4 Do not wear yourself out to get rich;
do not trust your own cleverness.
5 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.
It always made me smile to see kids at the beach when they first see a flock of gulls. Toddlers generally think that these are really nice birds and they want to get closer to them - maybe even pet them. After all, Fido is a nice dog, and he likes it when we pet him, right? The birds must be aching to be patted.
So they scamper up to the flock, only to see them rise and fly a few feet, then settle down again, further away. Toddler pauses, surveys the situation, and takes off again. Over and over the scenario is repeated, and the only thing that is really happening is that the child is getting tired - wearing himself or herself out.
Solomon is cautioning his son about riches -- or rather, about the pursuit of them. He's saying that you'll wear yourself out working to get rich . . . and the more you have, the more you will want. It will be as if the riches were birds, and they flew away, leaving you wanting more.
He's also saying that riches are temporary. In these days of unsettling economic news, you can be rich one moment, and lose it in the next moment. Just like those seagulls, your wealth can be a fleeting thing.
Is Solomon saying that we should not be wealthy? No. Is he saying that we should avoid making the getting of wealth our primary focus, and avoid wearing ourselves out striving for more? Yes!
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:33)
Have a blessed weekend, everyone!