Proverbs 21:6

Dishonest Treasures

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue

A. The Getting of Treasures

1. Treasures:

a. The term is used in two different ways:
• A treasure-house, treasury, storehouses, a place where valuables are stored.

1. Neh. 13:12, 13 – Here it refers to the storehouses where the treasures are kept.
• OR riches, wealth
» Solomon is speaking of the actual wealth itself—that which would be placed in a storehouse.
» He is speaking of treasures in general… wealth and valuables of every sort.

2. The Getting of Treasures

a. Getting: work; deed; doing; acquisition; accumulation; i.e., the obtaining of something, implying an effort.

b. Thus, Solomon is speaking about obtaining wealth… acquiring riches.

c. And he makes a moral judgment on the subject.

d. However, the proverb is not making a moral judgment with respect to obtaining or storing riches.

e. Rather, this proverb makes a moral judgment with respect to the MANNER in which they are obtained.

f. This proverb does not teach that obtaining treasures is a vanity tossed to and fro of them who seek death.

g. That would be out of harmony with the rest of Scripture on the subject.

h. Wealth is a morally neutral matter.
• It doesn’t make a bit of difference morally or spiritually whether a person is rich or poor.
• It doesn’t matter to God whether a person obtains treasures and wealth or not.
• Rich people and poor people can live for God and glorify Him. That has always been the case.

i. The “getting of treasures” was normally considered a “good thing” in Israel.
• Deut. 28:1-4 – For the Jew, wealth often indicated God’s blessing.
• As a nation, their blessings were earthly riches for obedience.
• Prov. 10:4 – The hand of the diligent maketh rich. The Jews were encouraged to be hard working, industrious, and diligent. They were taught that “riches” were a reward for that diligence.
• David and Solomon amassed HUGE treasures in the House of the Lord… and they did so for the glory of God.
• Thus, the getting of treasures in Israel was not normally to be understood in a negative light. Normally, it was a good thing.

B. By a Lying Tongue

1. The point Solomon seeks to make in this proverb is not about acquiring wealth, but is about the MEANS of acquiring wealth.

2. Obtaining wealth itself is not a moral issue… but obtaining it through a lying tongue is. It is sinful!

3. Lying = deception or falsehood.

4. It is possible to accumulate wealth by dishonest means… through deception or falsehood.

a. This is what Solomon exposes in this proverb.

b. Men routinely LIE in order to deceive others for their own personal profit.

5. There are many examples of men in the Bible who obtained wealth through lying and deception.

a. II Kings 5:20 – Gehazi
• Elisha’s servant was upset that his master healed Naaman the Syrian and did not take any payment for it.
• Gehazi went back to Naaman and lied, saying that Elisha sent him to receive the gifts.
• The servant DID receive the treasures by wickedness.
• Ultimately, they did not profit him, for he was smitten with leprosy! (v.27)

b. I Kings 21:4 – Ahab & Jezebel – obtained wealth through lying.
• Through murder and robbery, he stole the vineyard of Naboth.
• His wife Jezebel wrote a letter and sent it to the elders of the city. They were instructed to lie about Naboth, and falsely charge him with blasphemy, and stone him… which they did.
• Ahab then obtained the vineyard he desired.
• But along with the vineyard came a message from God: (v.17-19)
• I Kings 22:28-29 – Ahab did a lot of building of palaces and accumulating of wealth through wickedness… but with no profit.

6. Getting treasures through lying is practiced in the modern world… and brought to new levels.

a. Imagine how many lies will be told… how much the truth will be stretched for men to obtain a piece of the bailout pie?

b. People LIE on their taxes in order to wrongfully obtain money that belongs to the government.

c. People LIE about their products they sell. Have you ever bought a product that did not do what they claimed it would do?

d. People LIE on their resumes in order to obtain a high paying job.

e. Even politicians LIE (stretch the truth) in order to bring home the pork.

f. You can often make a lot of money by lying and deceiving others.

g. This is an ancient art.

Is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death.

1. Vanity defined:

a. Strong’s: Vapor; breath; vanity.

b. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Meaninglessness emptiness; futility; uselessness.

c. Futile; lacking in content; empty.

d. Used 5 times in Ecc. 1:2 – “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

2. Tossed to and fro:

a. Strong’s: “Driven to and fro” once, and “tossed to and fro.”

b. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: Blow away; scatter; i.e., an action of the wind, with a focus on the fleetingness of the action. (used of wind blowing away the chaff)

3. Vanity tossed to and fro can be interpreted in two different ways.

a. If the word “vanity” is understood as breath or wind, then Solomon is saying that obtaining wealth is as fleeting as a passing wind… or a breath… a puff of air. Now you see it, now you don’t.
• The emphasis is on how short-lived it is.
• The earthly treasures obtained through deceit might appear to be heavy, valuable, and weighty, but in reality, they are but a puff of air… short lived… not very lasting.
• Prov. 10:2 – “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing.”
• Prov. 13:11 – “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished.”

b. If the word “vanity” is understood as emptiness or futility, then Solomon’s point is that seeking to obtain wealth through deception is an empty pursuit that has been kicked around for ages.
• Prov. 20:17 – Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel.
• It is not ultimately satisfying.
• There IS something satisfying in hard work… diligent labor… and the enjoying the FRUIT of one’s labors.
• But when bread is obtained deceitfully, there is no satisfaction. It tastes sweet initially, but eventually is like a mouth full of gravel.

4. “Them that seek death.”

a. Seeking to obtain riches through dishonesty or deception is equal to seeking death.
• Those who seek to obtain wealth dishonestly (bank robbers) often end up dead.
• This expression is something akin to saying that drug addicts are really seeking death. It is a death wish.
• It is a pathway that ultimately leads to death… sometimes physical death… always spiritual death.
• Prov. 8:36 – “But he that sinneth against me (Lady Wisdom) wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.”
• This is destructive behavior.
• Jer. 22:13 – He may bring upon himself the wrath of God!
• It results in bringing upon their own heads the ill will of the men they deceive… and of the Lord Himself.

b. Prov. 9:17 – “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
• Compare verse 18 – Her guests are in the depths of hell!

c. Quick money and instant gratification isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
• That which initially seems so sweet often has various long lasting consequences: guilt, shame, a jail sentence, a mouth full of gravel, and emptiness… no satisfaction… nothing but remorse… and eventually death.

d. It is not a good course to pursue. Crime doesn’t pay.