A Commonplace in Proverbs

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“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

Growing Dominion, Part 130

“He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” (Prov. 21:17).

This is a commonplace in the book of Proverbs. Take your pick—luxury and self-indulgence, and poverty with it, or discipline and self-control, and wealth. A lot rides on what we mean by “loveth pleasure.” The point is not that the disciplined person has to make faces when he drinks his wine, or turn up his nose when the oil of dressing is put on his salad. Solomon is not telling us that people who would be rich have to be grouchy about all the creature comforts that come their way. But there is a way of loving, pursuing, demanding pleasure that leads directly to poverty. And there is a willingness to refrain, to defer pleasure, that is connected to the ability to gain wealth.

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