“The name of Yahweh is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. A rich man’s wealth is his fortified city; in his imagination it is like a high wall” (Proverbs 18:10-11, HCSB).
At first glance, you may read these consecutive verses as two individual proverbs, each having its own meaning. Upon a closer look you will see that these two proverbs are like two sides of the same coin:
two ways of life,
two choices for life!
A strong tower was a central place in an ancient city where people could run when threatened by an enemy, a place of refuge. Yahweh’s name implies God’s character as the eternal, powerful, faithful, covenant-keeping God.
So the name of God (or God Himself) is a place where righteous people can find refuge or safety. People who call on, rely on, and have faith in the name and character of God are made righteous and, thus, are protected (or saved) from all enemies, including death, because they are safe inside the strong tower of God’s reality.
In contrast to finding refuge in God, a rich man relies on his own wealth for protection when threatened.
A person’s wealth (things that you acquire and/or accomplish in this world) can seem like it preserves and protects you, like the high wall around a fortified city. But the protection that trusting in yourself and the wealth and success you accumulate in this world provides only imagined safety and security.
It’s imagined because wealth and success in this world are not real from the eternal perspective of God’s reality. They go away. They don’t last forever. In other words, they have no eternal significance.
And with God, if it doesn’t have eternal significance, then it has no significance (and possibly an imagined significance to us).
So the decision we make about our life is not really that complicated.
There’s just two choices!
Either trust in God or trust in yourself.
But the choices are mutually exclusive. You can’t have it both ways. You can only do one and not the other.
And, the default condition is the second, trusting in yourself.
If you are not trusting in God’s reality, then you are trusting in yourself and your imagined reality. And remember, it’s an imagined reality because it’s temporal, it’s passing away, it doesn’t last forever. It’s not eternity. It’s not eternal life.
Jesus’ well-known admonition from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:19-21 renders the same two choices in life as do these proverbs: “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”