fail to consider the risks of being caught or killed in the process. Thieves overestimate the prize but underestimate the police. Covetousness blinds thieves to the high probability of being caught and going to prison. Covetousness blinds thieves to the statistical realities that theft rarely pays off. While some may elude police, no one eludes God. Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Solomon wants his readers to hear what these sinners are really saying and what their words are really revealing. They’re driven by heartlessness, mercilessness and carelessness. Their covetousness will eventually lead to guilt and regret. Hence, the counsel of verse 10, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.”
Instead of following a Covetous Campaign of the Sinner (“Find and Fill”), let us follow a Compassionate Campaign of the Savior – “Seek and Save.” The sinner looks to Find Substance and Fill his house with Spoil. The Savior looks to Seek the Sinner and Save his Soul. There is sorrow and poverty at the end of the sinner’s campaign. There is joy and eternal wealth at the end of the Savior’s campaign.
Christian, listen to the voice of your Heavenly Father, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Instead, He says, “come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:21).