Read all of Proberbs 27, focus on Proverbs 27:23-27
How are your flocks doing? You getting enough goat’s milk? Are your herds eating up all your front yard grass? Oh yeah, no goats and sheep at your house, so this passage doesn’t have meaning, right? This is an interesting passage addressing some of the financial sin we often make. The picture here is of a farmer who has considerable animals in his flocks, and they give him all they need – milk, meat, clothing. He is content with his flocks, realizing that he is a pretty rich guy, so he pulls up an easy chair, grabs a cold drink, his I-phone, and a TV with NFL network keyed up. He thinks he has enough and it is all good, so he stops working.
What happens? Over time the sheep eat up all the grass and their exhaust makes messes everywhere. Eventually sheep are sick, dying, and unable to produce good milk, meat, and wool. The fix, the farmer has to get to work. Flocks need to be moved from field to field, sometimes climbing mountains and hills in the process. To keep getting milk they have to be milked daily. Eventually the sheep have to be sheered or their wool will get ruined and be worthless. For the farmer, he has to know the condition of his flocks and give attention to his herds. He has to work, get off his bum, and get involved with the sheep.
We often talk about the sinfulness in making riches a God and giving too much of our lives to the pursuit of things. But, if we are not careful, we will create a culture where laziness is awarded. Lazy people content to stay unemployed and avoid work at all costs don’t really have a lot of issues with materialism. The writer of Proverbs here is reminding us that hard work and caring for financial well-being is a good thing. Money and stuff are not the devil, but they make lousy Gods. Hard work is to be commended, but seeing one’s job as their source rather than looking to God as the Provider won’t work. It is a Gospel idea to care for the needs of and provide for your family. Having a job and doing it well is something the Bible commends.
My dad was a great model for this in my life. He is a godly guy, doesn’t really have a materialistic bone in his body. But he is passionate about providing for his family and giving to His God. So he has always worked hard. As a teacher and a coach he worked hard and was very good at what he did. But he also always found other ways to make extra money to provide and give. He umpired and refereed ballgame, he cut grass, he did small landscaping jobs. My dad was careful not to do these things at the expense of loving his family, having his time with God, and serving in his church. But he has always been a model of a man who worked hard to do the things God called him to do.
Look at verses 26-27 as the writer explains the benefits that will come from honoring God with your work. First, you will have the resources for clothing and other needs you will have. Managed flocks will also provide enough goats milk and food for the table. The last line is a little bit funny. He says that the work will provide “maintenance for your girls.” He knows that wives and daughters cost money, so he reminds his son that he will need a little extra in his pocket to take care of the girls. Good word for all of us.