In Proverbs 22:29, God asks an interesting question and follows it up with a keen observation, “Do you see a man who is skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” NASU The question and comment seem to imply that such men are few and far between, a rarity to be sought after. This verse plainly states that a talented, diligent, skilled worker will not work for common, unappreciative men. They will rather be in the employ of the rich and powerful, even kings. This verse implies that these skilled workers will be well compensated for their work, never having to worry about their livelihood. It appears that the diligent and skilled worker will be well respected. This verse provides ample motivation and encouragement for honing one’s skills.
The book of Proverbs contains many warnings against laziness and a lack of diligence. Proverbs points out the end results of a life of slothfulness. Proverbs states that talking instead of working leads to a life of poverty. This passage presents a positive argument for becoming skilled. This passage intends no disrespect or criticism to a common or obscure man. Rather the emphasis is on the fact that the most highly skilled and diligent workers will have the opportunity to work for those who will be able to offer steady employment and pay much higher wages.
Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, Esther, and others are good examples of this proverb. Each of them was given opportunity to stand before kings, to serve in high places because of their skill and diligence and faithfulness. Even though Saul of Tarsus was not right with God, it seems to me that his skill and training made him the perfect choice as the Apostle to the Gentiles. We assume that because of spending his childhood in Tarsus, known as a great center of Greek learning, that he was well educated in Greek culture. We know for a fact that his long hours at the feet of Gamaliel in the school founded by Hillel in Jerusalem gave him the best possible Hebrew education. Saul became Paul and he stood before leaders and kings many times. Talent, skill, and diligence are important in the Christian life. Those who have these qualities should receive places of influence where they can accomplish the greatest good. Pray that talented men will be Godly men.
When the queen of Sheba visited King Solomon, she commented about how blessed Solomon’s men were because they were able to stand before him continually and hear of his wisdom. That was true but what awaits the Christian is even better. The book of Revelation tells us that one day, those who belong to Christ will stand before Him, serving Him, seeing Him face-to-face. The Bible speaks of heavenly rewards for Christians. Could it be, is it barely possible that this pleasure, this reward, is reserved for the skilled and diligent servant of the Lord? I wonder if the skilled, diligent worker for the Lord here on earth will be the one who will be allowed in heaven to stand in front of the King of kings. It’s something to think about.
Steve Ellison is pastor of Harvey’s Chapel Baptist Church