Do you have one person that you trust more than others? It is a luxury that few actually have on this planet. We look our parents for trust. We look to our friends as well. We never trust politicians or one who sells cars or insurance because they constantly lie to us. However, most will say that they trust in God. Yet I venture to say that there is one thing most trust in more than God. One of the statements on our currency is the phrase, “In God we trust.” Unfortunately, more seem to be trusting in currency than in God. Solomon wrote, “He that trusts in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch (Prov. 11:28). This proverb contrasts the one trusting in riches and the righteous (the one trusting in God) with reference to the eventual outcome of their lives.
The One Trusting in Riches
We have seen how riches are sometimes used to protect men from the consequences of their sinful action. A billionaire con artist can hire the best attorneys to buy “reasonable doubt.” Hush money can keep witnesses from testifying in political scandals or from prosecutors ever bringing them to justice.
Others trust in money by making it the supreme purpose for their lives. Their chief aim in life is the accumulation of wealth. They don’t care who they step on or hurt in order to attain their wealth, for they believe that wealth can provide them everything in life worth having.
The wise man said that such men will fall. Many who trust in riches experience temporal judgments that destroy them. “As the partridge sits on eggs, and hatches them not; so he that gets riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool” (Jer 17:11). Others who trust in riches live out their lives without experiencing a “fall.” However, in the day of death and judgment, these souls will meet the same sad eternal fate as the rich man in Luke 16:19-31. That man went to torment because his love of riches kept him from helping poor Lazarus. His trust in his riches led him to the worst fall of all. Nevertheless, whether your sins are discovered or not, God will eventually bring them to light. “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid” (1 Tim 5:24,25).
They that trust in riches shall fall like the flower of the grass, or like the leaves of a tree. Their riches shall leave them; or if they should die in the midst of their wealth, they can carry nothing of their glory along with them. Their wealth cannot keep them from falling into hell, or mitigate the horrors of the infernal lake; but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
Paul warned the rich not to trust in their uncertain riches (1 Tim. 6:17). One should not hope in riches because, in contrast to God, they are uncertain.
The Righteous Shall Flourish
The righteous are the opposite of those who trust in riches; hence, it must be those who trust in God and obey his will. The righteous man is the one who does what God commands, even when his outward senses tell him that his earthly life will be better if he disobeys God. A man like Daniel could have reasoned that his life would be more pleasant if he would eat the king’s dainties (Dan. 1). Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego could have reasoned that life would be better if they would bow down to the king’s image. However, they concluded that their fate was better off to die in obedience to the Lord than to live in disobedience to him. They told Nebuchadnezzar, “0 Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, 0 king. But if not, be it known unto thee, 0 king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:16-18). Men of such faith and trust in God are intended by the word “righteous.”
Such men shall “flourish as a branch.” The figure of the branch flourishing may include the concept that the righteous may experiences afflictions, like the loss of foliage a branch has in the fall. However, when the spring comes, the branches bud out again and issue its foliage. A branch may during winter appear withered, but it drops not from the stock, and in the spring it revives and grows. So the righteous man, though he meets seasons of affliction, shall revive and flourish. He is in grafted into the true Vine, and partaking of his vital influence, shall abound in the fruits of comfort and righteousness.
Sometimes when one is going through the afflictions and distresses of life, he is tempted to think that serving the Lord will not profit or benefit him. One must hold on to the promises of God to sustain him through such times. God has promised that serving him will pay more than any other course of life. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matt 6:24).
One who believes God who cannot lie (Tit. 1:2 f; Heb 6:18) will have faith to sustain him through the hard times, knowing that those who are righteous truly shall prosper. “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19).