The full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.
Solomon was the wealthiest man of his day, so he knew firsthand the limitations of money. In Ecclesiastes 5, he pointed out that first, no one ever has enough money, and second, money attracts parasites. As your income increases, so do those who want to take a bite out of it.
Third, money produces anxiety. Look at verse 12: “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.” Solomon was not talking about digestive disorders; he was saying a working person punches out at five o’clock and does not think about his job until the next morning. But not so for the wealthy person. He is worrying about his money all the time. His wealth permits him no sleep.
Several years ago, Boston College conducted a study entitled “The Joys and Dilemmas of Wealth.” Researchers surveyed millionaires and billionaires about how money has affected their lives. And it turns out these people were full of anxiety. In an interview with the “Atlantic,” one of the architects of the study said, “Sometimes I think that the only people in this country who worry more about money than the poor are the very wealthy. They worry about losing it, they worry about how it’s invested, they worry about the effect it’s going to have. And as the zeroes increase, the dilemmas get bigger.” Money produces anxiety.
Fourth, money can be harmful. Solomon said in verse 13, “There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.” Earlier in his life, Solomon talked about the importance of saving money. He said in Proverbs 6 to look at the ant–she takes her food in the summer and sets aside a portion of it for the winter. In the same way, we ought to set aside money for our future needs. But there is a great difference between saving money and hoarding money. A person who hoards money is piling it up to try to protect himself from every contingency in life. And the Bible says hoarding money is harmful.
How does hoarding money hurt us? It robs us of present joy. Do you know people who are always saving for a rainy day and never able to enjoy the sunshine of today? In Thornton Wilder’s play “The Matchmaker,” one of the characters says, “Money is like manure; it’s not worth a thing unless it’s spread around.” That is what Solomon was talking about: pile up your money in one place, and it begins to stink. Hoarded money robs us of present joy in life.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Money Madness” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Graeme Wood, “Secret Fears of the Super-Rich,” Atlantic, April 2011, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/secret-fears-of-the-super-rich/308419/; Thornton Wilder, “The Matchmaker” (New York: Samuel French, 2010), 110.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.