This scripture is so clear and simple that I can’t justify keeping you very long. But there might be a few nuances which perhaps you haven’t considered before. And every scripture is worth considering from time to time.
As you probably know I am not much of a poet. In school, one or two teachers tried to get me to write poetry, but they weren’t successful – or I wasn’t. I can enjoy some poetry, but usually it has to be of the simple variety. Despite my ignorance, once in a while I can still recognize or appreciate a good poem. And I have been taught a little bit about Hebrew poetry. Parts of the Old Testament are filled with poetry. We might expect to find it in the Psalms, but it’s also in the prophets and here in Proverbs. Many, if not most of the Proverbs are repetitive couplets as I hope you will come to see. But keep in mind that poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme, and it doesn’t have to have obvious rhythm.
My Bible denotes verses 5 to 10 as a paragraph, but it might be considered a three-part poem as well. Part one – Trust, lean and acknowledge, and the Lord shall direct thy paths. Part two – Cast down your pride, fear the Lord and depart from evil, and you will be a healthy soul. Then here in verses 9 and 10 – Honour the Lord with your substance and first fruits, and you will be blessed. Each section gives us a godly recommendation followed by a blessed result.
Why is it that people generally love the first division – “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart.” But their love for the second is somewhat less – “Be not wise in thine own eyes, fear the Lord and depart from evil.” And then when they come to last section of the same poem, they almost discard it. Isn’t it because each division gets just a little more personal and pointed?
“Honour the Lord with thy substance.”
This is just another way of declaring Malachi 3:10. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” “Preacher, you don’t need to tell me about tithing, because I know what the Bible says. And for the most part I am obedient to this command and Biblical principle.” Okay, I won’t preach it – but permit me to point to a couple of suggestive points.
Take the word “honour” for example. Does the average church member – the one who faithfully tithes – think of his offering as “honoring the Lord?” Does he give in order to glorify the Lord – because that is one way the Hebrew word is translated – “Glorify the Lord with your substance.” But the word has another translation as well. See if you can discern it in I Samuel 5:6 – “But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them…” Don’t see it? How about Psalm 38:4 – “Mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” The word translated “heavy” is found in Psalm 50:15 – “And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” Solomon is asking us to “burden” the Lord with glory and honor. In addition to “casting all your care upon him,” Solomon is exhorting us to lay upon our God more and more of our praise, honor and the tokens of our physical blessings. Burden Him. “Honour the Lord with thy SUBSTANCE.” This word, in English, might suggest property, but in Hebrew it speaks specifically of riches and wealth. What are the blessings which the Lord has sprinkled, showered or rained upon you? He has honored you with these things, and you are expected to honor Him with tokens of the same.
“Honour the Lord… with the first-fruits of ALL thine increase.” There was a variety of Levitical sacrifice called “the first-fruits” offering. Deuteronomy 18:4 – “The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.” Exodus 22:29 – “Thou shalt not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits… the first born of thy sons shalt thou give unto me.” “Thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfruits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end.” There was a required Levitical firstfruits offering, but this verse doesn’t seem to me to speak of that. Doesn’t this seem to refer to a simple, voluntary giving to God – apart from priests and rules? This doesn’t speak of counting pennies or dollars, grains of salt or stalks of wheat. Isn’t this simply the gathering up of a goodly portion of God’s blessing and in some fashion returning it? Why should we be consistent in this? Obviously, it’s because we are truly thankful. But with consistency in honoring the Lord and with proper thanksgiving come additional blessings.
“So shall thy barns be filled with plenty.”
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
I was talking to Brother Martinson a couple of weeks ago. I was sitting at my desk with the computer in front of me, so I Googled his farm. I was able to pinpoint, not only where he lives, but I got a satellite photograph of his property. There was his house and a number of outbuildings, including what I assume was a barn and several silos. What is the difference between a silos and a barn? I am no expert but I have an opinion. Brother Chris, told me that there was still grain from a previous harvest which had not been sold. So in one or more silos there was potential income, while in another there might have been seed for planting next year. The word translated “barn” in Proverbs 3 is elsewhere translated “storehouse.” “So shall thy (storehouses – thy silos) be filled with plenty.”
But don’t God’s blessings extend beyond income and the necessities of day-to-day life? And aren’t some of those blessings intended for next week and next year? Can’t we interpret those blessings in other ways – as in good health and a long life? Isn’t it great to awaken in the morning feeling refreshed and re-energized, ready to spend another day in honoring the Lord?
“So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” “New wine” is simply a reference to the new grape harvest – it does not directly refer to fermented wine. Isaiah 65:8 speaks of new wine as found still in the cluster. The wine press was the machine by which the juice was extracted from the grape.
The principle taught by God’s wise man in these verses does not require a graduate student. This is pretty simple. “Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”