Proverbs 3:14

For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
– Proverbs 3:14

Merchandise refers to trade and the profit from it. Here it is the profit from the trade of silver. Gain refers to income or even revenue. Fine gold is that which is mined. Both phrases are emphasizing the profit or gain from work expended. The real key in this verse is the word “better.” When we pair this verse with the verse before and those after, we find a most important distinction about wisdom. Wisdom is its own reward and, as a reward, is infinitely more valuable than anything upon this earth. Wisdom is far better than material gain and, therefore, getting wisdom is not about getting rich. Those who use the book of Proverbs to teach how to get rich or find prosperity prove they do not have wisdom themselves and are therefore unfit guides to the obtaining of wisdom.

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Proverbs 2:4

If thou sleekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
– Proverbs 2:4

Solomon likens the search for wisdom to a search for hidden treasures. If a man was convinced a valuable treasure was hidden on his property, he would wear himself out in searching for it. He would be consumed with the task. Our search for wisdom should be characterized by this sort of urgency and intensity, for wisdom is far more valuable than any hoard of gold.

Consideration of these verses in this context reveals that the search for wisdom has an objective end. Solomon is not calling us to mere speculation or some sort nebulous journey of self-realization. He does not promote a finding of one’s own truth. He is urging us to the “words” and “commandments” of wisdom.

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