The mischievous artist Banksy pulled off another practical joke. His painting Girl with Balloon sold for one million pounds at Sotheby’s auction house in London. Moments after the auctioneer yelled “Sold,” an alarm sounded and the painting slipped halfway through a shredder mounted inside the bottom of the frame. Banksy tweeted a picture of bidders gasping at his ruined masterpiece, with the caption, “Going, going, gone.”
Banksy relished pulling one over on the wealthy, but he need not have bothered. Wealth itself has plenty of pranks up its sleeve. God says, “Do not wear yourself out to get rich . . . . Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle” (Proverbs 23:4–5).
Few things are less secure than money. We work hard to earn it, yet there are many ways to lose it. Investments go sour, inflation erodes, bills come, thieves steal, and fire and flood destroy. Even if we manage to keep our money, the time we have to spend it continually flies. Blink, and your life is going, going, gone.
What to do? God tells us a few verses later: “always be zealous for the fear of the
Proverbs 22:17–24:22 is marked out as a separate section with the prologue, “Thirty Sayings of the Wise.” Some scholars have argued that Solomon “borrowed” some of these proverbs from an ancient Egyptian wisdom work “The Instruction of Amenemope,” which has thirty chapters. Regardless of its source, we believe that these “Thirty Sayings” are “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).
The seventh saying (Proverbs 23:1–3) paints the picture of being invited to dinner by a powerful host, and warns of being enamored by the appearance of social prestige. Instead, we’re to be vigilant and restrained at a time when it’s easy to indulge. The eighth saying (vv. 4–5) warns of the danger of greed, of being consumed by money and materialism, of trusting in riches. Since wealth is fleeting (27:24), it’s foolish to trust in it (Ecclesiastes 5:13–15; Matthew 6:19; 1 Timothy 6:6–10; James 5:1–6).